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* The European Commission on 30 April announced new forms of assistance to support the reform process in the Palestinian Authority. These will be available to the new government formed by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas and will also help address the reform agenda outlined in the Road Map on the Middle East Peace Process. European Commission President Romano Prodi and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten on 30 April welcomed the approval by the Palestinian Legislature of the new Palestinian Authority Cabinet.
http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/gaza/news/ip03_610.htm. The € 90 million new Reform Support Instrument is composed of a finance facility targeted on the payment of arrears to small enterprises and social services, and technical assistance to facilitate implementation of reforms of public finance. Given Israel’s resumption of tax transfers, the current system of monthly payments of Direct Budgetary Assistance will be discontinued. Details of the new Reform Support Instrument and of EU aid to the Palestinians in the period 2000-2003 are to be found at
http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/med_mideast/intro/index.htm and http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/mepp/index.htm

* Two EU-Egypt financing agreements totalling € 73 million were signed during a visit to the European Commission by the Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Fayza Aboulnaga, and her colleague in charge of Industry and Technological Development Dr El Saidi on 28 and 29 April. The financing agreements cover the Trade Enhancement Programme (€ 40 million), and the EU contribution to the Programme of Assistance to the Reform of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (€ 33 million). The Ministers met External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten and Senior Officials in the External Relations and EuropeAid Cooperation Office Directorates General to discuss issues linked to the programming and execution of the economic and technical co-operation programmes between the EU and Egypt. The Ministers were also received by Research & Development Commissioner Philippe Busquin with whom they discussed the state of play of negotiations for an EU-Egypt scientific agreement (see p. 2). They also met Enterprise and Information Society Commissioner Erkki Liikanen to discuss subjects of mutual interest. For further information:

* A € 26.5 million venture capital fund of funds for the Mediterranean region called Averroès Finance was launched on 24 April by the European Investment Bank (EIB), and three French financial companies (CDC PME, Proparco, and CEPAC). The launch took place during a conference on ‘Sustainable Investment in the Mediterranean’ held on 24 and 25 April in Marseilles, France on the initiative of the EIB, the city of Marseilles, and two French financial institutions (CDC and CNCE) under the patronage of French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. Averroès Finance is a joint stock company based in Marseilles, with capital contributions from CDC PME (€ 9 million), Proparco (€ 9 million), CEPAC (€ 5 million), and the EIB (€ 3.5 million). It will acquire holdings in venture capital funds established in the Mediterranean Partners of the Maghreb and Mashrak, which will in turn invest in Mediterranean SMEs.

* Two Scientific and Technological Co-operation Agreements between the EU and a Mediterranean Partner were initialled on 24 April in Brussels, one with Morocco and the other with Tunisia. The Agreements will improve participation by the two Maghreb countries in the 6th EU Research and Development Framework Programme (2003-2006). So far most Mediterranean Partners have been given access to a limited range of activities in this area. Negotiations took place on 23 April with Tunisia and on 24 April with Morocco, on the basis of a negotiating mandate adopted on 14 April by the EU Council of Ministers. A negotiating mandate has also been approved for Egypt, with which negotiations should be held in May. The Agreements have to be ratified by the EU Council subject to a favourable opinion from the European Parliament, and the Parliaments of the respective Partners. It is hoped this process will be completed by the end of the year. Cyprus, Malta, and Turkey have already been integrated into the 6th Framework Programme, and the EU-Israel Agreement in this regard stands to be renewed.


* Senior Officials of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership responsible for Political and Security Issues will meet on 5 May in Athens, Greece. Preparations will be made for the Euro-Mediterranean mid-term Ministerial Conference scheduled for late May in Crete on issues relating to the 1st Chapter of the Barcelona Process. On Political Dialogue Senior Officials will discuss the root causes of instability, the fight against terrorism, Dialogue on European Security and Defence Policy, Complementarity between Euro-Mediterranean dialogue and other fora, the Improvement of working methods, and Sub-regional co-operation.

* The Euro-Mediterranean Committee of the Barcelona Process will meet on 6 April in Athens, Greece. High on the agenda will be an ad hoc session on the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation that will also be attended by experts. In addition, the Committee will discuss the preparation of the Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Crete with respect to issues relating to the 2nd and 3rd Chapters of the Barcelona Process. The European Commission will inform the Committee of existing programmes.

* The Euro-Mediterranean Civil Forum of NGOs will hold its next meeting from 1 to 4 May in Chania, on the Greek island of Crete. Within the general theme of Intercultural Dialogue four workshops will each address one particular subject or group of subjects (Dialogue of Cultures; Dialogue of Religions; Intercultural Education; and Peaceful Solutions, Intercultural Dialogue and Co-existence in Conflict Areas). The Forum is expected to issue a statement, which will be presented to the Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers’ meeting scheduled for late May in Crete.

* The Euro-Mediterranean Working Group on Services will hold its next meeting on 7 and 8 May in Brussels. The first day will be devoted to Tourism and Related Business Services, touching on topics such as the tourism industry, trade in tourism services, liberalisation, domestic regulation, sustainable development, training, e-commerce, and regional aspects. The General Meeting taking place on the second day will focus on progress made so far within the Working Group on Services, and possible orientations for future work Contact Points:
Ulrike.Hauer@cec.eu.int and Christophe.Rames@cec.eu.int

* The Euro-Mediterranean Energy Forum met on 29 April in Brussels to discuss and adopt priorities for 2003-2006 in preparation for the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Energy Ministers scheduled for 20 and 21 May in Athens, Greece. Emphasis was put on the need to promote energy efficiency, renewable sources, and interconnections, and to facilitate the financing of energy infrastructure. Co-ordinators of the three Ad Hoc Working Groups supporting the Forum (in charge of Energy Policy, Energy Economics, and Interconnections respectively) presented their conclusions. The Energy Forum worked on a draft Communication, and a Draft Ministerial Declaration, which have yet to be finalised before the Athens meeting. The establishment of a mechanism to ensure regular follow-up of the practical implementation of the orientations agreed by this Forum was discussed. In addition, the role of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) in the financing of energy infrastructure was underlined.

* The 5th Meeting of the Working Group on the extension of pan-European rules of origin to the Mediterranean Partners will be held on 21 May in Brussels. The meeting was originally planned for 26 March. For further information:


* Partnership Event on Electronic Document Management in Beirut
A Partnership Event on Electronic Document Management will take place on 8 May in Beirut as part of the EU funded MEDRESSA II Programme. The event will bring together European IT providers and Lebanese potential users from both the public and private sectors, including banks, libraries, insurance companies, electronic publishing businesses, and law firms.


* European Direct Investment in the Mediterranean
European Direct Investment in the Mediterranean Region as a whole fell sharply in 2001 after reaching record levels in 2000. There was a sharp drop in investment in Egypt and in Israel against an increase in investment in Turkey and in Morocco. All the details and international comparisons are to be found in the latest issue of ‘Statistics in Focus’ published by Eurostat, the EU Statistical Office. Data included in the publication were compiled within MEDSTAT, the MEDA funded Regional Programme of statistical co-operation. http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat

Bruxelles,05 06 2003
European union
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