* The European Commission on 5 May announced it had approved a € 57 million package under MEDA to reinforce Euro-Mediterranean regional co-operation. This includes the MEDA Regional Financing Plan 2003 (€ 32 million), and the Support Fund to the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP, € 25 million). The Regional Financing Plan is made up of the Middle East Peace Projects (MEPP) 2003 (€ 10 million), the Euromed Heritage III Programme (€ 10 million), the Training of Public Administrations Programme (€ 6 million), Support to the Implementation of the ‘Agadir’ Free Trade Initiative (€ 4 million), and the Euro-Mediterranean Water Information System (EMWIS, € 2 million). The € 25 million Support Fund to the FEMIP is designed to fund technical assistance activities.
* The European Commission on 5 May announced it was providing a total € 210 million in emergency assistance to Egypt and Jordan to alleviate the economic effects on them of the war in Iraq. This financial assistance will be drawn from existing commitments and is scheduled for quick disbursement to help the two countries. Of the total amount € 175 million will be disbursed as budgetary assistance to Egypt while the remaining € 35 million will help to restore the stability of the Jordanian balance of payments. European External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten said the package would help “to maintain momentum for economic and political reform in the region”.
* European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy met Morocco’s Minister for Industry and Internal Trade Rachid Talbi El Alami, and the Trade Ministers of Tunisia and Turkey, Mondher Zenaidi, and Kursat Tuzmen respectively on 6 May in Brussels. The talks took place in the margins of an international conference on the future of trade in textiles worldwide after the elimination of quotas in 2005 under the WTO, which was held on the European Commission’s initiative. The conference itself saw some discussion of the relevance for textiles of the Pan-Euro-Mediterranean area currently being established on the basis of common rules of origin. Both the Moroccan and the Tunisian Ministers expressed concern about stronger competition after the disappearance of textile quotas, and particularly a fear of losing much of their competitive edge over non-preferential countries on the EU market. Mr Lamy reassured them on their ability to adapt to the new situation. Discussions with the Tunisian Minister also included trade in services, notably the regional agenda of the Euro-Med working group in that area, as well as the European Commission’s recent initiative in the WTO framework, which Mr Zenaidi welcomed. Discussions with the Turkish Minister took place in the context of the EU-Turkey Customs Union, and Mr Lamy encouraged Turkey to conclude free trade agreements with other Mediterranean countries. More on the conference at
* The Palestinian Authority (PA)’s Finance Minister Salam Fayyad met European External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten on 6 May in Brussels. During the meeting with the press that followed the Minister conveyed his government’s gratitude for the support provided by the EU through the European Commission. Over the last 2 ½ years, Mr Fayyad said, that support has enabled the PA to face up to the social and economic challenges arising from the situation. The Minister added that he would go on with the reform programme which has brought the PA’ s finances under the control of his administration in full consistency with the Palestinian Legislative Council‘s requirements. Commissioner Patten recalled how the EU financial assistance to the Palestinians in 2003 would be spent.
Mr Patten also reiterated the EU’s commitment to supporting the PA and its efforts to establish transparent financial institutions. “We have been monitoring the PA’s financial situation”, he added “and we are hoping to see progress in the next few weeks. We are less happy with progress made on the judiciary”. The Commissioner also indicated that the Arab-Israeli conflict would be discussed at the forthcoming Euro-Mediterranean meeting in Crete. “What we want is a viable Palestinian state”, he stated in reply to a question.
* Senior Officials of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership responsible for Political and Security Issues and the Euro-Mediterranean Committee of the Barcelona Process met on 5 and 6 May in Athens, Greece. The main focus was on preparing for the Euro-Mediterranean Meeting of Foreign Ministers in Crete later this month, notably on Dialogue between Cultures and Civilisations. Favourable reactions were expressed to the European Commission’s ‘Wider Europe – Neighbourhood’ proposals. Progress was made on agreeing the objectives and main tasks of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation, which could enable Foreign Ministers to come to an agreement in this respect at their meeting in Crete. This would facilitate a final agreement at the ‘Barcelona VI’ Ministerial Conference scheduled for December in Naples. In addition, there was a general discussion on the political situation in the region. Participants in both meetings included representatives of all acceding States for the first time.
* The Euro-Mediterranean Civil Forum of NGOs met from 1 to 4 May in Chania, on the Greek island of Crete. Various aspects of Intercultural Dialogue were discussed in four workshops. In a statement which will be presented to the Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers meeting in Crete later this month the Civil Forum say they “believe in the strengthening of the participation of civil society in the decision-making process of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership…, providing it with the necessary legal and practical means to act”. The Forum agreed “to promote knowledge and mutual respect between the cultures, traditions and values which exist in the partner countries”. The statement also calls for a reinforcement of cultural and youth exchange programmes under MEDA.
* The European Parliament Delegation for relations with Israel will meet on 15 May in Strasbourg, France in preparation for its visit to Israel scheduled to take place from 17 to 21 May. Documents for the visit will be presented and discussed.
* The EU-Tunisia Working Group on Social Affairs will hold its next meeting on 13 May in Brussels. Living and working conditions of Tunisians residing in EU Member States will be discussed, as well as legal and illegal migration, and possible co-operation activities in this area under the Association Agreement. Also on the agenda are the co-ordination of social security systems, and equal opportunities between men and women.
