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Euromed News

DECISIONS

* The European Investment Bank (EIB) on 11 December announced the signing of a € 230 million loan to Algeria for the reconstruction of public infrastructure and social housing in the areas affected by the earthquakes last May. The loan was signed on 11 December in Algiers by the Director-General of the Algerian Development Bank, Saddek Alilat, and the EIB Vice-President in charge of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), Philippe de Fontaine Vive. The loan aims to enable rehabilitation of housing and all basic economic and social amenities, including in the fields of environment, transport, energy, health and education. Beneficiary areas include the Wilaya of Boumerdes, the one that suffered most from the earthquakes, and those of Algiers, Tizi Ouzou, Tipaza, Bouira, Blida, and Medea. A second loan worth € 20 million is expected to be signed in early 2004 to help rebuild businesses. http://www.eib.org

MEETINGS

* The European Council on 12 December adopted a number of statements of interest to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, including on Interfaith Dialogue, and the Middle East Peace Process. The European Council made up of EU Heads of State or Government has reaffirmed “the strategic importance of the Mediterranean for the European Union”, and confirmed “its resolute determination to reinforce co-operation significantly with the Mediterranean Partners”. On the Middle East Peace Process the European Council called again “on both parties, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, to immediately and simultaneously fulfil their obligations and responsibilities under the Road Map”. The European Council also stressed “the importance of establishing a credible and effective monitoring mechanism including all members of the Quartet”, and welcomed “initiatives from civil societies on both sides, including the Geneva Peace Initiative”. On relations with the Arab World, the European Council welcomed the report formulated by EU High Representative Javier Solana and the European Commission. (see below). On Interfaith Dialogue, the EU Heads of State or Government encouraged “the relevant Ministers to support a sustained, open and transparent dialogue with the different religions and philosophical communities as an instrument of peace and social cohesion in Europe and at its borders”. They reaffirmed “the EU’s firm commitment to oppose any form of extremism, intolerance and xenophobia” and strongly condemned “all manifestations of anti-Semitism”. The European Council Conclusions are on line at http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm

* A paper on ‘Strengthening EU’s Relations with the Arab World’ and another one called ‘A Secure Europe in a better World’ have been drawn up by EU High Representative Javier Solana and the European Commission, and presented to the European Council on 12 December. The paper on Relations with the Arab World spells out reforms to be encouraged, such as “good governance, democratisation, … trade liberalisation between and within EU and the Arab world, … gender equality,… and religious and cultural dialogue”. The ‘Secure Europe’ paper states that “Resolution of the Arab/Israeli conflict is a strategic priority for Europe” and that “The European Union’s interests require a continued engagement with Mediterranean Partners, through more effective security, economic and cultural cooperation in the framework of the Barcelona Process”. Both papers can be downloaded from the web site http://ue.eu.int (Click on ‘Javier Solana’, then on ‘Previous Latest News’).

* The EU Council of Ministers on 15 December adopted a statement on ‘Energy Infrastructure in a Wider Europe’, which “notes that Energy has a pivotal role for the development of the European Union’s relations with its neighbours and partners”. The statement highlights recent achievements in energy-related Euro-Mediterranean co-operation. The text is available as part of the Council conclusions of 15 December at http://ue.eu.int

* A ‘Tri-Partite’ Meeting held on 15 December in Jerusalem brought together high-level representatives of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and international donors to the Palestinians, including the EU, under the chairmanship of the United States. Participants looked into issues related to the Palestinian economy and difficulties the internatonal community is facing in delivering aid. The EU was represented by its Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Ambassador Marc Otte, and European Commission representatives.

* An international conference entitled ‘Children and the Mediterranean’ will be held from 7 to 9 January 2004 in Genoa, Italy. The conference is organised by the Gerolamo Gaslini Foundation under the patronage of the President of the Italian Republic, the European Commission, and the Presidency of the Italian Council of Ministers. It aims primarily at enhancing awareness of children’s rights in private and public organisations involved in policies and projects for children and youth in the Mediterranean region. Participants will include Euro-Mediterranean government officials, physicians, social researchers and other academics, and NGO representatives. Closing remarks will be delivered by European Commission President Romano Prodi. More on http://www.medchild.org

