* ENP REINFORCEMENT A PRIORITY FOR 2007
The European Commission has set out its priorities for 2007, one of which is to reinforce its European Neighbourhood Policy. On October 24, the EC adopted its work programme for 2007, in which it identifies a series of 21 strategic initiatives that will be the main focus of its work, accompanied by a further series of priority actions to be adopted over the next 12 to 18 months. In addition to strengthening ENP, it also gives priority to implementing better management of migrant flows to the EU.
* EU-MIDDLE EAST
“The current window of opportunity for peace talks should be seized or we might see a third Intifada or the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.” This is one of the main conclusions of a report by Members of the European Parliament from the Party of European Socialists (PES) on their mission to the Middle East in September. The report, issued on October 23, expresses support for the efforts of the Finnish Presidency and concludes with the view that the destiny of Lebanon and the whole of the Middle East region depends on the realisation of a two-state solution: Israel and Palestine.
To read the report: http://www.pes.org/downloads/Rapport_Middle_East.pdf
Security requires good cooperation among the people who want to have a more stable and secure region, EU HR CFSP Javier Solana said in remarks following his meeting with Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on 26 October. He called for changes on the ground to bring about movement in the Israeli–Palestinian peace process. The EU Foreign Policy chief also said that Europe now has a greater presence in the region than ever before. From October 25-30, Mr. Solana visited Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt to discuss efforts towards an early resumption of dialogue between the two parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Syria is a long-standing partner and we have a strong interest in bringing the country closer to Europe,” External Relations and ENP Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said during the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on October 25. Describing Syria as “an essential player for stability in the Middle East and a key part of the puzzle when it comes to finding a long-term solution to conflicts in the region,” the Commissioner said that if the EU is to reengage with Syria, its leaders must show their commitment and interest in moving forward and taking positive steps on a number of issues. “Under the present political circumstances, it is difficult to envisage deepening our relations with Syria. Overcoming the political deadlock depends on the leadership’s ability to translate some of its words of good will into deeds,” she told MEPs.
Meanwhile, EU Council President and Finnish Minister of European Affairs, Paula Lehtomäki, told the European Parliament, during a discussion on the EU-Syria Association Agreement that “Syria has a particularly important part to play in the implementation of the UN Security Council resolutions concerning the Lebanese situation”. The Presidency said that Syria was an important link between the parties to the Middle East peace process and noted that, as such, it is expected to do its share to implement UN resolutions 1559, 1680 and 1701, to support the national reconstruction process in Lebanon and make all efforts to stabilise the internal political situation there. On the question of human rights, the Minister expressed the Council’s concern about last spring’s arrests of persons defending human rights in Syria. The EU will continue to monitor closely how for instance the freedoms of assembly and expression are realised, he said, adding, “It is clear that Syria, too, must comply with the international principles of human rights.”
In a statement during the UN debate on the situation in the Middle East, Finnish ambassador Kirsti Lintonen reiterated the EU’s deep concern over Israel’s continuing operations in the Palestinian territories and deplored the resulting loss of civilian lives. Ms Lintonen also called on the Palestinian leadership to bring an end to violence and terrorist activities, including the firing of rockets into Israeli territory. “We call for an end to violence and for restraint from all sides. Security is a matter of concern for everyone,” she said. The ambassador repeated the EU’s support for President Abbas and called on the Palestinians to join his efforts towards forming a government of national unity and noted that EU assistance to the Palestinians in 2006 would be in excess of €650 million.
* PRESS FREEDOM IN MEDA COUNTRIES
The latest edition of the annual “Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006” compiled by Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières) makes special reference to the consequences of the volatile situation in the Middle East on the region’s media, while noting improvements in press freedom in Algeria and Morocco. Lebanon fell from 56th to 107th place in the Index as the country’s media continues to suffer from the region’s political atmosphere while, according to the report, the inability of the Palestinian Authority (134th) to maintain stability in its territories, and the behaviour of Israel outside its borders, seriously threaten freedom of expression in the Middle East. Israel is ranked 50th in the list but 135th in its extra-territorial areas. Things improved in Algeria (up three places to 126th) and Morocco (up 23 places to 97th position). Other MEDA rankings: Jordan 109th, Egypt 133rd, Tunisia 148th and Syria 153rd from a total of 168 countries.
