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Euromed News

DECISIONS

The European Investment Bank (EIB) on 16 February announced it was granting the first financing under the newly created FEMIP technical assistance fund for the modernisation and expansion of the port of Tartous in Syria. The technical assistance will underpin a € 50 million EIB loan to the Syrian Ministry of Transport. The technical assistance fund was established in July 2003 in the framework of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). http://www.eib.org

INITIATIVES

The European Commission on 17 February announced it had asked the EU Council of Ministers for a mandate to negotiate Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreements with Jordan, Lebanon, and Morocco. The three countries are the first Mediterranean Partners selected by the European Commission for the conclusion of such agreements, which would open the aviation market between the EU and the Partners and also enhance co-operation in such fields as aviation safety, aviation security and environmental protection. The economic and political benefits of closer aviation relations between the EU and its neighbours have been outlined in a European Commission Communication entitled ‘A Community aviation policy towards its neighbours’.

MEETINGS

* The Agreement on a Mediterranean-Arab Free Trade Area bringing together Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia will be signed on 25 February in Agadir at a ceremony that will be chaired by HM King Mohamed VI of Morocco. Foreign Ministers of the four participating countries (Egypt’s Ahmed Maher, Jordan’s Marwan Muasher, Morocco’s Mohamed Benaissa, and Tunisia’s Habib Ben Yahia) will take part. European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten will also attend the ceremony, as well as Arab League President Amr Moussa and Arab Maghreb Union Secretary General Habib Boulares.. This initiative for sub-regional integration has received encouragement from the EU, and an assistance programme of € 4 million will be provided.

* Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei visited EU institutions in Brussels on 18 February. He was accompanied by Finance Minister Salam Fayyad and Chief-Negotiator Saeb Erekat. Mr Qurei was received by European Commission President Romano Prodi and EU High Representative Javier Solana. Information on the Palestinian Ministers’ meeting with Mr Solana on http://ue.eu.int/solana

* The 3rd meeting of the EU-Lebanon Co-operation Council will take place on 24 February in Brussels. This will be the first such meeting since the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement has been signed and the Interim Agreement has entered into force. The Lebanese Delegation will be led by Minister of Economy and Trade Marwan Hamadeh, and the plenary meeting will be chaired by Irish Minister of State responsible for European Affairs, Dick Roche. Discussions will focus on EU-Lebanon relations, the Association Agreement, Lebanon’s economic situation, the Barcelona Process, and the European Neighbourhood Policy. The Council itself will be preceded by a Political Dialogue Meeting on subjects of common interest, which will be chaired by Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen on behalf of the current EU Council Presidency.

* The Experts Committee of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) held its first meeting on 16 and 17 February in Marseilles, France under the chairmanship of European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President in charge of FEMIP, Philippe de Fontaine Vive. On Privatisation in the Mediterranean Partners, the 70 experts emphasised the importance of establishing an appropriate regulatory environment. On Access by private companies to the various sources of finance, the experts called for efforts in three broad areas: reforming the banking sector; improving the transparency of companies’ accounts; and developing new financial products. The conclusions will be submitted to the FEMIP Ministerial Council in June. http://www.eib.org

* A Seminar entitled ‘Europe, against anti-Semitism for a Union of diversity’ is being held on 19 February in Brussels on the initiative of European Commission President Romano Prodi. The Seminar includes a session on Europe-Israel relations and one on Dialogue between Religions. The speech delivered by President Prodi is available from the web site
http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* EURO-MEDITERRANEAN MIGRATION PROJECT LAUNCHED
The MEDA funded co-operation project “on the questions linked to the social integration of immigrants, migration, and movements of persons” will start soon as the contract with the project’s co-ordinator, the Florence-based European University Institute, has been signed recently. The € 2 million project is the 3rd Chapter of the Regional Programme on Good Governance and the Rule of Law. It aims at monitoring, analysing, and forecasting migratory flows in the EU and Mediterranean Partners with a view to helping the Partners in their efforts to develop and implement migration policies. The project involves setting up a Euro-Mediterranean data base on migration, building up regional expertise on migration through targeted teaching activities and applied research, carrying out study work, and disseminating results through publications and a web site.

