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Euromed News

DECISIONS

The European Commission on 9 January announced it was providing € 5.14 million in humanitarian assistance to Sahrawi refugees in Algeria. The funds, managed by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), will be used to supply basic foodstuffs, medicines, training, and shelter for the refugee population in the Tindouf region. The aid will be implemented by humanitarian agencies on the ground. Some 155,000 people live in tents in refugee camps where they are almost entirely dependent on humanitarian aid.

* In a communiqué issued on 12 January by the European Commission, President Romano Prodi said: “The agreement reached between the Gaddafi Foundation and the representatives of the families of the victims of flight UT772 is good news for everyone. … This confirms that 2004 can mark a decisive turning point in the relations between Europe and Libya”. “The President is confident”, the Commission stated, “that the other pending problems can now be solved and that the way can be opened to allow Libya to take its full place in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The Commission will continue to work to make it possible”.
http://europa.eu.int/comm/commissioners/prodi/index_en.htm

* A new ‘Mediterranean Institute for Childhood’ or ‘MedChild Foundation’ was presented at an International Conference entitled ‘Children and the Mediterranean’ that took place from 7 to 9 January in Genoa, Italy under the patronage of the President of the Italian Republic, the European Commission, and the Presidency of the Italian Council of Ministers. The MedChild Institute was founded by the Gerolamo Gaslini Foundation, the conference organisers, and the main political and economic institutions of Genoa and the Italian region of Liguria. A speech on EU policies for children in the Mediterranean was delivered on the occasion by European Commission President Romano Prodi. The text is on the web in English and Italian at
http://europa.eu.int/comm/commissioners/prodi/index_en.htm

* A European Investment Bank (EIB) Conference on ‘Business Development as an essential feature of Morocco’s Economy’ will take place on 16 January in Casablanca under the high patronage of HM King Mohammed VI. It will be the first in a series of conferences to be held in the Mediterranean Partners to promote private sector development there with support from the EIB’s Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership. The Casablanca Conference is organised in co-operation with Morocco’s General Business Confederation (CGEM). It will be opened by Morocco’s Minister for Finance and Privatisation Fathallah Oualalou, and EIB Vice-President in charge of FEMIP, Philippe de Fontaine Vive. Two Round Tables will be held, one on ‘Facilitating Private Investment’, and the other on ‘Banking and Financial Tools’. Speakers will include Moroccan Minister in charge of Economic Affairs and Upgrading Abderrazak El-Mossadeq, and European Commission Head of Delegation in Rabat, Sean Doyle. Senior representatives of government, business and banking are expected to attend. http://www.eib.org

* An International Conference on ‘Private Sector Development in the Mediterranean Partner Countries: The Role of the European Investment Bank (EIB)’ will be held on 22 January in London as one of the EIB’s initiatives to promote investment in the Mediterranean region. The Conference is organised by the EIB and the Middle East Association in co-operation with UK Trade & Investment. It will be opened by a Group Director with UK Trade & Investment, David Warren, and EIB Vice-President in charge of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership, Philippe de Fontaine Vive. Two Round Tables will take place, one on SMEs and Private Sector Development, the other on Promoting Foreign Direct Investment. Speakers will be senior representatives of business, banking, and government, including the European Commission and the EIB. http://www.eib.org

* Senior Officials of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership responsible for Political and Security Issues will meet on 21 January in Brussels and the Euro-Mediterranean Committee for the Barcelona Process will meet on 22 January in the same city. The new Irish Presidency of the EU Council will present its programme as regards the Barcelona Process, and the follow-up to the Naples Ministerial Conference held last December will be discussed in both meetings. Another topic for Senior Officials will be the newly created Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly while the Euro-Med Committee will discuss requirements for setting up the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures, including its location and funding.

* The first EU-Egypt Economic Dialogue will take place on 20 January in Cairo at senior officials’ level. The main macro-economic developments in Egypt and the EU will be discussed, including the euro as an international currency. In a session on Trade and Economic Liberalisation the Egyptian authorities will outline their strategy for implementing the Association Agreement, and European Commission representatives will elaborate on the Agreement and Economic Dialogue. Financial markets and capital movements will then be discussed in the light of Egyptian liberalisation and the EU situation. Discussions will also address the impact of EU Enlargement on Egypt, and the Mediterranean Partners at large.

