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* The European Commission on 5 September announced it had approved the MEDA National Financing Plans 2003 for five Mediterranean Partners (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco) totalling € 314 million. The Financing Plan for Algeria (€ 25 million) focuses on a modernisation and technical assistance programme for the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, Trade, and Transport. The Financing Plan for Egypt (€ 63 million) comprises five programmes. The biggest are ‘Social Development and Civil Society: Children at risk’ (€ 20 million), a programme aimed at improving the financing system for the benefit of small-scale farmers (€ 18 million), and a programme designed to facilitate access to credit and other services for small and medium-sized enterprises or SMEs (€ 17 million). Another € 6 million will go towards the reform of Egyptian customs services, and a further € 2 million allocation will help promote the Association Agreement. The bulk of the € 42 million Financing Plan for Jordan is an emergency budgetary aid of € 35 million designed to offset the negative effects of the war in Iraq and help maintain the country’s economic stability. An additional € 5 million will reinforce the EJADA Industrial Modernisation Programme in favour of SMEs. Another € 2 million will support the management of water resources through the Al Meyah Programme. The Financing Plan for Lebanon (€ 43 million) consists of four programmes, with € 17 million earmarked for establishing a service provision network for SMEs, € 15 million for Quality Management Support, € 10 million for improving the market-garden production of fruit and vegetables, and € 1 million in aid to Lebanese civil society. The Financing Plan for Morocco (€ 141 million) includes direct budgetary aid of € 96 million for reforming the transport sector through adapting the legislative and institutional framework to liberalisation, € 40 million for improving migration management, and € 5 million for better managing the legal movement of workers between the EU and Morocco.

* The first loan granted by the European Investment Bank (EIB) in support of the private sector in Syria (€ 40 million) was signed on 10 September by EIB Vice-President Philippe de Fontaine Vive during a visit in the country. The loan is made available to Syria’s Ministry of Economy and Foreign Trade for setting up a fund which will manage the EIB credit facility and on lend the proceeds to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) having qualifying projects in the sectors of industry, services, tourism, health, and training. Technical assistance to the fund will be funded by the EIB out of EU budgetary resources. The whole operation is being financed under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP).

* The European Commission on 5 September announced it had approved 12 environment projects in 8 Mediterranean Partners (Algeria, Cyprus, Israel, Malta, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Turkey) that will receive funding totalling some € 4.2 million under the LIFE Third Countries Programme 2003. The Algerian project deals with asbestos. A joint Algeria-Morocco-Tunisia project will improve the management of North African Wetlands. In Cyprus projects will tackle waste management and sustainable urban planning. The Israeli project is about the use of a Demonstration Centre in the Arab Community. The project in Lebanon aims at creating a stable structure for protected areas. Setting up Malta’s first coastal nature reserve is the LIFE Project’s goal in that country. The Moroccan project deals with groundwater in the Sahel-Doukkala region. In Tunisia LIFE will help develop an Eco-Label related to the sectors of textiles, tourism, and agriculture. Finally in Turkey LIFE projects will focus on agricultural waste and environmental legislation.


* European External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten will visit Syria on 15 and 16 September to boost ongoing negotiations for an Association Agreement with the EU, and to discuss developments in the region. The Commissioner will meet President Basher El Assad, members of the outgoing Syrian government, and members of the business community. The Middle East Peace Process and Iraq will feature high in the discussions.

* European Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin is visiting Tunisia on 11 and 12 September to discuss scientific co-operation policy and get first hand knowledge of the country’s research activities. The Commissioner’s programme includes meetings with Tunisian Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, Minister for International Co-operation Mohamed Nouri Jouini, Minister for Higher Education, Scientific Research and Technology Sadok Chaâbane, and Secretary of State for Scientific Research Sadok Korbi. Discussions focus on the implementation of the recent EU-Tunisia scientific co-operation agreement, which facilitates Tunisia’s participation in the activities of the sixth EU Research and Development Framework Programme (2003-2006). Mr Busquin is also meeting Tunisian scientists and visiting a number of scientific institutions. Tunisia developed 52 research projects and co-operation networks within the fifth Framework Programme, and 97 Tunisian teams have submitted research proposals under the sixth Framework Programme.

* A Conference on Wider Europe and Israel took place on 7 September in Jerusalem at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Conference was opened by Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Among the speakers were European Commission senior officials, as well as Israeli parliamentarians, senior officials, entrepreneurs, and academics.

* The European Parliament (EP) Delegation for Relations with the Mashrak Countries and the Gulf met on 10 September in Brussels. There was an exchange of views with an adviser to the Jordanian Embassy, on the results of the election in Jordan. Delegation Members also exchanged views on the visit of a working party to Lebanon and Syria last June. The EP Delegation for Relations with Israel met on the same day in Brussels. There was an exchange of views on the report of the delegation visit to Israel last May, and Members discussed a possible visit by the delegation to Israel next spring.

