* The EU Council of Ministers on 16 June adopted decisions approving the signing of two Agreements on Scientific and Technological Co-operation, one with Morocco, and the other with Tunisia. The Agreements will improve participation by the two Maghreb countries in the sixth EU research and Development Framework Programme (2003-2006), to which most Mediterranean Partners have access in a limited range of activities. Both agreements were initialled on 24 April.
* The European Investment Bank (EIB) on 13 June announced it was granting Tunisia two loans totalling € 260 million for the modernisation of hospitals, and in support of long-term investment by SMEs. € 110 million are being devoted to the modernisation or expansion of 30 regional hospitals. Another € 150 million are being provided to public and private banks or leasing companies for financing Tunisian SMEs in industrial and services sectors, including tourism, health, and training.
* The EU Council of Ministers on 16 June adopted a Joint Action amending and extending, until 31 December 2003, the mandate of the EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Miguel Angel Moratinos. The amended mandate includes the implementation of a programme relating to security issues, for which Mr Moratinos may be assisted by an expert charged with the practical implementation of operational projects related to security.
* Morocco’s Prime Minister Driss Jettou visited the European Commission in Brussels on 17 June. He met President Romano Prodi, External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, and Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy. Mr Jettou and President Prodi noted the excellent relations between Morocco and the EU. The Prime Minister confirmed his government’s commitment to press on with political and economic reforms in spite of the recent terrorist attacks in Casablanca. The implications of the ‘Wider Europe’ policy, and the important contribution that the Maghreb could make were also discussed. Mr Jettou and Mr Patten expressed satisfaction for the implementation of the Association Agreement, and the work started by the recently created sub-committees (see p 2). Both sides stated their willingness to move forward in fields such as human rights and democratisation, and the Prime Minister requested that Morocco’s housing needs be taken into account in MEDA programming for 2005-2006. Mr Jettou and Mr Lamy agreed that the next priorities on trade were liberalisation in services, and concluding agricultural negotiations. Commissioner Lamy said he counted on Morocco to play a leading role in regional integration. The forthcoming Palermo Trade Ministers’ meeting and the WTO were also discussed. Mr Jettou was accompanied by Morocco’s Ambassador to the EU, Mrs Ayesha Belarbi.
* The EU Council of Foreign Ministers meeting on 16 June in Luxembourg adopted Conclusions on the Middle East Peace Process. The text states that “Terrorist activities must cease immediately. … The Council is now urgently examining the case for wider action against Hamas fund raising…The Council called also on Israel to take action to restore trust and abstain from any punitive measures, including extra-judicial killings. The Council underlined the need for countries of the region to be constructive in the fight against terrrorism. Tackling the direct or indirect financing of terrorism remains a priority for the EU. Finally, the Council expressed its support to the Palestinian Authority’s commitment to make rapid progress on security, paving the way to the two states solution”. In the margins of the Council, the EU Troika met Palestinian Authority Minister Nabil Shaath. The Troika is made up of the current EU Greek Presidency, the EU High Representative Javier Solana, and European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten.
* The EU Council also adopted Conclusions on Wider Europe – Neighbourhood relevant to future co-operation with Mediterranean Partners (see Euromed Report No 61 of 18 June).
* An EU-Egypt Ministerial Meeting was held on 16 June in Luxembourg in the margins of the EU Council meeting. It took place in an excellent atmosphere. The two sides reviewed the state of bilateral relations, including progress made in the ratification of the Association Agreement, as well as a range of political issues of mutual interest. The Egyptian Delegation was led by Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, and the EU Delegation included Greek Foreign Minister George Papandreou, High Representative Javier Solana, and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten.
* European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy will on 21-22 June attend a mini-Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Sharm-el-Sheikh. The meeting will be hosted by Egypt’s Trade Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali with the aim of providing additional political impetus to current negotiations under the WTO ‘Doha Development Agenda’. The meeting will bring together Trade Ministers from around 30 WTO countries. Discussions will touch on agriculture, non-agricultural products, access to medicines, differential treatment for developing countries, and the ‘Singapore issues’ (competition, trade facilitation, public procurement, and investment).
* European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy will visit Jordan on 23 June to meet Jordanian government Ministers, and to take part in the extraordinary meeting of the World Economic Forum. Mr Lamy will meet Jordan’s Foreign Minister Dr Marwan Muasher, Minister for Planning Dr Bassem Awadallah, and Minister of Trade and Industry Dr Salah Eddin Al-Bashir. Trade aspects of the implementation of the EU-Jordan Association Agreement will be discussed, as well as the ‘Agadir Process’ of creating a free trade area between Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia. The Commissioner will reaffirm his support for this initiative, and examine ways in which Jordan can be assisted in speeding up economic reform. In addition, Mr Lamy will deliver a speech on EU Trade Relations with the Mediterranean Region and the Middle East at the World Economic Forum.
* Jordanian Prince Hassan bin Talal visited the European Commission in Brussels on 17 June. He met President Romano Prodi and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten. Discussions touched on co-operation between cultures, religions, and ethnic groups, on the future Euro-Mediterranean Foundation, and the High Level Group of Experts set up by President Prodi. The Prince is President of the Club of Rome, and initiator of a ‘Parliament of Cultures’ whose aim is to promote dialogue between civilisations.
* The European Parliament on 18 June devoted a plenary session held in Brussels to the situation in the Middle East. Both EU High Representative Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten delivered statements on the occasion.
* The EU-Morocco Sub-Committee on Environment, Transport and Energy held its first meeting on 16 and 17 June in Brussels. The Sub-Committee is one of six senior officials’ specialised working groups set up under the EU-Morocco Association Agreement to boost co-operation with a view to establishing the Euro-Mediterranean Free trade Area planned within the Barcelona Process. On Energy priorities have been identified, which include a Euro-Maghreb Electricity Market, and security of installations. On Maritime Safety the possibility of setting up a twinning system for approximation of legislations will be examined. On Air Transport the EU side expressed its wish to enter into negotations with Morocco for a bilateral Agreement. Morocco is the first Mediterranean Partner with which such Sub-Committees have been put into operation.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* LAUNCHING WORKSHOP FOR ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME’S REGIONAL UNIT
A workshop will be organised on 23-25 June in Rome, Italy by the Regional Management and Support Unit (RMSU) established in the framework of the Regional Euro-Mediterranean Programme for the Environment (REMEPE). The RMSU aims to enhance regional co-operation, communication, and networking among beneficiaries of projects funded under REMEPE and other environment stakeholders, including SMAP correspondents in the MEDA region to promote best environmental practices, to reinforce management capacities of REMEPE-financed projects, and to increase the visibility of those projects. The workshop is organised by the Italian Agency for the Environment and Technical Services (APAT), which manages the RMSU jointly with the Finnish Environment Agency (SYKE) as a result of a call for tender. Communication and networking strategies are, inter alia, expected to be discussed.
* INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SEMINAR IN CAIRO
An International Seminar on the Role and Impact of Arab Media will take place on 24 June in Cairo. It is organised jointly by the Arab Media Society, Dubai (United Arab Emirates), and the European Commission Delegation in Egypt. Speakers and participants will be journalists and other media professionals, intellectuals and academics from the Arab World and Europe. The Seminar will be opened by the European Commission Head of Delegation Ian Boag, and the Executive Director of the Arab Media Society, Khaled El Ferm.
Brussels,06 23 2003
European Union Redaction