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French Version

Euromed News

MEETINGS

* The sixth Euro-Mediterranean Meeting of Foreign Ministers (‘Barcelona VI’) took place on 2 and 3 December in Naples, Italy in a positive and constructive atmosphere. Progress on many aspects of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership was reviewed, with a particular emphasis on the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, the future of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), and the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue of Cultures. The Ministers welcomed the creation by the Euro-Med Parliamentary Forum of a Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly and agreed to include the new body, in a consultative capacity, in the framework of the Barcelona Process. On FEMIP Ministers welcomed the conclusions reached on 25 November by the EU Council of Ministers, to develop this instrument further and to reinforce FEMIP within the European Investment Bank (see also Euromed Synopis No 250). In addition, Ministers decided the setting up of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation, to promote the dialogue of cultures and civilisations. As to the headquarters of the Foundation, Ministers instructed the Euro-Mediterranean Committee of the Barcelona Process to pursue work with a view to an agreement as soon as possible. Ministers also agreed that the report by the High-Level Group created by European Commission President Romano Prodi should help define the main principles that should guide the functioning of the Foundation. A number of political issues were discussed, including the Middle East Peace Process, Iraq, Human Rights and Democracy, and the Fight against Terrorism. All three chapters of the Barcelona Process (Political and Security, Economic and Financial, Social, Human and Cultural) were reviewed in detail, including Water, Environment, and Justice and Home Affairs. The Presidency Conclusions are on line at
http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/euromed/conf/naples/doc.htm

* The first Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Agriculture Ministers took place on 27 November in Venice, Italy. Ministers agreed to promote stronger agricultural ties between the countries around the Mediterranean and to develop and implement a work programme to be initiated by the EU in co-operation with the Mediterranean Partners. Special emphasis should be put on Climate Change and the Management of Water Resources.The work programme should focus on sustainable rural development, the quality of agricultural products and organic farming. Related issues “could in due course benefit from a specific regional programme funded by MEDA within the limits of available resources”, as specified in the Conference Conclusions. Other MEDA funded regional programmes could have a role to play, notably Local Water Management, the Euro-Mediterranean Water Network (EMWIS), and Euro-Med Market. The Conference Conclusions have been published on 3 December as Euromed Report No 69. They are available on line at
http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/euromed/publication.htm

* Participants in a Euro-Mediterranean Conference on Energy held at Ministerial level on 1 and 2 December in Rome agreed on the principle of a Euro-Mediterranean energy policy, aiming to promote the security of supplies, competitiveness and transparency of the markets, and environmental protection. The Conference was co-chaired by Italy’s Minister of Productive Activities Antonio Marzano, and Algeria’s Minister of Energy and Mines Chakib Khelil. The European Commission was represented by Vice-President in charge of Energy and Transport, Loyola De Palacio. Several concrete actions were decided as, for instance, the development of regional partnerships, the building of infrastructures projects of common interest, aiming at the consolidation of existing interconnections, and of new interconnection projects. A number of agreements and declarations of intent were signed during the meeting, including an Israel-Palestinian Authority Joint Declaration, a Protocol on the Maghreb Electricity Market, and a Declaration of Intent on the Mashrak gas market (see below). More on http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm . The speech delivered at the Conference by Ms Loyola de Palacio is available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/commissioners

* An Agreement on Energy Co-operation between Israel and the Palestinian Authority was signed on 2 December in Rome by Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure Joseph Paritzky and Palestinian Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Azzam Shawwa, under the auspices of the EU, in the presence of Italy’s Deputy-Prime Minister Gianfranco Fini and European Commission Vice-President Loyola De Palacio. This new framework aims at creating the concrete basis for an energy dialogue between Israel and the Palestinian Authority by identifying and promoting interconnection projects of common interest to be integrated into the Euro-Mediterranean Energy Partnership. Concrete measures agreed include building a joint electric generation plant, developing an electric and a gas interconnection, defining a joint framework for trade in electricity, developing co-operation on renewables, and setting up a common platform for the follow-up of Israeli-Palestinian energy co-operation. More details on http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm
The Protocol on the Maghreb Electricity Market provides for the establisment of a Common Electricity Market between Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia as from 2006. The Maghreb Electricity Market is to be gradually integrated into the EU’s Internal Electricity Market.
Trans-Mashrak gas pipeline should allow for Egyptian and Syrian gas to be supplied to the Mashrek gas market, the enlarged EU, and the Balkans. More on http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm

* A ‘5 + 5’ Summit Meeting will be held at Head of State level on 5 and 6 December in Tunis. Heads of State from the five Maghreb countries (Algeria, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, and Tunisia) and five European countries (France, Italy, Malta, Portugal, and Spain) are expected to take part. The meeting will also be attended by European Commission President Romano Prodi, and EU High Representative Javier Solana. The main themes to be discussed are Security and Stability in the Western Mediterranean, Economic Development and Integration in the Maghreb, Migration, and Dialogue between Cultures. Within Security and Stability, discussions will touch on the impact of the situation in Iraq and the Middle East, the fight against terrorism and international crime, and good governance. On the economic chapter of the meeting, EU representatives will explain how the new Neighbourhood Policy will offer fresh opportunities for sub-regional co-operation, notably in the Maghreb. On Dialogue between Cultures, President Prodi will recall results achieved within the Barcelona Process and outline prospects for further action with the increased involvement of citizens. The role of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation whose setting up was agreed at the Naples Ministerial Conference will feature high in the debate.