* A visit to Morocco by European Commissioner in charge of Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Günter Verheugen, scheduled for 11 December, was cancelled at the last minute.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* LAUNCH WORKSHOP FOR PROGRAMME OF SUPPORT TO EU-JORDAN ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT
A workshop was held on 9 and 10 December in Amman to launch the MEDA funded Support Programme for the implementation of the EU-Jordan Association Agreement (SAAP). The workshop, the first of its kind in the Mediterranean region, was organised on the European Commission’s initiative and was opened by Jordan’s Minister of Planning. It aimed primarily at presenting the tools provided by the Commission for preparing and implementing projects within the Support Programme. The tools are a Vade-mecum (document gathering SAAP procedures), a Thesaurus (data base of institutional twinning operations) , and a Twinning Manual for the use of Jordanian and EU Member States’ administrations in preparing and implementing twinning projects. Standards, Sanitary/Phytosanitary, and Customs Procedures/Trade Enhancement have been selected as priority areas to be addressed in the first projects. Participants in the workshop included members of the Programme Administration Office, Focal Points in relevant Jordanian Ministries, European Commission representatives, officials from EU Member States Embassies, and National Focal Points in France, the UK and the Czech Republic. The Programme builds on the experience gained by current EU Member States and acceding countries within the EU enlargement process, and should serve as an example for other Mediterranean Partners, also in the framework of the Wider Europe/New Neighbourhood initiative.

* PROGRAMMES FOR SMALL BUSINESS, ELECTIONS AND THE JUDICIARY IN PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES
The signing by the European Commisson and the Palestinian Authority of Financing Agreements for three MEDA funded co-operation programmes totalling € 32 million was announced on 6 December by the European Commission Representation in Jerusalem. A € 15 million programme will provide emergency support to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the West Bank, Gaza and East-Jerusalem survive the current economic crisis. The EU will also provide € 10 million in support of the electoral process, including the establishment of a new and independent Palestinian Election Commission. In addition, a € 7 million assistance programme in the judicial sector aims to reinforce the independence of the judiciary through institutional support, training, and provision of equipment.

* COMPUTERISED MANAGEMENT FOR MEDITERRANEAN HERITAGE
Results of a project on Computerised Management of Documents will be demonstrated on 19 and 20 December in Tunis at a meeting of the Steering Committee and Scientific and Technical Committees of the IPAMED Project, part of the MEDA funded Euromed Heritage I Regional Programme. Participants will assess the results of IPAMED, which aims at creating computerised maps of heritage sites in Tunisia, using a model that can be replicated elsewhere. IPAMED is co-ordinated by Tunisia’s National Heritage Institute. The project has also involved partners from Algeria, the Palestinian Territories, France, and Italy.

* HUMAN RIGHTS PROJECTS SELECTED IN JORDAN
Twelve NGOs will share a total of € 800,000 from MEDA funds to implement 7 Human Rights Projects whose selection was announced on 14 December by the European Commission Delegation in Amman. The projects will be implemented during 2004-2005. Priority themes they will address include Strengthening the capacities of civil society, Raising public awareness of Human Rights, Promoting freedom of expression and independent media, Strengthening women’s rights, and Protecting the rights of children and young people.

* BUSINESS DAYS IN TUNISIA
Business Days were held on 12 and 13 December in Port El Kantaoui, Tunisia on the theme of ‘Business and the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership’. The event was organised by the Arab Institute of Entrepreneurs with support from the European Commission Delegation in Tunis. Discussions mainly focused on North African business facing integration with the EU, Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and Joint Development, and the Maghreb Dimension in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.

PUBLICATIONS

* CONSOLIDATED TEXT OF NAPLES MEETING CONCLUSIONS ON THE WEB
The consolidated text of the official conclusions for the Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting held on December in Naples is on line at http://

* PAPER ON CORRUPTION AND FORUM ON MOROCCO’S MUADDANA ON THE EUROMESCO WEB SITE
A paper on “Corruption and the Challenge of Civil Society” in the Mediterranean region was published on 15 December by the MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission (EuroMeSCo). The 27 page document can be downloaded from the web site http://www.euromesco.net . A new discussion forum on the same web site offers visitors the opportunity to express their views on Morocco’s revision of the Family Code or Muaddana.

* MAGAZINES FROM MOROCCO AND TUNISIA
The latest issues of two magazines published by the European Commission Delegations in Rabat and Tunis have been released recently. The 4th Quarter issue of ‘Union européenne’, the magazine published by the Tunis Delegation, highlights rural development projects and research co-operation in Tunisia, as well as a cultural event called ‘Directions of Trade’, which is being held in Tunis from 18 to 20 December. Issue No 175/175 of the Rabat Delegation’s ‘Lettre d’Info’ displays various aspects of EU-Morocco financial co-operation.

NOTICE
This is the last issue of the Euromed Synopsis in 2003. Euromedinfo extend all Euromed Publications recipients their best wishes for 2004. The next issue of the Euromed Synopsis will be published on 8 January 2004.


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