* EU High Representative Javier Solana met Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmud Abbas on 29 July in Cannes, France to discuss progress in the implementation of the Quartet ‘Road Map’ for the Middle East. Mr Solana reaffirmed the total support of the European Union to the reformist policies of the Palestinian Prime Minister and his government. He also reiterated the EU’s determination to continue its constructive engagement with the parties through the Quartet for a peaceful solution to the Middle East crisis. They discussed developments in the region, including in the field of security, and addressed measures to make the Palestinian security structures more robust. Javier Solana introduced to Mr Abbas the new Middle East EU Special Representative, Ambassador Marc Otte.
* The MED Committee met on 25 July in Brussels. Favourable opinions were given on a number of measures. One of them is the mid-term review of Morocco’s National Indicative Programme (NIP) 2002-2004, which involves focusing part of the funds earmarked for the Northern Provinces on the ‘Mediterranean Rocade’ road project, and transferring another part to Transport Sector Reform. The allocation of the remaining funds for the Northern Provinces will most likely be determined in the course of programming for 2005-2006.
The National Financing Plans (NFPs) 2003 for five Mediterranean Partners were also given the green light by the Committee. The NFP for Algeria (€ 25 million) focuses on a Modernisation and assistance programme for administrative reform. The NFP for Egypt (€ 127 million) comprises six programmes, including the South Sinai Regional Development Programme, the ‘Children at risk’ Programme, the rural and social components of Financial and Investment Sector Co-operation, the third chapter of the Trade Enhancement Programme, and a programme of Promotion of the Association Agreement. The NFP for Jordan (€ 47 million) is made up of three programmes: Emergency budgetary assistance to reduce the social impact of the war in Iraq, the EJADA Industrial Modernisation Programme, and the Al Meyah programme of support to the management of water resources. The NFP for Lebanon (€ 43 million) comprises four programmes: Integrated support to SMEs; Reinforcement of quality management; Agricultural development; and Strengthening of civil society. Finally the NFP for Morocco (€ 212.8 million) is made up of 8 different activities. The main ones are the Support programme for transport sector reform, the ‘Mediterranean Rocade’ project, and the Border control management programme. Other components of the National Plan include Institutional support for the movement of persons, two interest rate subsidies for sanitation in Moroccan towns, and two other interest rate subsidies, one for de-polluting the Mohammedia power plant, and the other for environmental protection.
Committee members also gave a favourable opinion on the proposal to convert the contributions made under the Special Cash Facilities for the Palestinian Authority into a non-reimbursable grant. This means that, in view of the persistent fiscal shortfall affecting the Palestinian budget, a normally refundable amount of € 57.8 million would no longer have to be repaid by the Palestinian Authority. The Special Cash Facilities were created by the European Commission to help the Palestinian Authority cope with the budgetary impact of the freeze of monthly transfers of tax receipts by the Israeli government.
Finally the Committee gave a favourable opinion on the restructuring of Egypt’s Industrial Modernisation Programme. The changes planned would modify the distribution of funds within the overall € 250 million budget, increasing the amount earmarked for budgetary support aimed at measures in favour of SMEs, and lowering the level of funding for technical assistance.
* The Preparatory Meeting for the 24th EU-Cyprus Joint Parliamentary Committee will take place on 3 September in Strasbourg, France. The Joint Parliamentary Committee itself will meet in late September in Luxembourg.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* Towards an Energy Efficiency Management Policy in Mediterranean Cities
A number of activities have been launched since 2001 to raise awareness of Energy Planning in towns and cities of the South Mediterranean within a MEDA supported project called ‘Energy and Urban Environment in the Mediterranean Countries’. The project’s Follow-up Committee met on 28 and 29 July in Barcelona, Spain to take stock of past activities, and to look to the work that needs to be completed before the project ends in November. The project is co-ordinated by Spain’s National Agency for Renewables and Energy Efficiency (IDAE). It involves ‘pilot’ towns and cities in 11 Mediterranean Partners (Alexandria, Algiers, Azoun, Beirut, Ben Arous, Bursa, Damascus, Gozo, Irbid, Limassol, Paphos, Rabat, and Tubas), as well as organisations in France, Greece, Italy, and Spain, and the Association of European Municipalities for a local sustainable energy policy (Energie Cités). A training seminar for municipal staff of the pilot cities held last year in Madrid enabled local authority managers to become more familiar with the technologies and tools of energy planning. Two thematic seminars were also organised last year, one on the Use of geographical databases for urban energy management, and the other on Public Lighting and Energy Demand Side Management. Two other thematic seminars are scheduled for October, one on Co-generation in Alexandria, and the other on Urban Transport Management in Rabat. The final Follow-up Committee Meeting and a further seminar on Financing instruments will be held in late October. Training visits to Europe of Mediterranean technicians are also planned, as well as a workshop and a study tour. In addition, a web site and a newsletter for the project are expected to be launched by September 2003.
* Support to Pre-production of Audio-visual Works
Independent film production companies in the Euro-Mediterranean Region can get ready. A new Call for proposals will be launched in early August within the MEDEA project, part of the MEDA funded Regional Euromed Audiovisual Programme. Financial support and professionals’ training will be provided for the development of 12 audio-visual works (feature films and creative documentaries) proposed by independent production companies. There will be two training sessions for feature films and as many for documentaries, covering Development/Script, Financing and Legal Aspects, and Marketing and Distribution. The amount of financial aid granted by MEDEA will not exceed 50% of the total budgeted cost, with a maximum of € 20,000 for each project. The deadline for submitting proposals will be 31 October.
* EIB Activity Report 2002
The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently published its Activity Report 2002, which includes a section on ‘The new Euro-Mediterranean financial partnership’. EIB loans to Mediterranean Partners in 1998-2002 totalled € 6 billion. The report is on the EIB web site
NOTICE: There will be no edition of the Euromed Synopsis in August. The next issue will be published on 4 September.
Brussels,08 01 2003
European Union Redaction