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The European Commission Delegation in Damascus on 20 May announced that the European Investment Bank (EIB) was lending Syria € 50 million for the modernisation and development of the port of Tartous in the south of the country. The works include the rehabilitation and construction of passenger and cargo terminal facilities. They will be implemented by the Ministry of Transport. The investment is part of the efforts to modernise and develop Syria’s ports, as the bulk of the country’s foreign trade is sea borne.


* Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers will meet on 26 and 27 May in Crete for a ‘mid-term meeting’ a year after adopting the Valencia Action Plan. High on the agenda will be a joint assessment on the eve of the enlargement of the EU of how to define the role of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership in reducing tensions following the war in Iraq, and with recent terrorist attacks in the region and the continuing uncertainty in the Middle East Peace Process. The European Commission’s Communication on ‘Wider Europe’ is one of the main bases for discussion. Foreign Ministers from the acceding countries will be attending such a meeting for the first time, though two of them, Cyprus and Malta, have previously attended as Mediterranean Partners. Ministers will be taking stock of progress made since the Valencia Ministerial Conference, and discuss what more needs to be done to improve the implementation of the Action Plan. The 35 partners are expected to approve a Declaration on the Guiding Principles of the Dialogue of Cultures and Civilisations, and to confirm the first steps in setting up a Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue of Cultures. In addition, Ministers should reach agreement on a number of specific actions, including Speedy implementation of the Association Agreements; Deepening political and security co-operation, notably against terrorism; Improving respect for human rights and democracy; and Bringing regulation gradually in line with the EU Internal Market. On Human Rights the European Commission on 22 May announced it had adopted a Communication entitled ‘Reinvigorating European Union actions on Human Rights and democratisation with Mediterranean Partners’, to be presented at the Ministerial Meeting in Crete.

* The 3rd Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Energy took place on 20 and 21 May in Athens, Greece under the Presidency of Greece who currently holds the EU Presidency. The ministers adopted a Declaration aimed to strengthen and deepen co-operation in that area by developing concrete actions, and taking advantage in particular of the FEMIP Facility managed by the EIB, given the crucial role of EIB loans and MEDA funds to prepare the ground for modernisation. European Commission Vice-President in charge of Energy and Transport Loyola De Palacio took the opportunity of the Conference to present the recent Commission Communication on Developing energy co-operation with neighbouring countries. She underlined the necessity of developing jointly a Euro-Med strategy in the energy field, while considering the fact that investment in energy infrastructure lies primarily with the private sector. The Commissioner also emphasised the importance of interconnecting electricity, gas, and oil networks. The maps for future Trans-Euro-Mediterranean Energy Networks were circulated. The Communication and Ms De Palacio’s presentations in Athens can be downloaded from the web site
The maps are available at
In the margins of the Conference, the Algerian, Moroccan, and Tunisian Energy Ministers signed a Memorandum of Understanding on co-operation for integrating their electricity markets in the Maghreb region, and integrating them at a later stage into the EU internal electricity market. In addition, Israeli and Palestinian Energy Ministers decided to set up a working group with the European Commission in order to identify energy projects of common interest.

* European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin will attend a National Workshop on Research in Morocco scheduled for 26 and 27 May in Rabat. The programme includes thematic workshops on subjects such as research in universities and international co-operation, as well as workshops on research areas, notably medical research, agriculture, energy, and computer science.

* The MED Committee met on 21 May in Brussels. Favourable opinions were given on the MEDA global allocation, and on the mid-term review of the National Indicative Programmes (NIPs) 2002-2004. The € 25 million global allocation will support small-scale operations over 18 months, such as identification studies for future programmes, cultural and information activities of the Commission Delegations, the organisation of Euro-Mediterranean meetings, and a few pilot projects.


A workshop on Competition Rules will take place from 26 to 28 May in Berlin, Germany 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 7th in a series of 8 workshops designed to promote information and exchange of experience in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The meeting’s more specific objectives are to identify the regulatory areas that require the approximation of the Partners’ laws and procedures to those of the EU, to exchange information, and to update the Partners’s ministerial departments or institutions dealing with competition. Presentations will be made of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership Competition Policy, of EU Member States’ Competition Authorities, and of the Mediterranean Partners’ current systems. Three specialised working groups will discuss Restrictive Practices, Abuse of a dominant position, and Concentrations; Liberalisation of Economic Sectors, Privatisations, and Government Intervention; and The Type of Institution/Agency needed for enforcing competition rules 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 area of Competition Rules. Participants will be senior officials in Ministries dealing with competition issues, National Competition Authorities’ representatives, and a European Commission representative as Euro-Med Market is managed by the Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. 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.

For the first time Euro-Mediterranean films having received support from the MEDA funded Euromed Audiovisual Regional Programme have been screened at the Cannes Film Festival. One of them is a Belgian-French-Moroccan co-production directed by Morocco’s Faouzi Bensaidi and entitled ‘Mille mois’ (A Thousand Months), screened as part of the official selection within the ‘Un certain regard’ category
The other is a Franco-Moroccan co-production called ‘Les yeux secs’ (Dry Eyes) by Moroccan director Narjiss Nejjar, and screened at the Directors’ Fortnight
Both films have received support under the MEDEA project. The € 5 million MEDEA project is a support mechanism for the pre-production phase of feature film and documentary co-productions, also providing training, that has received € 4 million under MEDA.
Euromed Audiovisual has two information stands within the EU Pavilion at the Cannes Festival, one for the programme as a whole and another for the Europa Cinémas project.


EU Humanitarian Aid to the Mediterranean region delivered through the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) in 2002 amounted to nearly € 50 million. Of this amount € 35 provided support to people living in the Palestinian Territories, and to Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. Another € 14.34 million went to Western Saharan refugees living in the Tindouf region of Algeria. The ECHO 2002 Report can be downloaded from the web site http://europa.eu.int/comm/echo/

Brussels,05 26 2003
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