* The European Parliament (EP) Delegation for Relations with the Maghreb Countries and the Arab Maghreb Union met on 14 January in Strasbourg, France. Preparations for a visit to Brussels by a delegation from the General People’s Congress of Libya (Parliament) on 27 January were discussed. In addition, files for the visit of a Delegation working group to Morocco and Mauritania from 19 to 24 January were distributed. The EP Delegation for Relations with the Mashrak countries and the Gulf States met on 15 January, also in Strasbourg. Discussions focused on preparations for a visit to Egypt by a Delegation working party from 14 to 21 February. The EP Delegation for Relations with Israel met on the same day in the same city. Two planned visits were discussed, one by European Parliament President Pat Cox to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on 16 and 17 February, and the other by the EP Delegation itself to Israel from 14 to 18 March. An exchange of views took place on a planned joint meeting of the EP Delegation and the European Jewish Congress on 2 March in Brussels.

* A Conference on the inter-linkages between the three Chapters of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership will take place on 19 January in Paris. The Conference is organised by the French Institute for International Relations (IFRI) in the framework of the MEDA supported EuroMeSCo network of Euro-Mediterranean foreign policy institutes. E-mail: frey@ifri.org

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* MEDA PAYMENTS REACH NEW RECORD OF NEARLY € 500 MILLION IN 2003
Nearly € 500 million (€ 497.7 million) were paid out under the MEDA Programme last year, up from € 454 million in 2002, and € 317.8 million in 2001. Another record figure in 2003 was the disbursement rate or payment/commitment ratio, which reached a new high of 82.9 % as against 74.2 % in 2002, and 53 % in 2001. This shows an acceleration in the implementation of the Programme. The bulk of MEDA funds in 2003 (€ 385.8 million) as in previous years went to bilateral co-operation with eight Mediterranean Partners (Algeria; Egypt; Jordan; Lebanon; Morocco; Syria; Tunisia; West Bank & Gaza Strip). The remainder (€ 112 million) was used mainly for regional programmes and projects involving all 12 Mediterranean Partners, as well as small-scale operations such as studies, information and cultural activities, and technical assistance. A total of € 600 was committed last year under MEDA, roughly the same as in 2002 and 2001. The aid is managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office.

* FIRST EURO-MED MARKET TRAINING SEMINAR FOR TRAINERS ON RULES OF ORIGIN
‘Rules of Origin: Extending pan-European cumulation of origin to the Mediterranean Partners’ will be the subject of the first in a series of eight training seminars for trainers held within the second phase of the MEDA funded Euro-Med Market Regional Programme. Training is crucial to the proper functioning of the pan-Euro-Mediterranean system adopted by Trade Ministers last July as it entails implementing identical rules of origin. The first seminar for trainers will take place from 19 to 23 January in Brussels. It will aim at making it easier for each Mediterranean Partner to draft a national training programme and to implement pan-Euro-Mediterranean cumulation of origin in future. The seminar is also designed to further bilateral and multilateral administrative co-operation, and to encourage exchange of experience, knowledge and best practice. Participants will be officials and other practitioners in charge of implementing rules of origin in the various Partners. They will have to become focal points for future activities, design and develop their country’s training programme, and train their colleagues. Euro-Med Market aims to help Mediterranean Partners prepare themselves for the future Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. http://www.euromedmarket.org

* WATER AND SOIL CONSERVATION IN TUNISIA
Living conditions in rural areas throughout Tunisia have been improved over the last few years by warding off water erosion through small-scale irrigation operations supported by the EU under the € 20 million Water and Soil Conservation Project. The 8-year project has provided for the construction of 108 hill lakes and 114 aquifer-refilling installations. It was closed recently, as the European Commission Delegation in Tunis announced on 14 January, but EU support to Tunisia’s water and soil conservation policy is being sustained under three other projects totalling € 69.5 million.

* TRAINING OF JOURNALISTS IN CAIRO
A training course for enhancing computer skills for 40 Egyptian journalists has taken place at the premises of the Al-Ahram newspaper in Cairo in the framework of the local information activities carried out by the European Commission Delegation in Egypt. The course started on 13 December 2003, and a closing ceremony will be held on 17 January.

PUBLICATIONS

* FEMISE ANNUAL REPORT 2003 NOW AVAILABLE IN ENGLISH
The English version for the latest Annual Report by the MEDA supported Forum of Euro-Mediterranean Economic Institutes (FEMISE) can be downloaded from the Forum web site http://www.femise.org . The French edition was published in late 2003.

Brussels,01 19 2004
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