* MED PARTNERS PREPARE TRAINING PROGRAMMES ON FIGHTING COUNTERFEITING AND PIRACY
Draft Training Programmes on Customs Practices for fighting counterfeiting and piracy will be drawn up by Mediterranean Partners by mid-March as a follow-up to the Training Seminar for trainers on Customs, Taxation and Rules of Origin, which was held from 9 to 13 February in Paris within the MEDA funded Euro-Med Market Regional Programme. The Seminar was the third in a series of eight held within the second phase of Euro-Med Market, which aims to help Mediterranean Partners prepare themselves for the future Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. It represents a first step in the training of trainers in the field of Customs Practices and should be followed by specific bilateral and/or intra-regional activities. http://www.euromedmarket.org

* ANIMA REGIONAL SEMINAR ON HOW TO BRING ENTREPRENEURS BACK HOME
A Regional Seminar on how to bring successful expatriates back home to set up a business or to invest will be held from 23 to 26 February in Istanbul within the MEDA funded ANIMA Regional Programme. It will be the second in a series of three seminars designed to develop projects along the lines of the ‘Home Sweet Home’ initiative run by the Investment Promotion Agency in Greater Marseilles, France. Participants will be decision-makers in Mediterranean Investment Promotion Agencies. The ANIMA Programme aims at stimulating investment in the Mediterranean Partners through a Euro-Mediterranean network of Investment Promotion Agencies. http://www.animaweb.org

* EURO-MED TOWNS AND CITIES MEET TO DISCUSS SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
Representatives of Euro-Mediterranean Towns and Cities, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank (EIB) are meeting on 18 and 19 February in Brussels to discuss decentralised co-operation for sustainable urban development. The meeting is organised by the Brussels-Capital Region, which is involved in one of the two Sustainable Urban Development Projects developed within the MEDA funded MED’ACT Pilot Initiative. Participants in the project include Rome, which ensures project co-ordination, Sfax and Mahdia in Tunisia, and Bosra in Syria. Representatives of other towns and cities (Algiers, Byblos, Cairo, Kairuan, Rabat, Tangiers, Zarka and Marseilles) are also taking part in the Brussels meeting. Debates focus on exchanges of experience, financing and new avenues for co-operation between local authorities. The meeting includes a workshop on waste management.

* EURO-MED MARKET SEMINAR ON PUBLIC PROCUREMENT
A Training Seminar for Trainers on Public Procurement will take place from 24 to 27 February in Athens within the MEDA funded Euro-Med Market Regional Programme. This will be the fourth in a series of eight training seminars held within the second phase of the programme with the aim of enabling each Mediterranean Partner to prepare Training Programmes in as many fields. Presentations will be made of the EU’s legal framework for public procurement and the EU legislation currently in force. Training methodology will then be explained by way of simulation exercises. Participants will be officials or other practitioners with responsibility for public procurement in their respective countries, who should in turn be able to train their colleagues and become contact points for future activities. http://www.euromedmarket.org

* CONFERENCE ON TELE-MEDICINE IN EURO-MED REGION
A Conference entitled ‘Public Health in the Euro-Mediterranean Region’ is taking place on 21 February in Cairo within the MEDA funded EMISPHER Project, part of the EUMEDIS Regional Programme. Sessions will mainly focus on the use of IT and Tele-Medicine. The Conference will be preceded by a two-day meeting of the EMISPHER Consortium in charge of the project.

PUBLICATIONS

* EUMEDIS WEB SITE LAUNCHED
The web site for the MEDA funded EUMEDIS (Euro-Mediterranean Information Society) Regional Programme was launched on 13 February. It provides access to information on the various EUMEDIS pilot projects by country and by sector, and includes the EUMEDIS Newsletter. The web site and the newsletter are available in English, French, and Arabic. http://www.eumedis.net

* EUROMED TRANSPORT PROJECT HAS ITS WEB SITE
The MEDA funded Regional ‘EuroMed Transport Project’ is now on line at http://www.euromedtransport.org . The new website presents the Project’s objectives, activities and actors. It also offers links to a variety of web sites of EU institutions, Mediterranean Partners, and International Organisations active in the field of transport.

MISCELLANEOUS

* STUDENTS PLAY EURO-MED NEGOTIATORS IN CAIRO
Some 300 students from several Egyptian universities will simulate Euro-Mediterranean and EU negotiations from 24 to 28 February at Cairo University within the ‘International Model European Union’ project, which receives support from a number of public and private sponsors, notably the European Commission Delegation in Cairo. Debates will mainly focus on Dialogue between Cultures, Euro-Arab Relations, and the Future of the EU.

Brussels,02 23 2004
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