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Political news

New EC proposals on immigration

"Europe is an immigration continent — there is no doubt about it. We are attractive to many. But we are not good enough at attracting highly skilled people" said Commission President Barroso, at a Press conference in Strasbourg on 23 October 2007. He explained that the Commission has adopted two major proposals in the field of immigration. The first is about the EU Blue Card, which aims to harmonise the admission procedures for highly qualified workers. The second provides for a general framework to be applied in all cases: a single application procedure for a single work and residence permit as well as a common set of rights for third-country nationals who reside and work legally in Europe.

The Commission's international priorities for 2008
The European Commission has just adopted its new work programme for 2008 which focuses on the globalisation agenda. Regarding immigration, the Commission will propose further steps towards a common migration policy combining well managed labour migration and effective action against illegal migration and human trafficking. Regarding the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), it will continue to support political, economic and social reforms in partner countries, providing a tailor-made response to needs of ENP countries within a common policy framework. Building on the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the ENP is also expected to develop the longstanding regional dialogue and cooperation with all the countries of the Mediterranean region.

European Commission sounds alarm over humanitarian impact of climate change
"Climate change is an increasing threat to development and humanitarian relief efforts" warned Louis Michel, the European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid during the World Food Programme (WFP)’s Executive Board meeting on 24 October. He added: "We must now confront the challenges presented by ever-more extreme climate events to see how the humanitarian community can best prepare itself since the most vulnerable people will be those that suffer the most. There is a real risk that, in the future, we'll have climatic refugees." The WFP and European Commission work closely on these issues. The EC’s contributions to WFP's humanitarian efforts worldwide reached €145 million this year.

EU-Africa-Middle East Energy Conference
Co-organised by External Relations Commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the EU-Africa-Middle East Energy Conference will take place on 1 November 2007 in Sharm El Sheikh. The conference provides an opportunity to discuss and promote regional cooperation on energy security between the EU, the Middle East and Africa, including Mediterranean ENPI partners, while harnessing the potential of the existing regional and bilateral initiatives. Topics of discussion will include the security and sustainability of energy supplies, predictability of demand, investments and technology transfer, new and renewable energy, energy efficiency, the transparency of energy markets, regulatory issues, energy poverty and energy access, as well as energy infrastructures of common interest.

Sixth Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Trade Conference
At the 6th Euromed Trade Ministerial Conference which took place in Lisbon on 20-21 October 2007. Ministers welcomed the progress made in negotiations in a number of key areas: the liberalisation of trade in services, the establishment of a dispute settlement mechanism for the trade provisions of the Association Agreements, the implementation of the Palermo Action Plan, and the further liberalisation of agricultural, processed agricultural and fisheries products. Ministers encouraged the Mediterranean partner countries to accelerate the negotiation and entry into force of Free Trade Agreements with one another so as to strengthen South- South regional integration. They also agreed to start the drafting of a single regional convention on preferential rules of origin for the Pan-Euro-Mediterranean area.

EuroMed Civil Protection Heads discuss cooperation
The first informal joint-meeting of Directors-General for Civil Protection of the Euromed Programme and their counterparts from the European Union, the European Economic Area (EEA) and the EU candidate countries took place on 24 October in Oporto, Portugal. The objective was to explore ways of increasing cooperation in matters of civil protection in the region. It took place prior to the 19th Meeting of Directors-General for Civil Protection of the EU, the EEA, and the candidate countries organised in Turkey on 25-26 October. http://www.eu2007.pt/UE/vEN/Noticias_Documentos/20071019civil.htm

Council conclusions on Libya
The 15-16 October 2007 External Relations Council meeting in Luxembourg adopted conclusions on Libya. The Council expressed its satisfaction for the conclusion of the case of the Bulgarian medical personnel. It agreed that the policy of engagement with Libya which it decided in 2004 should be reinforced with a view to enhancing EU-Libya relations. The objective of this policy will be to set these relations into an appropriate, coherent long-term framework that will take into account the interests of Libya and of the EU and its Member States. EU and Libya should as soon as possible open discussions on a framework agreement which will include areas of mutual interest, such as human rights or migration among others.

