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DECISIONS

* The trade and trade-related provisions of the EU-Egypt Association Agreement signed in 2001 have been in force since 1 January 2004 by virtue of an ‘Interim Agreement’ between the two sides, which was approved by the EU Council of Ministers on 19 December 2003. The provisional implementation of the trade and trade-related provisions takes place in the form of an exchange of letters between the EU and the Egyptian government. It is applicable pending the completion of ratification of the Association Agreement by EU Member States. The text has been published in Official Journal No L 345. htpp://europa.eu.int/eur-lex/en/archive/2003 .

* Two Agreements with Mediterranean Partners on agricultural trade liberalisation, one with Israel and the other with Morocco have entered into force on 1 January 2004 after being approved by the EU Council of Ministers on 22 December, and by the relevant Israeli and Moroccan authorities. Both Agreements take the form of an exchange of letters between the EU and the respective national governments. They replace the Protocols to the respective Association Agreements with the EU regarding reciprocal agricultural trade. As a result of the new EU-Israel Agreement, most of the agricultural trade in both directions is to be liberalised, covering a wide range of products, from meat and oil to vegetables and wine. The Agreement with Morocco also provides for liberalisation of reciprocal agricultural trade across a wide spectrum, including fruit, vegetables, meat and flowers, and opening in particular new opportunities for Moroccan exports of tomatoes to the EU. The provisions on tomato quotas have been in force since 1 October 2003 as an exception to take into account the start of the marketing year for tomatoes and to avoid market disturbance.

* The EU Council of Ministers on 22 December approved the EU-Morocco and EU-Tunisia Scientific and Technological Co-operation Agreements. The agreements will facilitate participation by the two Maghreb countries in the activities of the sixth EU Research and Development Framework Programme (2003-2006). Both Agreements were ratified by the European Parliament last December. They will enter into force when ratification by the Moroccan and Tunisian Parliaments (respectively) is completed. More on the sixth Framework Programme at
http://europa.eu.int/comm/research/fp6/index_en.html

* The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently announced it was granting loans to Egypt, Jordan, and Tunisia for a total amount of € 373 million under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership. The loan to Egypt (€ 302 million) will help start building work for a liquefied natural gas plant at Idku, some 40 km east of Alexandria. The loan to Jordan (€ 26 million) is provided for the construction of the first phase of the Amman ring road. The loan to Tunisia (€ 45 million) will finance the westward extension of the Greater Tunis light metro network. http://www.eib.org

* The EU Council of Ministers on 22 December decided to establish an EU action programme to support organisations promoting reciprocal understanding of relations between the EU and various regions of the world, including the Mediterranean area. Total funding earmarked for 2004-2006 worldwide is € 4.1 million.

MEETINGS

* European Commission President Romano Prodi was called on the telephone by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on 30 December. During the conversation, the Commission President renewed his invitation to Libya to join the Barcelona Process. “It is time”, Mr Prodi said, “for Libya to enter through the main door and to contribute to the Euro-Med dialogue and to be part of the EU’s ring of friends”. Colonel Gaddafi declared himself ready to consider joining the Barcelona Process, and expressed his firm intention to mark this new era by contacts with the EU at top level. President Prodi expressed his willingness to receive Colonel Gaddafi in Brussels as early as possible. More on http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/libyia/intro

* An international conference will be held from 17 to 19 January in Paris under the title ‘The Clash of Civilisations will not take place’, with support from the European Commission. The Conference is organised by France’s Euro-Mediterranean Forum for Science, Development and Peace under the patronage of French President Jacques Chirac, UNESCO, and a number of international personalities including European Commission President Romano Prodi. http://www.euromedarea.org

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* WORKSHOP CALLS FOR NATIONAL ACTION PLANS ON PUBLIC PROCUREMENT
Participants in a workshop on Public Procurement held from 15 to 17 December in Nicosia, Cyprus within the MEDA funded Euro-Med Market Regional Programme agreed on the need for each Mediterranean Partner to put in place an Action Plan on Public Procurement. National Action Plans will be based on an assessment of available resources, reinforced harmonisation of Partners’ legislation with EU rules, the strengthening of relevant institutions in order to apply a proper public procurement policy, and the development of training programmes for officials in charge of public procurement. Draft Action Plans should be submitted as soon as possible to be implemented in the course of the 2nd phase of Euro-Med Market. The workshop was the third and last in a series of meetings aimed at deepening knowledge of some of the subjects addressed during the 1st phase of the programme to further develop co-operation. Participants were senior representatives of Ministries, as well as 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. http://www.euromedmarket.org

* FIRST NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF MOROCCAN TRADE ORGANISATIONS
The first National Conference of Moroccan Trade Organisations took place on 19 December in Casablanca in the presence of Morocco’s Prime Minister Driss Jettou and the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Rabat, Sean Doyle, under the MEDA funded Support Programme to Trade Organisations in Morocco. The Programme is managed by Morocco’s General Business Confederation. The Conference aimed primarily at outlining the results of a study of private associations in Morocco that includes an inventory of trade organisations, an analysis of the national legal environment, and proposals for an Action Plan geared to strengthening business associations. It is envisaged in particular to set up a web-based network of Moroccan Trade Organisations. The Conference also provided a forum for business and trade organisation representatives to meet.

* GENERAL MEETING OF UNIMED CULTURAL HERITAGE II
The second General Meeting for the MEDA funded Unimed Cultural Heritage II Project was held on 21 and 22 December in Cairo to assess progress made and look at plans for 2004. The Meeting included a conference on ‘Preservation and Risk Mitigation of Euro-Mediterranean Cultural heritage: towards a common Repository of Digital Virtual Models’. THe project is part of the Euromed Heritage II Regional Programme, and aims at creating a web site and data bases on cultural heritage preservation. Unimed Cultural heritage II is co-ordinated by the Rome-based Union of Mediterranean Universities. It involves partners in Algeria, Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, the Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, Turkey, and Spain. http://www.unimed-culturalheritage.org

* FEMISE CALL FOR PROPOSALS
A third Call for Proposals has been launched recently by the MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Economic Institutes (FEMISE). Institutions in the Euro-Mediterranean region are invited to submit research proposals falling under one of the six FEMISE study areas, including Agriculture, the Association Agreements, Poverty, the Role of the State, the Role of Women, and South/South Integration. The deadline for submitting applications is 30 January. http://www.femise.org

PUBLICATIONS

* REPORT ON LIBERALISATION IN AGRICULTURE AVAILABLE ON LINE
A report on “The Impact of agricultural liberalisation in the context of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership” has been issued recently by the MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Economic Institutes (FEMISE). It can be downloaded from the Forum’s web site: http://www.femise.org

* NEW WEB SITE FOR ARTS AND CRAFTS PROJECT
Details of activities carried out within the MEDA funded PRODECOM Project of support to arts and crafts are now to be found on the project’s recently launched web site. PRODECOM, part of the Euromed Heritage II Regional Programme, is co-ordinated by the Paris-based Chamber of Mediterranean Fine Arts. Crucial to the project is a quality label called ‘Cultural Products for Development’ and based on the principles of fair trade and sustainable development. The web site, currently in French, will soon be completed by Arabic, English, Greek, and Turkish versions. http://www.chbeauxarts-prodecom.org

Brussels,01 12 2004
European Union Redaction
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