* The first Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Agriculture Ministers will take place on 27 November in Venice, Italy on the initiative of the current Italian Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers. The Conference aims at identifying ways to strengthen co-operation on structural agricultural issues of common interest such as quality upgrading, protection of natural resources, food safety and security, denomination of origin, rural labour, and the fight against poverty. A recommendation stressing the need to devote special attention to those issues within the Barcelona Process should be approved by Agriculture Ministers to be presented to Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers meeting on 2-3 December in Naples. The Agriculture Conference will be preceded by a Pan-Mediterranean Conference on Fisheries due to end the previous day in the same city.
* The fourth session of the EU-Israel Association Council was held on 17 and 18 November in Brussels. The meeting was chaired by Israel. The Israeli delegation was led by Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. The EU was represented in open Troika-format (the Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini for the Presidency, the High Representative Javier Solana, the Commissioner Chris Patten and Foreign Minister Brian Cowen for Ireland, which will hold the EU Presidency in the first half of 2004). A number of other Member States Ministers for Foreign Affairs participated in the political session on 17 November. A frank and constructive discussion took place on a whole range of issues of common interest, including the Middle East Peace Process and the Road Map, the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian Territories, Iran, and Iraq. On Wider Europe, the Israeli side welcomed the EU initiative and indicated that a high level task force had been created by the Israeli authorities to work with the European Commission. The EU stressed that the initiative’s full potential would be achieved in a context of peace. Various economic and trade issues were discussed in the context of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Among these were rules of origin where further talks between the European Commission and the Israeli authorities are envisaged. Both sides mentioned the good participation of Israeli enterprises in the first call for proposals launched under the sixth EU Framework Programme for Research. The Israeli government expressed their interest in developing co-operation on Energy, Environment, Justice and Home Affairs. The EU Statement prepared for the meeting can be downloaded from the EU Council web site: http://ue.eu.int .
* The EU-Lebanon Economic Dialogue will take place on 24 November in Brussels. The Lebanese Delegation will be led by the Minister of Economy and Trade, Marwan Hamadeh. The first session will be devoted to macro-economic developments and outlook in both Lebanon and the EU. The Lebanese side will outline in particular budgetary developments and policies to address imbalances after the Paris II Meeting, the country’s monetary and trade policies, and the impact of the Iraq war on the national economy. Other sessions will address Investment and Competitiveness in Lebanon, Issues related to the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement, including the impact of the Interim Agreement, and EU Enlargement and the Wider Europe Initiative. On the following day Mr Hamadeh will be received by European Commission Senior Officials in charge of External Relations and Trade.
* The European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the Maghreb countries and the Arab Maghreb Union will meet on 26 November in Brussels. The situation in the Western Sahara will be discussed with representatives of the Polisario movement. The Delegation should also have an exchange of views with the Director of the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO), Costanza Adinolfi.
* The MED Committee will meet on 21 November in Brussels to exchange views on Good Governance in the Mediterranean Region, and the Annual Report 2003 on Structural Adjustment Facilities and Direct Budgetary Support. As regards Governance, discussions will focus on the results of the EU-sponsored Conference which was held on 18-19 October in Beirut with the participation of NGO and academic representatives from the 8 Arab Mediterranean Partners, as well as Iran, Iraq, and Yemen. The Conference drew inspiration from a recent World Bank report which put the cost of bad governance in the region at 1% of GDP growth. Issues raised at the Conference included the underlying causes of bad governance, and conditions for improvement (the role of government and that of civil society both in terms of advocacy and public service delivery). As to MEDA funded budgetary support operations, the Commission has submitted to the Committee a comprehensive report on the implementation of these programmes. It concerns 11 ongoing programmes benefiting 4 Partners in the Mediterranean Region (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia), and totalling € 788 million. Most programmes are sectoral in scope and aim at reforming institutions in fields such as external trade, health, education, and water. The Palestinian Authority also received budgetary support in 2001 and 2002 until the regular transfer of funds from customs duties by the Israeli government was resumed.
* A Conference on co-operation between regions across the Mediterranean will be held on 27-28 November in Palermo, Italy under the title ‘United by the Mediterranean’. This will be the closing event for a series of four conferences held in October and November in Italy on the initiative of the current Italian Presidency of the EU Council. Representatives of EU and Mediterranean regions will present the conclusions of previous conferences and discuss the role and contribution of regions to economic, social, cultural, and human integration in the Mediterranean area. Proposals having emerged from the whole series of events will be submitted to the Naples Ministerial Conference in December.
* The meeting of the EU-Morocco Sub-Committee on Justice and Security, which was scheduled to take place on 20 November in Brussels, has been postponed. The meeting could be held some time in December.
* A Conference on the ‘Impact of the Euro-Mediterranean Integration Process on the Financial Services Industry in the Mediterranean Region’ will be held on 27 and 28 November in Valletta, Malta. The Conference is organised by the World Savings Banks Institute and the Mediterrean Bank Network under the auspices of the current Italian Presidency of the EU Council. Keynote addresses will be delivered by Italy’s Minister of Economy and Finance Gian Paolo Ruggiero and his Maltese counterpart John Dalli. Other speakers include representatives of the European Central Bank, the European Investment Bank, and the International Monetary Fund.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* EURO-MEDITERRANEAN FILMS IN PRAGUE
The MEDA supported EUROPA CINEMAS network will hold its 8th Annual Conference from 27 to 30 November in Prague, Czech Republic, bringing together film professionals from EU Member States, accession countries, and Mediterranean Partners. Although the forthcoming EU Enlargement to mainly Central and Eastern European countries will feature high in the discussions, prospects for and problems of Mediterranean films will also be addressed. A pre-view of 5 European and Mediterranean films will take place on the first day. Within a session devoted to new media, participants will discuss European and Mediterranean countries’ regulations on the release of films in cinemas, on TV and in video format, as well as the economic impact of piracy. One of the Conference workshops will address the networking of distributors and exhibitors in the Euro-Mediterranean area. The last session will be devoted to prospects for the EUROPA CINEMAS network.
* EUROPEAID ANNUAL REPORT 2003 NOW ON LINE
The Annual Report 2003 on EU Development Policy and the implementation of external assistance in 2002 is now on-line at http://europa.eu.int/comm/europeaid/reports/index_en.htm in all EU official languages (English, Danish, Dutch, German, Finnish, French, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish) .
Brussels,11 24 2003
European Union Redaction