To see the full list: http://www.rsf.org/article.php3?id_article=19385
* EC FUNDING FOR ENVIRONMENT PROJECTS
The European Commission has approved funding for 16 new environment projects in the Mediterranean and Baltic regions, under the LIFE-Third Countries programme 2006. It was announced on October 19 that the projects will be implemented in seven MEDA countries – Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey – as well as in Albania, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia and Russia, including two international projects. They represent a total investment of nearly €10 million, of which over 60% comes from the EU. The projects address major environmental issues, from waste management and air pollution prevention and control, to river basin management and sustainable tourism, as well as promoting harmonisation with EU environmental regulations.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* MEDITERRANEAN BROADCAST JOURNALISTS TRAIN IN BRUSSELS
At a time when EU relations with many countries in the Southern Mediterranean and the Middle East are facing crucial challenges, there is a pressing need for good quality journalistic coverage in the region of the EU's relevant activities and strategies. In this perspective, the Europe for Mediterranean Journalists project aims to highlight issues affecting both regions. Thus, in September, the first full training session of the project was held in Brussels, bringing together broadcast reporters from across the region. The week-long session with English-speaking broadcasters from Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Turkey, Israel, Syria and Egypt aimed to get away from the usual flip charts and power point presentations and bring them closer to the sights and sounds of modern, digital broadcasting. Participants were shown not only how to craft a modern package, but they learnt what the ENP means for their audiences, where they might place European news in the bulletin’s running order and how to give political issues a human face. With interviews, briefings, location shoots, quality quotes and dialogue on policy developments, the group of 12 reporters obtained enough material to cover a whole host of issues. By the end of the week, they had produced a range of ready-to-air hard and soft news packages focusing on the European Neighbourhood Policy. Topics ranged from the Voice of Palestine’s coverage of Brussels’ reaction to the Palestinian Authority’s efforts aimed at establishing a national unity government, to Nile TV’s analysis piece on EU-Muslim relations and CNN Turk’s look at how Israeli and Palestinian reporters worked together during the project.
The Europe for Mediterranean Journalists project is financed by the MEDA Information and Communication programme
For further information, visit www.eu4medjournalists.eu
The Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) has significantly contributed to investment and economic growth in the south Mediterranean region, but it can do more to foster private sector development and especially small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). This is one of the conclusions of the EC’s review of the European Investment Bank (EIB)-led Facility which was created four years ago. “FEMIP needs to cater more for SMEs and partner countries need to become more involved in its running,” the Commission noted in a statement issued on October 24. The Commission’s Communication on FEMIP is scheduled to be discussed in November by European Union Finance Ministers.
Meanwhile, the EIB announced on October 26 that under FEMIP, it would be taking part in the Kantara Fund for private equity support in the Mediterranean region, with a budget of up to with €10 million. The EIB will collaborate with the Group Société Générale, through its asset management subsidiary Société Générale Asset Management. The multi-sector private equity investment fund, which is expected to ultimately reach €120 million, is aimed at private companies operating in Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. It will seek to generate capital appreciation by investing in equity or equity related securities in a portfolio of investments diversified across countries and sectors, mainly targeting medium to large sized companies with growth potential.
* EUROMED TRAINING OF PUBLIC ADMINISTRATIONS - MEDA PROGRAMME IMPLEMENTATION SEMINAR, LISBON, 6-10 NOVEMBER 2006.
This seminar will be held in the context of the regional Training and Consultancy Programme on Public Administration for the Mediterranean Partners, which is financed by MEDA to provide training to civil servants on European affairs and to create a EuroMed network of training centres in public administration. This 5-day seminar will be organised on “EU Programmes” with the aim of giving a clear overview of the MEDA Programme and its modalities of implementation and final evaluation, including the Commission decision process, Programme Management Unit establishment, Project Cycle Management and procurement procedures.
Furthermore, in the framework of this project, a training activity for public administrations will also take place in Maastricht on 20-24 November 2006 in order to "train the trainers".
For more information: www.eipa.nl
* NEW BLUE PLAN WEBSITE
A new website devoted to the report “A Sustainable Future for the Mediterranean: the Blue Plan’s Environment and Development Outlook” has been online since on October 3, 2006. The executive summary of the report is available in French, English and Arabic, while abstracts, notes, leaflets, press kits, etc. can be found in English and French. The report itself is also downloadable. The website has been created within the framework of the Regional Euro-Mediterranean Programme for the Environment (SMAP III)-funded project “Promoting awareness and enabling a policy framework for environment and development integration in the Mediterranean with focus on Integrated Coastal Management.” The project is implemented by MAP/PAP, Blue Plan and the World Bank’s Mediterranean Environmental Technical Assistance Programme (METAP).
Download the report from http://www.planbleu.org/red/
Blue Plan website: http://www.planbleu.org/indexUK.html
* ANNA LINDH FOUNDATION CALL FOR PAPERS
The Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue Between Cultures is about to launch a Call for Papers to select participants for the first Braudel – Ibn Khaldoun Euro-Mediterranean University Forum. Papers should be the product of joint research between a national of an EU Member State and a national of a Mediterranean Partner country. The deadline for submission of abstracts is 31 December 2006. For more information, contact Gregory Kehailia (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Eleonora Insalaco (email@example.com)
* CALL FOR APPLICATIONS- TRAINING IN FILM PROMOTION AND DISTRIBUTION
The Mediterranean Films Crossing Borders is launching a call for application aimed at audiovisual professionals from Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. The 25 selected participants will follow a training seminar where they will learn the techniques to promote and sell their film project in an international setting. They will also meet Mediterranean and European professionals during the Berlinale International Film Festival. Deadline for applications is 15 November 2006.
The training in international promotion and distribution will last from 6 to 8 February 2007. After the seminar, participants will have the opportunity to promote their project within the Berlin market. Travel and hotel expenses for 6 days are covered by the project.
Mediterranean Films Crossing Borders is funded by the European Union in the framework of the Euromed Audiovisual II regional programme. For more information see: www.mfcb.org or contact Sonia Ziadi Trives at: firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel/Fax: +34 914 34 24 00.
Brussels,11 14 2006