EMPA Committee debates Climate Change, Satellite TV and more in Rome
The Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) Committee on Improving the Quality of Life, Human Exchanges and Culture meets in Rome on 29-30 October 2007. Among a broad range of issues to be discussed are: the impact of climate change and desertification, Mediterranean forest policies and fire management, the role of satellite television as a bridge between societies and cultures in the Euro Mediterranean region, the activities of the Anna Lindh Foundation and relations with the EMPA and the results of the first Working Group on the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean University.

20th EU/Russia summit
On 26 October, European and Russian leaders will meet in Mafra, Portugal for the 20th UE/Russia Summit. Discussions will include: the development of an early warning mechanism in case of potential energy supply difficulties, visa dialogue, fight against drugs, investment dialogue and Russia WTO accession. Parallel to the Summit, an agreement will be signed on further expansion of trade in steel and steel products. On the eve of the Summit, an EU-Russia Industrialists Round Table meeting as well as the very first Permanent Partnership Council in the field of Culture took place. This 20th EU-Russia Summit coincides with the tenth anniversary of the signature of the Strategic Cooperation Agreement between Moscow and Brussels.

Ferrero-Waldner: "EU-Russia is a strategic partner"
"Russia is not only a close neighbour, but it is also a strategic partner for the EU. EU-Russia trade and investment are booming and our energy interdependence is growing. Russia is a key partner to tackle regional conflicts and global challenges. But much remains to be done to develop the full potential of our relationship". This is how Commissioner for External Relations and ENP, Benita Ferrero-Waldner introduced her speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 24 October just before the EU-Russia summit. She then presented an overview of the relations with Russia regarding issues such as energy, the environment, border management, human rights, investment and trade as well as international cooperation.

Andris Piebalgs committed to further develop energy cooperation with Russia
"The common interests and potential to work effectively together are vast, not least to help solve the world's energy and other challenges. We must therefore ensure that we continuously develop closer relations, based on openness, transparency and mutual respect for our legitimate interests", said Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs on the occasion of the International Energy Week in Moscow on 23 October. Within the context of the Conference, there was an expert meeting during which EC experts gave a detailed overview of the EU energy liberalisation package.

Programmes & Projects

The EC allocates € 97.4 million for its neighbours from the Mediterranean area
€ 97.4 million have been allocated to the Mediterranean region under the 2007 ENPI Regional Action Programme for the South adopted by the European Commission (EC) on 24 October. Eight regional projects and programmes will be financed in a wide range of domains such as peace, disaster prevention, investment promotion, support to the private sector, intercultural dialogue, gender equality and information and communication. This Regional Action Programme for the Southern partners is a key document which describes the regional programmes and projects financed by the EU under the 2007 budget. It covers the Southern countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy namely Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Syria and Tunisia.

23rd Malta Seminar for Euro-Mediterranean diplomats
The 23rd Information and Training Seminar for Euro-Med Diplomats takes place in Malta from 26-29 October. Among the topics to be discussed during the seminar are: the Euro-Mediterranean cultural partnership: an Arab perspective; energy security in the Euromed Region; the Euromed Partnership and the media; protecting the global climate; the EU’s Global Approach to migration and prospects for a Council of the Mediterranean.
The Euro-Mediterranean Information and Training Seminars for Diplomats (Malta Seminars) are part of an EU-funded regional programme which began in 1997. The aim is to improve information flows, to allow for exchanges of ideas and to promote dialogue between EU and Mediterranean diplomats.

Euromed Health Workshop and Brokerage Event in Cairo
A Euromed Workshop on Health takes place in Cairo on 29-20 October 2007. This event aims to showcase the scientific potential of Mediterranean partner country researchers in the health sector to interested European counterparts. A number of competitive and innovative ideas will be presented with a view to finding collaboration partners from European countries. Topics include research into stem cells, cancer, diabetes, kidney diseases, liver diseases and health care systems.

