The EU Council of Ministers on 13 May approved the signing of the EU-Israel Scientific and Technical Co-operation Agreement. Under the Agreement Israeli undertakings, research centres, and universities will have access to the EU’s Sixth Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (2003-2006), and Israel will be associated to the dissemination of research results. Israel will make a contribution to the budget in this respect. EU research entities will have access to research and development activities in Israel. Cyprus, Malta, and Turkey have already been integrated into the Sixth Framework Programme. Israel has been involved in the EU’s Fifth Framework Programme under a similar agreement.
* The 3rd Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Energy will take place on 20 and 21 May in Athens, Greece under the Co-Presidency of Greece who currently holds the EU Presidency, and Tunisia. Ministers are expected to adopt a Declaration spelling out priorities for 2003-2006 on the basis of a draft prepared by the Energy Forum held on 29 April in Brussels. The Ministerial Declaration will be discussed by Senior Officials at a Preparatory Meeting on 20 May, and by the Ministers themselves on the following day. Emphasis should be put on the need to promote energy efficiency, renewable sources, and interconnections, and to facilitate the financing of energy infrastructure, with the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership having a special role to play. The Energy Forum Communication will be presented by European Commission Vice-President in charge of Energy and Transport, Loyola De Palacio. In the margins of the Conference an Industry Forum will be held on 20 May, bringing together the Ministers and Industry representatives, and a Memorandum of Understanding on Electricity will be signed by Ministers from the Maghreb Countries on the next day.
* The European Parliament (EP) Delegation for relations with Israel will visit that country from 17 to 21 May. Members of the Delegation are expected to meet President Moshe Katsav, Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, and Interior Minister Prof. Avraham Poraz. Working sessions are planned with the Knesset’s Defence and Foreign Affairs Committee, and with the Knesset Delegation for relations with the EU. A meeting with all EU Member States’ Ambassadors is also on the agenda, as well as a working dinner with EU Special Envoy Miguel Angel Moratinos. Head European Commission of Delegation Giancarlo Chevallard will participate in a number of events organised during the visit. The EP Delegation will also meet NGO representatives, academics, and media personalities. The programme includes visits to Haifa and Hertzliya. Preparations for the visit were made at a meeting of the Delegation on 15 May in Strasbourg, France.
* Three other European Parliament Delegations for relations with Mediterranean Partners met on 14 and 15 May in Strasbourg, France. The Delegation for relations with the Mashrak countries and the Gulf States met on 14 May. There was an exchange of views on a trip to Lebanon and Syria planned by a working group of the Delegation for 8-15 June. The Delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries and the Arab Maghreb Union met on the same day. Delegation members had exchanges of views on the work of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in the presence of its chairperson Ms Najat Al-Hajjaji, and on EU-Mauritania relations in the presence of a delegation of the Mauritanian Parliament. The Delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council met on 15 May. There was an exchange of views on the situation in the Palestinian Territories, and the Delegation President presented an oral report on her recent visit there.
* In the EU Preliminary Draft Budget for 2004 presented to the EU Council of Economy/Finance Ministers on 13 May in Brussels by European Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer, appropriations for commitments for the Mediterranean Partners are 14% higher than in 2003. A total of € 859 has been proposed by the Commission in line with the Wider Europe – Neighbourhood Policy. Funding for Cyprus and Malta as acceding countries, and to Turkey as a candidate country is not included in this figure. The Draft Budget for 2004 will have to be examined by the European Parliament and the EU Council before its approval, which should take place in December.
* 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. Various aspects of the Draft Protocol for the introduction of Pan-Euro-Mediterranean cumulation of origin will be discussed, notably diagonal cumulation, the proofs of origin, and the prohibition of drawback. In addition, a presentation will be made of a study by the Sussex European Institute on the economic impact of extending the pan-European system to the Mediterranean Partners.
* The Med Committee will meet on 21 May in Brussels. Committee Members are expected to give an opinion on the MEDA global allocation, and on the mid-term review of the National Indicative Programmes 2002-2004.
* The EU-Egypt Economic Dialogue, which was to take place on 19-20 May, has been postponed. The meeting could be held in September, but no new date has yet been set.
* An EU-Tunisia experts’ meeting on Standards, Technical Regulations, and Conformity Assessment will take place on 20 May in Brussels to prepare the ground for an agreement in these areas. Tunisia can serve as a model for other Mediterranean Partners in this respect. European Commission experts will describe their experience of negotiations with the acceding countries for conformity assessment agreements. A presentation will be made of Tunisia’s institutional and regulatory set-up, and there will be an exchange of views on the priority sectors. There will also be a discussion of the strategy for approximating legislation and concluding a mutual recognition agreement. Finally a work programme should be drawn up.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* EUROPA CINÉMAS NETWORK BREAKS NEW RECORDS
The MEDA supported Europa Cinémas network broke new records last year, as shown by the figures released in advance of the Cannes Film Festival. The numbers of tickets sold in the network’s 34 South Mediterranean cinemas reached 867,000 in the second half of 2002 for EU and South Mediterranean films put together, more than 4 times the number recorded in the same period of 2000. The number of EU and Mediterranean films screened by network members in the Mediterranean Partners went up from 110 in the second half of 2000 to 305 a year after, and 405 in the same period last year. The number of European films among those went up from 70 to 233, and 308 over the same period. Europa Cinémas was launched within the Euromed Audiovisual Regional Programme in March, 2000 to support the distribution of European and Mediterranean films in the Mediterranean Partners, as well as the screening of EU and Mediterranean films in the Partners, and Mediterranean films in the EU. A total of 24 distribution companies from 9 Mediterranean Partners have received support from the project so far for 1.9 million tickets sold. In the network’s European cinemas 450,000 tickets were sold for Mediterranean films from July, 2000 to December, 2002. Twenty-six percent of films shown in the network’s South Mediterranean cinemas in the 2nd half of 2002 were European, 8% Mediterranean, and the rest (66%) originated in the US and other countries.
* GUIDE BOOK ON SYRIA’S ECONOMY AND POLITICS
A Guide on Syria’s Economy and Politics entitled ‘Emerging Syria 2003’ has been published recently by the Oxford Business Group in co-operation with the MEDA funded Syrian-European Business Centre (SEBC).
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* EUROPEAN CULTURAL FESTIVAL IN ALGERIA
The 4th European Cultural Festival in Algeria is taking place from 1 to 31 May in Algiers, Annaba, and Oran. It is organised by the European Commission Delegation in Algeria and the embassies of EU Member States, in co-operation with Algeria’s Ministry for Communication and Culture. The programme includes a number of concerts and dance performances, as well as the screening of European films in Algiers from 16 to 31 May.
* SHAKESPEARE IN ARABIC
William Shakespeare’s play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ has been translated into Arabic, and adapted to an Egyptian setting by a team made up of Swedes and Arabs from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and the Palestinian Territories. The project was supported by the European Commission Delegation in Egypt, and led to a first performance in Alexandria. A Swedish tour targeted at Arab communities will start on 17 May, featuring performances in Gothenburg from 21 to 24 May, and in Stockholm from 27 to 31 May.
Brussels,05 19 2003
European Union Redaction