* Technical Discussions in the framework of negotiations for an EU-Syria Association Agreement will be held on 14 and 15 May in Damascus on the initiative of the European Commission Delegation in Syria. The discussions will cover a number of trade issues.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* EUROMED AUDIOVISUAL AT THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL
The MEDA funded Euromed Audiovisual Regional Programme will for the first time be present at the Cannes Film Festival, whose latest edition will be held in the French Riviera resort from 14 to 25 May. Two information stands will be devoted to Euromed Audiovisual within the EU Pavilion, one for the Programme as a whole and another for the Europa Cinémas project. Furthermore a round table on ‘World Cinema: Europe as Partner’ will be held on 15 May at the Festival as part of a European Day, and will be opened by European Education and Culture Commissioner Viviane Reding. Participants will include film-makers, producers as well as government and corporate decision-makers from the EU and the developing world, notably Tunisia’s Ahmed Attia of Cinétéléfilms production company, and the General Manager of Morocco’s Centre Cinématographique, Souheil Benbarka. Current EU support to the film sector in developing countries and suggestions from partners around the world will be discussed. The debate should contribute to future EU co-operation in this area.
* WORKSHOP ON PROTECTION OF PERSONAL DATA AND E-COMMERCE
A workshop on the Protection of Personal Data and E-Commerce will take place from 12 to 14 May in Rome, Italy within the MEDA funded Regional Euro-Med Market Programme, which aims at helping the Mediterranean Partners prepare themselves for the future Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. It will be the 6th in a series of 8 workshops designed to promote information and exchange of experience in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The meeting’s more specific objective is to promote the establishment of the means to ensure an adequate level of general protection, and the progressive adoption by the Mediterranean Partners of data protection standards which meet international standards and ensure an adequate level of protection from the EU’ s perspective. Presentations will be made of EU regulations on data protection and e-commerce, and of the state of preparation of the Mediterranean Partners in those two areas. Four specialised working groups will discuss Citizens’ Rights and obligations of officers in charge of the treatment of personal data, International transfer of personal data within the EuroMed Market, Liability issues for e-commerce service providers, and Information requirements and electronic contracts respectively. Finally the Programme Co-ordinators and the Mediterranean Partners’ representatives will outline their priorities for the 2nd phase of Euro-Med Market in the areas of Personal Data Protection and E-Commerce. Participants will be senior officials, judges specialising in privacy and fundamental rights, defenders of human rights, representatives of citizens’ movements, consumer groups, and businesses. For more information: European Institute of Public Administration – European Centre for the Regions – tel. +34 93 567 24 00 – fax +34 93 567 23 99.
* SUCCESSFUL POPULATION PROGRAMME IN UPPER EGYPT
An ambitious EU-supported population programme implemented in two governorates of Upper Egypt (Qena and Suhag) since 1998 will be handed over to the Egyptian authorities in June when EU technical assistance is scheduled to end. The programme, which received an EU contribution of € 10 million, has reached 3.5 million people, changing the behaviour of a great number of women. Total fertility rate in the 11 districts concerned went from 5.4 to 4.1 children per woman between 1998 and 2002. These and other results were presented at a workshop on 4 May in Luxor, which was followed by a meeting of the programmes’ s Steering Committee on 5 May. The European Commission’s Head of Delegation in Egypt Ian Boag addressed both meetings. The programme’s sustainability will be ensured through its integration into the ongoing Egyptian Health Programme, to which the EU is contributing € 110 million.
* TRAINING COURSE FOR ENHANCING CULTURAL HERITAGE
Thirty cultural heritage specialists from 5 Mediterranean Partners (Algeria, Israel, Malta, Morocco, and the Palestinian Territories) are currently following the 1st module of a training course for the enhancement of cultural heritage in a given region, which is being held from 4 to 11 May in Malta. The course receives MEDA support within the DELTA project, part of the Euromed Heritage II Regional Programme. The DELTA project is co-ordinated by Italy’s Mediterranean Institute (IMED).
* LOOKING AHEAD TO THE NEXT FOREIGN MINISTERS’ MEETING
The working document drafted by European Commission services in preparation for the Euro-Mediterranean Mid-Term Meeting of Foreign Ministers scheduled for 26-27 May in Crete is available on the web at
* THE QUARTET ROAD MAP ON THE WEB
The Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, adopted by the Quartet (EU, United States, Russia, and United Nations) and presented recently to the parties can be downloaded from the web site http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/mepp/roadmap.htm
* NEWSLETTERS FROM DAMASCUS
If you want to know all about the first wind farm in Syria, it’s in the latest regular issue (No 2/2003) of the newsletter produced by the European Commission Delegation in Damascus published recently. This issue also contains a feature on Trade & Development, including globalisation and the Mediterranean. The Delegation has also produced a special issue on European integration, the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, and EU Enlargement in advance of Europe Day (9 May). Soon at
* EUROPEAN VISION OF EGYPT THROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY
A photo exhibition called ‘European Vision of Egypt through Photography’ will be opened on 14 May in Cairo. It will be shown there for two weeks before moving to Alexandria for another 14 days. The exhibition has been organised by the European Commission Delegation in Egypt and the embassies to Cairo of 12 EU Member States.
* 10TH EUROPEAN FILM FESTIVAL IN TUNISIA
The 10th European Film Festival in Tunisia is taking place in Tunis from 7 to 17 May, and in Sousse from 10 to 20 May, featuring recent works by directors from 11 EU Member States. The Festival is organised by the European Commission Delegation in Tunisia and EU Member States’ embassies in Tunis.
Brussels,05 12 2003
European Union Redaction