* The High-Level Advisory Group on Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures held its 4th plenary meeting on 8 and 9 September in Brussels under the co-chairmanship of Assia Alaoui Bensalah and Jean Daniel. Group members selected a drafting committee from within their ranks that they entrusted with preparing a draft report by late September that they wish to be as close to the final version as possible. They agreed on the basic principles, on action concepts, and operational guidelines to be turned into practical projects. Those should lead to a new definition of Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures in the Mediterranean Region, which would give it the place required by the combined effects of globalisation and developments in the EU (Enlargement and the Convention) as well as in the Euro-Mediterranean region, notably the Partnership.

* The MED Committee will meet on 17 September in Brussels. Committee members are expected to give an opinion on the National Financing Plan 2003 for Tunisia, and on Assistance to East Jerusalem. The European Commission will inform the Committee of the state of play of repairs made to the runway of Gaza Airport. In addition, there will be an exchange of views on applying the principle of gender mainstreaming in co-operation programmes to the Mediterranean Region.

* The EU Israel Forum’s International Conference will take place on 14-15 September in Stresa, Italy. The yearly event will address the theme ‘The EU and Israel: from Commonalities to Partnership-Building’. European and Israeli senior officials in their private capacity, business people, and academics will discuss the EU and Israel’s common heritage, Economic and technological co-operation, political and diplomatic hindrances, and the future of EU-Israel relations. The Conference will be opened by Italy’s Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Senator Alfredo Mantica, and Israel’s Ambassador to Italy, Ehud Gol. Concluding remarks will be delivered by Giancarlo Chevallard, the European Commission Head of Delegation in Israel.

* A Conference entitled ‘Two States for two Peoples’ was held on 9 September in the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels to allow Israel’s Ami Ayalon and Palestinian Professor Sari Nusseibeh to present their "People’s Voice” Declaration, which calls for peace and reconciliation, and has been signed so far by some 40,000 Israelis, and 30,000 Palestinians. Sari Nusseibeh is the President of Al Quds University in Jerusalem, and the leader of “The People’s Campaign for Peace and Democracy” in the Palestinian Territories. Ami Ayalon is the former Head of the Israeli Internal Security Service, and the leader of “People’s Voice Initiative” in Israel. They both described their project to members of the EP Foreign Affairs Committee after the Conference.

* The Closing Conference for the preparatory phase of the MEDA funded ‘Education and Training for Employment’ (ETE) Regional Programme will be held on 18 and 19 September in Brussels. High-level representatives of Mediterranean Partners and EU Member States will discuss the priorities and activities of the new programme on the basis of work prepared within thematic workshops earlier this year. They are expected to contribute to the final version of the Programme’s concept paper. The ETE Programme’s aims include combating and preventing unemployment, supporting the occupational integration of young people, and increasing co-operation among Euro-Mediterranean education and training institutions.


Representatives of over 100 South Mediterranean Youth organisations, and their counterparts in the EU and non Mediterranean accession countries will convene in Malta from 17 to 21 September to launch the Euro-Med Youth Platform, a meeting point for young people set up within the MEDA funded Euro-Med Youth Regional Programme with support from the Maltese government. The launching ceremony will be held on 18 September in the presence of Maltese Minister for Youth and the Arts Jesmond Mugliett, and European Commission officials. The 4-day event will allow youth leaders from across the Mediterranean to exchange ideas and experiences, and to make new contacts. Over 13,000 young people and youth leaders have taken part in Euro-Med Youth activities (youth exchanges, voluntary work, and support measures) in the period 2000-2003.
http://www.euromedp.org and http://www.salto-youth.net

The Arabic language ‘Beit Hagefen’ Theatre Company, based in Haifa, Israel, will on 15 September embark on a two-week tour of Morocco with the support of the EU under the MEDA Regional Cultural Projects. During the tour 12 performances of ‘Makamat’, a play by Morocco’s Tayeb Saddiki, will be presented in 8 Moroccan cities (Rabat, Agadir, Casablanca, Jedida, Marrakesh, Suara, Tangiers, and Titwan. Following the tour the Beit Hagefen Theatre Company will continue to perform ‘Makamat’ throughout Israel. The tour is seen as a step to renew cultural ties between Israel and Arab countries.


A multicultural Sextet called ‘Orient-Express’ will tour Egypt from 11 to 18 September with support from the European Commission Delegation in Egypt, and the Dutch Embassy in Cairo. ‘Orient-Express’ is made up of one Lebanese, two Iraqis, and three Dutchmen. They give a jazz flavour to classic Arab songs, and an oriental flavour to Western tunes. They will perform in Alexandria on 11 and 18 September, in Cairo on 13 and 16 September, and in Minyya on 14 and 15 September.

Brussels,09 15 2003
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