The Enlarged Working Group set up by the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Forum met in Brussels on 16-17 October and reached agreement on the modalities for setting-up a Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly. This should now be welcomed by the Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers meeting on 2-3 December in Naples.
* The High-Level Advisory Group on Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures meeting on 13 and 14 October in Alexandria presented some 20 proposals for action to the European Commission President Romano Prodi, and to those attending the TEMPUS MEDA Regional Conference. The Group’s Report will be presented in November to take into account remarks and proposals made by participants in the Conference. The proposals for action give practical follow-up to three major guidelines: How to make education a central vector for learning about others and respecting diversity; How to foster mobility and exchanges and take know-how, skills, and better social practice into account; How to make the media a key tool for promoting equality and mutual knowledge. The Group will complete their report to President Prodi in the light of their discussions with participants in the Conference. The report will serve to identify the initial activities and initiatives of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation that the European Commission proposed to establish. In the Group’s view, the Foundation should help trigger the renewal of dialogue between cultures. To this end, it needs unfettered independence and the capability to reflect the region’s cultural diversity if it is to succeed in giving coherence to all measures involving civil society.
* Senior Officials of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership responsible for Political and Security Issues met on 22 October in Rome. There was a joint meeting with representatives of the Euro-Mediterranean network of Foreign Policy Institutes (EuroMeSCo). Senior Officials then discussed Partnership Building Measures, the European Commission Communication on Human Rights in the Mediterranean, and the Wider Europe Initiative in advance of the Ministerial Meeting in Naples on 2-3 December. In addition, the EU informed the Partners of the Dialogue on the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), and preparations were made for the Ad Hoc Meeting on Terrorism scheduled for 6 November.
* The Euro-Mediterranean Committee for the Barcelona Process met on 23 October in Rome. The Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue of Cultures was discussed with a view to the forthcoming Naples Ministerial Meeting. In addition, a presentation on Migrations was made by the Director General of the International Centre for Migration Policy Development, Jonas Widgren.
Ø EU-Syria Negotiations for an Association Agreement are entering the final phase, as has been demonstrated by the 11th Round that took place on 15 and 16 October in Brussels. The meeting covered practically all outstanding issues, and good progress was made. Important work however remains to be done on trade related issues, including tariff dismantling, infant industries, agriculture, and services. The next round of negotiations should be held in the first half of December.
* The EU-Morocco Association Committee held its 3rd meeting on 21 October in Rabat in a good and co-operative atmosphere. The main focus was on the implementation of the Association Agreement. In that context the Committee agreed to establish a Sub-Committee on Human Rights, Democratisation and Governance. There will be exchanges of views on how the Sub-Committee will be set up, how it will work, and what short and medium term goals it will have. An agreement was also reached on the short and medium term objectives of the Sub-Committee on Justice and Security, which will hold its first meeting on 14 November. On services, the two sides stated their determination to initiate negotiations on liberalising trade early in 2004. In the meantime, experts’ meetings will be held to agree a common approach in this regard. A number of other subjects relating to the Association Agreement were discussed, including Free Movement of Goods, EU Enlargement, and Economic, Social, and Financial Co-operation. As to Morocco’s proposal for obtaining an ‘Advanced Status’ in its relations with the EU, the Committee agreed to look deeper into the future of bilateral relations taking into account the convergence between Moroccan ideas and the EU’s New Neighbourhood Policy. To this end a second meeting of the informal working group on the ‘Advanced Status’ will be held early next year. In addition, there was an exchange of views on issues of common political interest whereby the Committee agreed to establish a High Level Political and Strategic Dialogue.
* The European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council met on 22 October in Strasbourg, France. A presentation on the construction of the separation wall in the Palestinian Territories was made by Adel Atieh, Candidate-Doctor in International Relations, Bethlehem.
* The Euro-Mediterranean Transport Forum will hold its 4th meeting on 28 October in Brussels. The opening session will give an overview of Transport Co-operation under MEDA and plans for defining a Euro-Mediterranean Transport Network to be linked with the Transeuropean Transport Network. Ongoing Euro-Mediterranean Transport Co-operation will then be presented and discussed, including MEDA bilateral co-operation, the MEDA funded Euromed Transport Regional Programme, and the EU INCO-MED programme for research and technology. The prospects for co-operation in the fields of maritime safety and security (SAFEMED Project), satellite navigation (GALILEO), air transport agreements, as well as ports and short sea shipping will also be presented and discussed. Other topics to be addressed are financing, notably prospects for the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), and the Forum’s institutional framework, its working groups in particular.
* A Conference on dialogue between religions will be held on 29 and 30 October in Rome on the initiative of the current Italian EU Council Presidency under the title ‘Inter-religious dialogue as a factor of social cohesion in Europe and a peace instrument in the Mediterranean area’. In advance of the Conference the European Commission organised a meeting on 21 October in Brussels with NGOs of religious inspiration in the presence of experts from the Italian Presidency. Discussions focused on immigration and the fight against prostitution and human trafficking.
