| France assumed the six-month rotating Presidency of the EU Council on July 1st |
French Presidency starts
France assumed the six-month rotating Presidency of the EU Council on July 1st. Information about the Presidency, events and a provisional calendar for the upcoming six months are available on the dedicated website.
EU contribution to promoting decent work throughout the world
The Commission has been making efforts to mobilise all EU institutions as well as other actors like the business community, social partners and civil society to promote decent work and involvement in external policies, it says in a memo on its “Report on the EU contribution to promoting decent work throughout the world”. It is also working to support commitments at international level, developing bilateral relations and exchange on these issues with partner countries and regions, as well as by integrating decent work objectives into the EU’s trade and development policies. In bilateral relations, decent work is the subject of dedicated dialogues with neighbourhood countries, while decent work objectives are integrated into the EU\'s development policy and external assistance.
Statement of the Presidency of the European Union on the terrorist attack in Jerusalem
On behalf of the Presidency of the European Union, the French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs has condemned the heinous terrorist attack in Jerusalem on 2 July in the strongest possible terms: \"this unacceptable terrorist act does harm to all Israelis and all Palestinians\". The Presidency called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders to pursue their discussions, despite the violence, in order to take forward swiftly the ongoing negotiation process.
Trade is a strong driver of the Euro-Med process, says EU Trade Commissioner
\"Trade is a strong driver of the EuroMed process, and the goal of a deep and comprehensive Euro-Mediterranean free trade area is what we all are striving for,” EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson has said, in view of the meeting of the Trade Ministers from the EU and the Mediterranean partner countries.
At the meeting, organised on 2 July in Marseille, Ministers agreed on how to strengthen Euromed trade and investment relations beyond 2010. During a specific session, five major players from the Euro-Mediterranean business world shared their experiences, their vision for the future of the Mediterranean and their expectations with the ministers.
The ministerial conference was followed by the \"Med Business Days\" meeting organised by Business Europe in association with MEDEF (French business federation) and the Union of Mediterranean Confederations of Enterprise (UMCE), on 3 and 4 July in Marseille.
Presidency press release
Slovenian Foreign Minister and Council President discussed the Middle East situation at G8 meeting
The G8 foreign ministers supported the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with a view to reaching an agreement, and called upon all parties to refrain from actions that might harm the process and to fulfil all their obligations. The meeting, in which Slovenian Foreign Minister and EU Council President Dimitrij Rupel participated, welcomed talks between Israel and Syria as well as the political change in Lebanon. Concerning the Middle East Peace Process, Minister Rupel said that during his visit to the Middle East, he established that the main problem is how to organise the Palestinian state.
Committee of the Regions supports a regional dimension to the Union for the Med
Committee of the Regions (CoR) President, Luc Van den Brande, has presented an initiative aiming at establishing a permanent institutional framework for the partnership between the regions and cities of the EU and the Mediterranean Partner Countries that would allow them to enter into a direct dialogue with the European Institutions. The CoR initiative is undertaken in view of the effort to revive the Barcelona Process through the Union for the Mediterranean.
Socialists host new round of high-level talks on Middle East
The European Parliament Socialist Group hosted a high level conference on the Middle East in Brussels on 2 and 3 July. EU foreign policy supremo Javier Solana, Israeli minister Ami Ayalon and Palestinian deputy foreign minister Ahmed Soboh were among speakers at the opening session. Themes for discussion include peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, regional challenges, economic questions, the environment and the role of culture and education in solving the conflict.
Conference programme - Negotiations for a New EU/Russia Agreement were launched
On 27 June, the leaders of the European Union and the Russian Federation launched the negotiations for a New EU/Russia Agreement to replace the current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement which entered into force on 1 December 1997. According to the Joint statement of the EU-Russia summit, the new strategic agreement should provide for a strengthened legal basis and legally binding commitments covering all main areas of the relationship, as included in the four EU/Russia common spaces and their road maps which were agreed at the Moscow Summit in May 2005.
EU-Russia: first round of negotiations for the new Agreement
On 4 July, the negotiators of the European Commission and the Russian Federation met for a first round of talks on the new Agreement in Brussels. During this first meeting negotiators focused on defining the overall scope of the negotiations, the agenda for the different areas to be covered, and establishing a calendar for the negotiations. \"Our aim is to achieve a comprehensive and substantive Agreement that will serve as the institutional and legal basis for our relations for a long time to come. The new agreement will help to unlock the full potential of this partnership, which is based on so many common interests\" said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and ENP.
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner condemns new Law on Mass Media in Belarus
Benita Ferrero-Waldner, European Commissioner for External Relations and ENP, condemned the passing on 27 June of the new Law on Mass Media in Belarus: \"I deplore the adoption by Belarus parliament of a new Media Law that will further restrict the freedom of the press in Belarus. I regret that this law fails to take up the recommendations of Miklos Haraszti, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, who had cooperated with the Belarusian administration. This is a missed opportunity for the Belarusian authorities to improve the media conditions in Belarus and thus take a step towards democratisation\".
Javier Solana meets Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister
Javier Solana, European Union High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), on 3 July met the Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Hryhoriy Nemyria, who has responsibility for European integration issues. The meeting gave an opportunity to discuss the continued development of EU - Ukraine relations, the on-going constitutional reform process in Ukraine and relations with Russia. Energy security was also discussed. Mr. Solana encouraged Ukraine to move forward on its constitutional reform in order to assure greater political stability whilst focusing on bringing clarity to relations between the President, government and the Parliament.