You’ve seen it online – now see the real thing!
The Museum With No Frontiers (MWNF), which runs the online Virtual Museum, has just launched MWNF Travels, enabling its visitors to go to see the actual monuments and sites in the countries concerned. Fifteen tours have been designed and organised by specialised local travel agents and will be accompanied by specially trained local tour guides, enabling visitors to discover each country from an authentically local perspective. 10 countries of the Mediterranean are concerned. MWNF is supported by the EU under the Euromed Heritage programme.

Mediterranean Film Heritage Seminar
The Bologna Cinematheque hosted a workshop on The Restoration and Conservation of Film Heritage in the Mediterranean in Bologna, Italy on 21-23 October in the framework of the EU-funded regional programme Euromed Audiovisual II. The objective was to discuss the current state of film archives in Europe and in the Mediterranean. Participants discussed the importance of protecting cinema heritage from a historical, artistic and methodological perspective, archiving policies, film library management programmes and the possibility of establishing a Mediterranean Film Archive network.

Ukrainian-European Policy and Legal Advice Centre (UEPLAC)
Ukrainian-European Policy and Legal Advice Centre (UEPLAC) held a round table “JSC law and corporate governance within the overall framework of company law in Ukraine” on 15 October 2007. The round table aimed to formulate concrete proposals for improvement of the current draft law on Joint Stock Company (JSC). In this context, discussion focused on: national rules on company law and further alignment with the EU legislation on company law; perspectives of the introduction of voluntary Codes of Corporate Governance; adoption of a new legal framework on JSC as an indispensable prerequisite to attract foreign investments and to allow Ukrainian enterprises to be competitive within the EU market. UEPLAC is funded by the EU.

Ukraine: Interactive Technologies in vocational training
The first training in interactive methods for teachers and trainers of Agricultural Vocational Schools took place in the Cherkasy region (Ukraine) on 15-19 October 2007 in the framework of the EU-funded project “Strengthening Regional Vocational education training (VET) Management in Ukraine”. Introducing interactive methods of teaching into educational process is increasingly important in the framework of new educational technologies. This contributes to development of students’ commitment to implement pedagogical technologies, as well as to development of researches and creative efforts.

INOGATE Information sessions
National INOGATE information sessions are to be held in all partner countries in the next couple of months: Georgia (16 October 2007), Armenia (19 October 2007), Azerbaijan (23 October 2007) Moldova (30 October 2007). The specific objectives of the sessions are to brief all the relevant bodies on the agreements reached during the Astana Ministerial Conference of November 2006 (Energy Road Map); set out clearly the expanded scope of the INOGATE Programme; provide information on what activities are planned to take place until the next Ministerial Conference scheduled for end of 2008. The sessions will also provide information on all ongoing and upcoming INOGATE technical assistance projects relevant to the partner countries and discuss what the priorities for the partner countries will be in achieving progress.

Publications & Events

Will the Middle East remain an exception, asks Solana
“Over-armed, under-institutionalised and rife with tensions” is how the EU’s High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, Javier Solana, describes the Middle East in an article entitled Countering Globalisation’s Dark Side, and available online.
Arguing that today’s world needs more global-level, multilateral co-operation if it is to become peaceful and safe for its citizens, Mr Solana wonders whether the Middle East “will remain the big exception” in a world in which stronger regional organisations should be able to make a greater contribution to global stability.

Russia third trade partner of the EU27
On the occasion of the European Union - Russia summit, Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities, publishes data on the EU27 and Russia. Russia is the EU27's third most important trading partner, after the USA and China, accounting for 6.2% of EU27 exports and 10.4% of EU27 imports in 2006, compared to 2.7% and 6.4% respectively in 2000.

Trait d'union, Newsletter online
The new edition of Trait d'union, the newsletter published by the Moroccan EC Delegation is now online. It features the main activities of the summer such as a round table on governance and civil society organizations' meeting.

Marseille,11 08 2007
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