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French Version

Commission calls on Council to take new steps to reinforce relations with Mediterranean partners

The European Commission today proposed the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue of Cultures, a Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly and a fully fledged subsidiary of the European Investment Bank (EIB) building on the existing FEMIP1. In its Communication to prepare the next meeting of Foreign Ministers from Europe and the Mediterranean to take place on 2 and 3 December in Naples, the Commission also proposed a series of steps to complete the free trade area and a co-operative approach to improving respect for human rights and democratisation.

The Commission reaffirms its commitment to setting up the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the dialogue of cultures. This Foundation would work to improve mutual understanding, particularly through the involvement of civil society in all areas of inter-cultural dialogue. Some of the funding would come from the MEDA programme but the Commission emphasises the importance of contributions from all Euro-Mediterranean partners as a signal of their commitment to it. A particular emphasis is also placed on the role of education and youth exchanges to combat racial and cultural stereotyping and discrimination. As far as migration is concerned the Commission calls for a comprehensive approach balancing security concerns and the management of migratory flows on the one hand with the social integration of migrants on the other.

Co-operation on respect for human rights and the process of democratisation is crucial to the success of the Partnership. The Commission confirms its commitment to co-operation with each of the partners, designed to lead to the implementation of joint action plans in this field, with financial support from the EU, to give practical form to the international commitments which all the Mediterranean partners have taken on. In this context, the Commission urges the Euro-Mediterranean Parliaments to reach agreement so that a Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly can be created to enhance the democratic dimension of the Partnership.

The Communication also sets out a number of steps to be taken to complete the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area. The main ones, to be in place before the new Member States join on 1 May 2004, include the ratification of the Association Agreements with Egypt, Algeria and Lebanon by all the EU Member States; the finalisation of the negotiations on the Association Agreement with Syria; and encouraging the countries involved in the 'Agadir' process - Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan - to conclude the free trade arrangements among themselves with a view to achieving closer integration among the Maghreb countries The Communication calls also for greater infrastructure interconnection in energy, transport and telecommunications, notably on a sub-regional basis.

The Commission notes that its Euro-Mediterranean approach is in line with the Wider Europe/New Neighbourhood policy and looks forward to drawing up Wider Europe national action plans leading to closer integration between Europe and the countries of the region.

Brussels,11 03 2003
European Union Redaction
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