Programmes and Projects
Euromed Justice II: a new step in cooperation in the field of justice
On 30 June 2008, the Opening Conference of the EuroMed justice II project was held in Brussels. The Conference was attended by 61high level participants. 8 MEDA countries were represented as well as 17 EU Member States. The new project was presented and discussed. The global objective of this project is to consolidate the rule of law based on common values, the strengthening of democracy and good governance. The project will sustain the development of institutional capacities of the MEDA partners in the field of justice as well as the modernisation of the legal systems and the improvement of access to justice for the most vulnerable persons. It will also provide assistance in the field of family law especially regarding cross border family conflicts and support criminal law reforms. Finally, the project is expected to develop two networks: a Euro-Mediterranean network of legal professionals and a network dedicated to Euro-Mediterranean Judicial Schools. At the end of the meeting, participants agreed on a provisional table of venues for the activities of the first year.
Euromed Aviation project
Within the framework of the Euromed Aviation Project a workshop took place in Nicosia, Cyprus on 2 - 3 July 2008 on the Extension of Common Safety Requirements. This workshop was organised with the full support of EUROCONTROL and the Department of Civil Aviation of Cyprus and focused on laying the foundation, mechanism and working arrangement for the extension of the Single Sky \"European Safety and Quality Requirements\" to the countries of EMAC (Europe Middle East Air Traffic Management Cooperation).
Regional Seminar on Women’s Economic Participation in the Southern Mediterranean
A Regional Seminar on Women’s Economic Participation was organised by the EU-funded Role of Women in Economic Life (RWEL) Programme, in cooperation with the Jordan Forum for Business and Professional Women, on 30 June-1July in Jordan.
Participants debated on the key challenges facing women’s labour force participation and entrepreneurship in the region. A key objective is to set a forward-looking agenda for policy advocacy, and discuss how key institutional actors can best translate into action-oriented strategies, programmes and action plans.
The ‘Role of Women in Economic Life’ is funded by the Regional Programme and aims at facilitating and expanding opportunities for women’s economic participation.
Transforming mental health services in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
The EU and WHO have joined forces with the Palestinian Ministry of Health to help improve the lives of people suffering from mental health disorders. Working closely together, the three parties have set out an ambitious work programme to help transform the provision of mental health services in the occupied Palestinian territory and bring relief to a fragile and often stigmatised segment of the population. The project will make substantial changes in key aspects of mental health service delivery.
Euromed Migration II project website on-line
The Euromed Migration II project has launched its new website, with information about its activities, components, useful documents and upcoming events.
EuroMed Migration II is funded by the EU\'s regional programme, with €5 million. It aims at creating an instrument for observing, analysing and forecasting migratory movements, their causes and their impact, in Europe and in the Mediterranean Partner countries. It looks into issues such as legal migration, migration and development and illegal migration, on which concrete cooperation is being promoted.
EuroMeSCO Paper 68: Putting the Mediterranean Union in Perspective
A study on “Putting the Mediterranean Union in Perspective” is available on the EuroMeSCo website. It seeks to enhance the present debate on the issue by providing an overview of the different views emerging in the main zones of the Euro-Med. It takes stock of the EU’s past and current policy for the Mediterranean in order to determine its future potential within the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) framework.
EuroMeSCo, funded by the EU’s Regional Programme, is a network of foreign policy research institutes carrying out studies and seeking to create relationships and widen the discussion, especially on the Euro-Med partnership and ENP issues.
New Financing Agreements signed with Moldov
On the 2 July, Financing Agreements worth €40 million were signed between the European Commission and the Republic of Moldova. The new aid package will support social reforms, improve border management, provide technical assistance and twinning opportunities and support civil society. In particular, this aid will help Moldova to implement its recently adopted social assistance law which foresees a better identification of beneficiaries and a targeted support to socially vulnerable families and individuals.
Civil aviation dialogue with Black Sea /Caspian Basin partners: towards a strong partnership
A strong commitment for strengthening safety and aviation cooperation is expected to be the main outcome the third meeting of the Traceca (EU Black Sea/Caspian Basin) Expert Working Group on Civil Aviation organised on 15 July 2008 at Issyk-kul Lake in the Kyrgyz Republic. The meeting aims at strengthening bilateral aviation relations between the EU and countries in Central Asia and the Black Sea / Caspian Basin region and to discuss the perspectives and the development of the aviation market in Central Asia.
Support to Ukrainian authorities to effectively respond to Irregular Transit-Migration
As part of the AENEAS 2006 programme, the €2.2 million, ERIT (Irregular Transit-Migration) project was officially launched on 24 June 2008 in Ukraine. A press conference was held on this occasion. This 24 months lasting project will support the Ukrainian migration system while at the same time strengthen the ties between the EU partner states and Ukraine in this area.
Combating illicit drug trafficking in Ukraine
On 27 June, participants to a press-conference in Kiev dedicated to the International Day Against Drug Abuse have praised the importance of BUMAD-led activities which achieves real successes in combating illicit drug trafficking in Ukraine. International cooperation and technical assistance are vital in improving law enforcement capabilities to withstand the trans-boundary drug trafficking, the participants concluded. Implemented in Ukraine since 2003, the Programme of Assistance for the Prevention of Drug Abuse and Drug Trafficking in Belarus, Ukraine and Moldova (BUMAD) is an EU-funded and UNDP-led project.
Marseille,07 22 2008