* The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee of donors to the Palestinian Authority (AHLC) will meet on 10 December in Rome to discuss the humanitarian and economic situation in the Palestinian Territories. Participants will look at the needs of the Palestinian population, the state of play of Palestinian reform, donor pledges, and obstacles to the implementation of international aid. The meeting will be attended by Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, Israel’s Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and a number of key Palestinian Ministers, including Foreign Minister Nabil Shaath and Minister for the Economy Salam Fayyad. European Commission Senior Officials will be present, as well as representatives of various donor countries, and international organisations such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

* The Task Force on Palestinian Reform will meet on 11 December in Rome. Participants will review progress made on Reform, and examine the Palestinian government’s programme, as well as measures to be taken in the first half of 2004. Discussions will focus in particular on the Rule of Law, the Judiciary, Financial Control, and Elections.

* Jordan’s Minister of Planning and International Economic Co-operation, Bassem Awadallah, was received by European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy on 1 December in Brussels, and by his colleague in charge of External Relations, Chris Patten on the next day. The Minister briefed Commissioner Patten on his government’s efforts to implement economic and financial reforms and to achieve the Jordanian socio-economic programme 2004-2006. The Kingdom’s needs in 2004 and EU assistance in the coming years were discussed. Mr Awadallah thanked the EU for providing € 35 million in budgetary support. Talks with Commissioner Lamy focused on EU-Jordan trade, and trade policy issues.

* The EU Council Presidency on 2 December issued a Statement on behalf of the EU on the ‘Geneva Initiative’ for Peace in the Middle East. “The EU considers the document presented in Geneva as a valuable contribution by the civil society in support of the Quartet’s Roadmap.” EU High Representative Javier Solana on 1 December congratulated the promoters of the ‘Geneva Initiative’. Both statements are on line at http://ue.eu.int . In addition, six Members of the European Parliament attended the formal launch of the ‘Geneva Initiative’ in Switzerland. Details are available at http://www.europarl.eu.int

* The 12th Round of EU-Syria negotiations for an Association Agreement will be held on 8 and 9 December in Damascus. Negotiations are now in their final phase. Discussions will cover all remaining issues, in particular tariff dismantlement for agricultural and industrial products, as well as trade in services.

* The Euro-Mediterranean Civil Forum met from 28 to 30 November in Naples in advance of the Ministerial Conference there. The Forum was organised and supported by the Fondazione Laboratorio Mediterraneo in collaboration with a Steering Committee including the NGO Platform for the Euro-Med Civil Forum, with the support of the European Commission. More than 200 participants, most of them from the South Mediterranean, adopted a Declaration entitled ‘Building Bridges, not Walls’, which was presented to the Naples Ministerial Conference. The text calls for an Action Plan for Civil Society in the region, a Sustainable Agriculture and Rural Development Policy, and the organisation of a Euro-Mediterranean meeting of Labour Ministers. The Civil Forum stressed the importance of freedom of association, assembly, and expression. The Declaration is on line at
http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/euromed/conf/naples/doc.htm

* Mayors of Euro-Mediterranean cities met on 30 November in Venice, Italy to discuss co-operation between Euro-Mediterranean local authorities. Various aspects of this co-operation were discussed, including the MEDA supported MED’ACT pilot project. The Mayors asked Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers meeting in Naples to agree on the principle of a MEDA funded Regional Programme devoted to co-operation among local authorities.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* IMPROVING THE QUALITY OF LEBANESE PRODUCTS
A € 15 million MEDA funded project will help to improve the quality of Lebanese products. A Financing Agreement to this effect has been signed recently by representatives of Lebanon’s ministry of Economy and Trade, and the European Commission Delegation in Beirut. The 4-year project aims at bringing Lebanese products up to EU and international standards.

PUBLICATIONS

* BROCHURE ON EU-MAGHREB RELATIONS
A brochure on EU-Maghreb Relations has been issued on 1 December by the European Commission Delegation in Tunis in advance of the ‘5 + 5’ Summit Meeting (see above). The brochure is available in a bilingual French-Arabic edition. E-mail: DELEGATION-TUNISIA@cec.eu.int .

MISCELLANEOUS

* LESSONS OF HISTORY IN LEBANON
A day of dialogue between young people and Lebanese politicians on the Lebanese civil war was organised on 29 November in Beirut by the ‘Memory for the Future’ NGO with support from the European Commission Delegation in Lebanon. The event was part of an awareness campaign by the NGO aimed at ‘understanding the war to ward off its repetition’.

Brussels,12 08 2003
European Union Redaction
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