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Euromed News

DECISIONS

* The EU Council of Ministers on 25 November agreed to further develop the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), and to reinforce it within the European Investment Bank (EIB). The Council came to that conclusion on the basis of the FEMIP experience and the consultation with Mediterranean Partners. Within the ‘reinforced’ FEMIP up to € 200 million from the EIB’s reserves would be dedicated to allow for extended risk-sharing operations of up to € 1 billion. A trust fund of initially € 20-40 million would be established for directing resources to projects in certain priority areas (water, transport, electricity, human capital). In addition, the Policy Dialogue and Co-ordination Committee would be transformed into a Ministerial Committee of Finance Ministers. The Council also agreed to transfer the ‘surplus margin’ in the EIB lending mandate of € 2,180 million to the Mediterranean Partners. More at http://ue.eu.int

MEETINGS

* The sixth Euro-Mediterranean Meeting of Foreign Ministers (‘Barcelona VI’) will take place on 2 and 3 December in Naples, Italy. Key issues to be discussed are the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, and the future of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). Ministers are expected to welcome the agreement reached by the Euro-Med Parliamentary Forum in October on the modalities for setting up a Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, and to agree to include the new Assembly, in a consultative capacity, in the framework of the Barcelona Process. FEMIP will be discussed on the basis of the evaluation reports and the EU Council meeting (see above). In addition, Ministers should agree on setting up the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation as a network of networks in the initial stage. Many other aspects of the Partnership will be reviewed, with a particular emphasis on water. The Ministerial Conference will be preceded by meetings of Senior Officials of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership responsible for Political and Security Issues, and the Euro-Mediterranean Committee for the Barcelona Process on 1 and 2 December respectively, also in Naples. Those meetings will complete preparations for the Ministerial Conference in the relevant chapters of Barcelona.
More at http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/euromed/conf/naples/index.htm

* The High-Level Advisory Group on Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures in the Euro-Mediterranean Area officially presented their report to European Commission President Romano Prodi on 24 November in Brussels before presenting it to the Press. President Prodi, on whose initiative the Group has been established nearly a year ago, welcomed the quality of the report and stressed “the need to take practical steps to restart dialogue before time runs out”. The High-Level Group, co-chaired by Moroccan law professor Assia Alaoui Bensalah and French journalist Jean Daniel, puts forward 20 proposals which flesh out three guidelines (Make education a vehicle for learning about diversity and transmitting knowledge of the Other; promote mobility, exchanges and the exploitation of expertise, skills and best practice; and make the media a vital instrument of equality and mutual knowledge). The proposals include supporting language learning and comparative teaching of religions and cultures, encouraging local associations and the monitoring best practice in intercultural dialogue, as well as integrating cultural diversity into the training of media professionals and making the Mediterranean more visible on television. Proposals in the report take into account EU residents originating in the South and East Mediterranean. The High-Level Group believes the future Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures (see above) should play a central role in operating the dialogue provided it is independent and endowed with sufficient resources. http://europa.eu.int/comm/commissioners/prodi/ .

* The first Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Agriculture Ministers is taking place on 27 November in Venice, Italy. It aims at identifying ways to strengthen co-operation on structural agricultural issues of common interest, notably water and water use in agriculture. A recommendation to the ‘Barcelona VI’ Ministerial Conference (see above) should be approved. The speech delivered at the Conference by European Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler on “The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership: Looking beyond our Wider Borders” is available at http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm

* A ‘Euro-Mediterranean Conference towards a New Euro-Med Partnership on Investment Promotion, Infrastructure Financing and Energy Supply Security’ will be held at Ministerial level on 1 and 2 December in Rome. The Conference will be co-chaired by Italy’s Minister of Productive Activities Antonio Marzano for the current EU Council Presidency, and Algeria’s Minister of Energy and Mines Chakib Khelil, who will open the Plenary Ministerial Session. Opening statements will be delivered by representatives of the previous and next EU Presidencies, Greek Minister of Development Apostolos-Athanassios Tsohatzopoulos and Irish Minister of State John Browne respectively, as well as by European Commission Vice-President in charge of Energy, Loyola De Palacio. Three parallel sessions will be held on 1 December. One of them entitled ‘Rome Euro-Mediterranean Energy Industry Summit’ will bring together Ministers and top-level representatives of the energy industry, regulators, transmission system operators, and the financial sector. Another session will be devoted to Infrastructures, and the third one will address Financing of Energy Investments. The Closing Plenary and adoption of the Conclusions will take place on 2 December. A draft Declaration has been prepared and adopted at the Euro-Mediterranean Energy Forum meeting on 20 November in Brussels. The Forum meeting, which was attended by representatives of all 27 Euro-Mediterranean partners, also approved a Communication to the Ministerial Energy Conference. The draft Declaration underlines the interest of the partners in establishing an effective Euro-Mediterranean Energy Partnership and carrying out infrastructure projects of common interest. The Forum meeting also enabled participants to fine-tune the Annexes to the draft Declaration, which outline a number of sub-regional initiatives.