* The Maritime Transport Working Group’s Sub-Group on Maritime Policy, Ports and Short Sea Shipping, set up within the Euro-Mediterranean Transport Forum, held its 2nd meeting on 20 October in Brussels. Participants agreed to look in more detail at Maritime Safety and Security (with a view to implementing the ESPS Code by July 2004), Port Reform and the Computerisation of Ports, including Customs Services. The Sub-Group also agreed to promote Short Sea Shipping in the Mediterranean area, and to set up training programmes on the transfer of know-how between the EU and the Mediterranean Partners on Port Reform Issues and Short-Sea Shipping within the context of intermodal transport.
* The 15th MEDA funded Information and Training Seminar for Euro-Mediterranean Diplomats will be held from 24 to 27 October in Malta. Malta’s Foreign Minister Dr Joe Borg will deliver a speech on EU Enlargement and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Presentations will be made of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and its link to the Wider Europe/New Neighbourhood Policy by EU representatives. A working session will then be devoted to each of the three chapters of the Barcelona Process (Political and Security; Economic and Financial; Social and Cultural). A high participation rate is expected, also from the acceding countries due to join the EU next May.
* A MEDA supported business event called ‘EU-Mashrak Partenariat’ is taking place from 23 to 25 October in Damascus. It brings together hundreds of companies from Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and EU countries for business meetings aiming at establishing various forms of co-operation. http://www.eu-mashrek2003.com . see also Euromed Synopsis No 244.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* SESAME STREET PUPPETS FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Tailor-made episodes of the popular Sesame Street TV series for children, produced as ‘Sesame Stories’ in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories within the MEDA supported EU Middle East Peace Projects can be watched on public television in Jordan, Hop! TV in Israel, and The Ma’an Network in the Palestinian Territories. The 26 episodes of each national adaptation of the famous series aim to promote long term respect and understanding among Palestinian, Israeli, and Jordanian children through a pair of puppets who explore similarities and differences while learning about their own culture, their neighbours, and the big wide world. Sesame Stories strives to counter the negative images that children see on television every day. The Jordanian and Palestinian versions of Sesame Street, both called ‘Hikayat Simsim’ (‘Sesame Stories’ in Arabic), were produced by Jordan Pioneers media production company, and the Institute of Modern Media of Al-Quds University respectively. The Israeli version was made under the title of ‘Sippuray Sumsum’ (‘Sesame Stories’ in Hebrew) by Zebra Communications, which operates ‘Hop!’, a violence-free TV channel for children. The three versions were co-produced by Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organisation that created Sesame Street more than 30 years ago, and helped adapt the programme to some 120 countries around the world, including Egypt, Germany, China, and Mexico. In addition to the TV series, educational material such as teachers’ guides, posters, and audio/video cassettes has been produced under the Sesame Stories project. The total budget amounted to € 7.14 million, with the EU providing € 2.5 million. More on projects for peace in the Middle East at
* PROGRESS ON ENERGY MANAGEMENT IN MEDITERRANEAN CITIES
An Energy and Environment Atlas of Beirut and its surroundings was one of the achievements presented at the Seminar for the MEDA funded umbrella Project ‘Energy and Urban Environment in the Mediterranean Countries’ held on 20 and 21 October in Madrid. The Seminar was also an opportunity to present progress made within ongoing projects such as Energy Management in Algerian Cities, and a study on energy and environment in Damascus. An important focus of the seminar was the financing methods for Energy Projects. The Energy and Urban Environment Project is co-ordinated by Spain’s Institute for Energy Efficiency and Renewables (IDAE).
* ‘BUILDING BUSINESS BRIDGES’ PROJECT FOR ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN CO-OPERATION
A group of Israelis and Palestinians is currently studying to get an MBA, and more importantly to prepare themselves to work together in a multi-cultural environment, thanks to the EU supported ‘Building Business Bridges’ Project, launched on 22 October in Herzliya in the presence of the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Israel, Giancarlo Chevallard. The fully accredited MBA Programme is taught by Haifa University’s Graduate School of Business. ‘Building Business Bridges’ also includes a ‘Middle Eastern enrichment curriculum’ covering a wide range of political, social, and economic Middle Eastern and Israeli/Palestinian issues, as well as local, regional, and international study missions, and a final project which involves working with local and international companies in assessing the feasibility of new business activities in the region.
* TUNISIAN-BASED NGO GETS PRIZE FOR EU SUPPORTED SCHEME
A Tunisian-based NGO called ‘Enda Inter-arabe’ has been granted the Prize for Small, Medium-Sized, and Micro Enterprises for its EU supported micro-credit scheme. The Prize is awarded yearly by the Business Institute of Stellenbosch University in Johannesburg, South Africa. The micro-credit scheme was launched in 1995 and received nearly € 1 million under an EU-Tunisia bilateral programme. Today it serves some 9,000 ‘micro-entrepreneurs’, 90% of them women.
* EUROPEAN COMMISSION PROPOSALS FOR NAPLES ON THE WEB
The complete text of the European Commission proposals for the next Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference scheduled for 2-3 December in Naples, Italy is now available on the web at http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/euromed/conf/naples/index.htm . The steps proposed by the Commission to reinforce relations with the Mediterranean Partners had been announced on 15 October (see Euromed Synopsis No 244).
Brussels,10 27 2003
European Union Redaction