* The Quartet met on 26 September in New York at ‘Principals’’ (Ministerial) level and adopted a Statement in which its Members “view with great concern the situation in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, which has stalled implementation of the roadmap. … Each party must do more to immediately and simultaneously address the core concerns of the other, as described in the roadmap”. See full text on http://ue.eu.int/newsroom . The EU Council of Ministers meeting on 29 September in Brussels recalled the Quartet’ s Statement and called “on Palestinians and Israelis fo fulfil their obligations and responsibilities”. The Council also “stresses the need to re-establish a cease fire”. See full text on
* The 4th EU-Tunisia Association Council took place on 30 September in Brussels. The Tunisian Delegation was led by Foreign Minister Habib Ben Yahia. The implementation of the Association Agreement was discussed in depth. The Tunisian Minister stressed how his country had faced a difficult economic climate over the last few years and efficiently started to overcome it. He pointed to progress made on tariff dismantling, and to Tunisian expectations for the MEDA National Indicative Programme 2005-2006. The European Commission mentioned encouraging achievements on social affairs, migration, international norms and standards, as well as tariff dismantling, while reiterating the importance it attaches to developing political dialogue, notably in the light of the ‘Wider Europe/New Neighbourhood’ Policy. The Association Council decided to set up six sectoral sub-committees with the Association Committee (Internal Market, Trade/Industry, Transport/Energy, Research, Agriculture, and Justice/Security). Political Dialogue took place over dinner on 29 September, the EU side being represented by Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten. International political issues and democratic transition were discussed. The Commission mentioned some difficulties in the implementation of EU funded projects related to governance and democracy.
* European Commissioner for Enlargement Günter Verheugen on 29 September received separately Tunisia’s and Turkey’s Foreign Ministers, Habib Ben Yahia and Abdullah Gül respectively. With both Ministers the state of play of the ‘Wider Europe/New Neighbourhood’ Initiative was discussed. Mr Ben Yahia said his country welcomed the initiative, and Mr Verheugen announced he would visit Tunisia in early 2004. Mr Gül expressed a keen interest in ‘Wider Europe’ as a representative of a candidate country. Mr Verheugen is the Commissioner responsible for the Task Force on Wider Europe.
* The President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), Philippe Maystadt, and the EIB Vice-President in charge of operations in the Mediterranean Partners, Philippe de Fontaine Vive, have been in Cairo on 1 and 2 October to celebrate the official opening of the Bank’s new regional office in the Egyptian capital. This is the first EIB office outside the EU, and it serves not only Egypt, but the whole Middle East. During their visit Mr Maystadt and Mr de Fontaine Vive are scheduled to have talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Prime Minister Atef Ebeid. The new office has been established in the framework of the EIB’s Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), which has provided over € 1.65 billion in new loans in the 11 months of its existence.
* The European Union and Morocco on 29 September reached an agreement in principle on revising the bilateral Agricultural Protocols as provided for in the Association Agreement. There was agreement on tomatoes and cereals, that had been the two stumbling blocks in the negotiations. A technical meeting will be held on 7 October in Brussels to finalise the texts of the Protocols and to launch the endorsement procedures on both sides.
* The European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the Maghreb Countries and the Arab Maghreb Union is in Algeria for the 7th EU-Algeria Joint Parliamentary meeting taking place from 30 September to 3 October. The Delegation was received by Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, Foreign Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem, and Members of the People’s National Assembly and the Nation’s Council. Meetings took place with the National Assembly’s political groups, and with civil society and media representatives.
* The Euro-Mediterranean Working Group on Industrial Co-operation meets on 2 and 3 October in Rome, Italy at senior officials’ level. The meeting, which is jointly organised by the Italian Presidency of the EU Council, and the European Commission, is expected to draw up a strategy to promote investment, innovation, access to finance, and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the Euro-Mediterranean Region. The strategy is modelled on that developed with countries acceding to the EU, and is designed to pave the way for the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. In addition, a Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Entrepreneurship is to be tabled at the meeting for adoption next year at Ministerial level. Two issues are of particular relevance to the meeting. One is the free movement of industrial goods, and the other the development of an environment favourable to the competitiveness of enterprises and foreign investment in the region, including access to finance for SMEs. A number of MEDA funded bilateral and regional programmes help the private sector in the Partners modernise and adapt for the challenges ahead.