* The EU Council of Ministers on 25 November adopted Conclusions on Human Rights and Democratisation with Mediterranean Partners. “While some progress has been made in these areas to a varying degree, the Council considers that … further serious efforts are needed to improve the overall situation in the region with regard to respect for human rights and democracy”. http://ue.eu.int

* The 2nd EU-Lebanon Economic Dialogue took place on 24 November in Brussels. The Lebanese Delegation was led by the Minister of Economy and Trade, Marwan Hamadeh. The two sides agreed to deepen coordination on implementation of the Association Agreement and accepted the idea in principle of establishing an experts group to examine areas of concern to Lebanon, such as high energy and production costs facing industry. The EU policy for Wider Europe featured prominently in the discussions, including Lebanon’s expressed enthusiasm to fully participate in it. Contacts on trade matters will continue through the network of trade co-ordinators set up earlier this year.

* Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was received by European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy on 24 November in Brussels. Discussions mainly focussed on Euro-Mediterranean Trade. Mr Olmert expressed his country’s interest in the Pan-Euro-Mediterranean system of rules of origin endorsed by the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Trade Conference last July in Palermo, particularly as Israel intends to achieve cumulation with Jordan. Bilateral issues related to rules of origin were mentioned as well. Approximation of laws and regulations on norms and standards in the Euro-Mediterranean area was also discussed in the context of the work launched in Palermo. The Israeli Minister stated that he was very much looking forward to progress in this area. Another topic in the talks was the WTO’s Doha Development Agenda, where Mr Lamy explained EU preparations for the next multilateral meeting scheduled for 16 December.

* Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Economic Co-operation, Bassem Awadallah, will be received by European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten and his colleague in charge of Trade, Pascal Lamy on 2 December in Brussels. During his meeting with Mr Patten, Mr Awadallah will outline his country’s economic priorities, and describe steps taken by the new Jordanian government. Talks with Mr Lamy will focus on EU-Jordan trade and trade policy issues, including the Qualified Industrial Zones.

* The European Parliament on 20 November adopted two resolutions relevant to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. One is a joint resolution on Euro-Mediterranean relations adopted in advance of the Ministerial Conference in Naples, which notably calls for the conversion of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Forum into a parliamentary assembly with consultative power. The other addresses the Wider Europe/New Neighbourhood Policy. http://europarl.eu.int

* The Euro-Mediterranean Civil Forum will meet from 28 to 30 November in Naples, Italy in advance of the Ministerial Conference there. The Forum is organised by a Steering Committee with a wide representation of Euro-Mediterranean civil society. The meeting aims at laying the basis for a permanent and constructive involvement of civil society in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, and proposing ways of going beyond the deadlock generated by the situation in the Middle East and in Iraq. Participants in the Forum will also look at the state of play of the Partnership in the context of EU enlargement, and propose strategies for raising awareness in the EU’s acceding countries. Other issues to be addressed are freedom, sustainable development and dialogue between cultures.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* EURO-MED MARKET WORKSHOP ON COMPETITION RULES
A Workshop on ‘Competition Rules: State Aid and Anti-competitive Practices’ will be held from 1 to 3 December in Barcelona within the 2nd phase of the MEDA funded EURO-MED MARKET Regional Programme. The workshop, which is the second in a series of three, aims at further developing bilateral and multilateral administrative co-operation established during the first phase of the Programme, addressing the regulatory areas that require the approximation of laws and harmonisation of procedures, and encouraging exchange of experience and best practices. In addition, each Mediterranean Partner will present a preliminary draft Action Plan. The sessions will cover Policy Enforcement, Market Analysis and Economic Challenges, as well as Institutional Management. Participants will be senior representatives of Ministries and Members of National Competition Authorities, who should become contact points for the future EuroMed Competitition Network. Also taking part will be representatives of the European Commission and the European Institute of Public Administration, which co-ordinates the Programme. EURO-MED MARKET aims to help the Mediterranean Partners prepare themselves for the future Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. More on http://www.euromedmarket.org

* THIRD FEMISE CONFERENCE
The MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Economic Institutes (FEMISE) will hold its Third Conference from 4 to 6 December in Marseilles, France. The first two days will be devoted to presentations of ongoing research work funded by FEMISE under its 2002 Call for Proposals. Themes to be addressed include Foreign Direct Investment in the region, Poverty, the Informal Sector, Healthcare and the Labour Market, the Textile and Clothing Industry, the Role of Women. Discussions on the last day will focus on contributions analysing the effects of the Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements, and the prospects for the EU’s New Neighbourhood Policy. The Conference Programme is available at http://www.femise.org

MISCELLANEOUS

* EUROPEAN FILM WEEKS IN MOROCCO
European Film Weeks are organised in Morocco by the European Commission Delegation in Rabat for the 13th year in a row. This year Tetouan will be the first Moroccan town to welcome the event, from 3 to 12 December. Rabat, Casablanca, Safi, and Meknes will follow. Films by European, Moroccan, and other South Mediterranean directors will be screened. The European Film Weeks are placed under the aegis of Morocco’s Ministry for Culture in partnership with the country’s Film Centre.

Brussels,12 01 2003
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