* The EU-Morocco Sub-Committee on Research and Innovation will hold its first meeting on 6 and 7 October in Brussels. The Moroccan side will present the assessment made of the country’s National Research System by the recent National Workshop, and the priorities for implementing its recommendations. On Information Society matters, both Morocco and the EU will make presentations of their respective situations and prospects as regards regulatory aspects, policies and strategies (eMaroc and eEurope 2005), EU-Morocco co-operation under the sixth EU Research Framework Programme, and the MEDA funded EUMEDIS Regional Programme. There will also be a preliminary discussion of possible bilateral projects. The Sub-Committee should adopt work programmes on both Research and Information Society. On Education and Culture, Moroccan representatives will make a presentation of Higher Education Reform, and the European Commission will introduce the ‘Jean Monnet’ Initiative on EU Affairs teaching in universities. There will be an exchange of views on Dialogue between Cultures, notably in the light of ‘Rabat, Capital of Arab Culture 2003’. Audio-visual Policy will also be discussed, notably the on-going reform in Morocco, and the EU ‘Television Without Frontiers’ Directive. In addition, activities foreseen in Morocco in 2003 under the Netd@ys Initiative, and in 2004 under eSchola will be outlined.
* A partnership event on Electronic Document Management will take place on 3 October in Beirut under the EU funded MEDRESSA initiative. The event will bring together European IT providers and Lebanese users covering a broad range of sectors, including public administrations, banks, small businesses, and large industrial firms.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* 1ST NATIONAL CO-ORDINATORS’ MEETING FOR REGIONAL TRANSPORT PROGRAMME
The first seminar held under the MEDA funded Regional Euro-Med Transport Programme on 24-25 September brought together in Tunis National Co-ordinators chosen by each of the 12 Mediterranean Partners. The € 20 million Euro-Med Transport Programme is designed to boost modernisation of the transport sector. Its general objective is to support the gradual establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area, notably by helping to promote exports, mobilise private investment, and foster regional integration as well as economic and social development. The programme’s main component (€ 10 million) includes the following activities: Diagnosis of Transport in the MEDA Region; Setting up Regional Tranport Action Plans; Strengthening Political Dialogue and Support to specialised groups created by the Euromed Transport Forum; Launching Targeted Studies on issues identified through the Diagnosis; Identification of Infrastructure Projects to be prioritised for support with a view to extending the Trans-European and Mediterranean Transport Networks. Work is going ahead as planned. A team of experts is working on preparations for the Diagnosis, and identification of a first set of studies. A co-ordinating office for the whole programme is being established in Tunis. A second National Co-ordinators’ meeting is due to be held in the first Quarter of 2004. More information soon on
* A VADE-MECUM, A THESAURUS AND A MANUAL FOR TWINNING OF EURO-MED ADMINISTRATIONS
A Vade-mecum, a Thesaurus, and a draft Manual designed to facilitate implementation of the Association Agreements, notably twinning of administrations between the two shores of the Mediterranean, were presented by European Commission officials to EU Member States’ National Contact Points at a meeting held on 25 September in Brussels. The meeting was held in the context of the MEDA funded Support Programmes to the Implementation of Association Agreements (‘AAAs’). Those programmes benefit Mediterranean Partners linked to the EU through an Association Agreement already in force, and receiving bilateral aid under MEDA. The Vade-mecum is a self-contained tool providing the rules to be followed for planning and implementing AAAs. The Thesaurus is a data base aimed at helping MEDA Partners to better plan twinning projects using experience gained within the PHARE Programme for Central and Eastern Europe. In this regard, participants in the meeting underlined the importance of twinning and the AAAs in relation to work being done in Euro-Med bilateral sub-committees, and against the background of the ‘Wider Europe’ Initiative. The Twinning Manual is in preparation.
* WORKSHOP ON PROMOTING CULTURAL HERITAGE LOCALLY
Participants in the MEDA funded DELTA Project, part of the EUROMED HERITAGE II Regional Programme, will exchange experiences at a Workshop on Integrated Management and Promotion of Cultural Heritage to be held from 9 to 11 October in Arles, France. The DELTA Project aims at promoting tools allowing for the integration of cultural heritage in the broadest sense into local development policies. It is co-ordinated by Italy’s Mediterranean Institute (IMED), and involves institutions in charge of managing cultural heritage in 5 Mediterranean Partners (Algeria, Israel, Malta, Morocco, and the Palestinian Territories) and 4 EU countries (France, Greece, Italy, and Spain).
Brussels,10 06 2003
European Union Redaction