* An amount of € 975,000 will be channelled through the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) for emergency aid to the victims of the earthquake in northern Morocco, as indicated by the Commission on 26 February. The funds will be used to help meet initial basic needs for medical assistance, drinking water, household utensils, hygiene products and shelter. The support is a boost from the € 500,000 initially provided on 25 February under ECHO’s ‘primary emergency procedure’, which allows NGOs to begin delivering the aid almost immediately. More on http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm
* The European Commission on 23 February announced it had released € 28 million of risk capital for 8 Mediterranean Partners (Algeria; Egypt; Jordan; Lebanon; Morocco; the Palestinian Territories; Syria; and Tunisia) under the MEDA funded Risk Capital Facility. This is the third and last instalment of a € 100 million package agreed in 2001. The funds will support improving the competitiveness of local, particularly outward-oriented businesses, financial sector restructuring, and privatisation. The Risk Capital Facility is administered by the European Investment Bank (EIB) within the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). http://www.eib.org
* The EU Council of Ministers on 19 February adopted a Regulation establishing a programme for financial and technical assistance to countries outside the European Union in the area of migration and asylum. The programme, called AENEAS, is designed to provide a specific, additional response to the needs of countries around the world, including Mediterranean Partners, in their efforts to manage more effectively all aspects of migratory flows. AENEAS follows up from the preparatory actions carried out between 2001 and 2003. It will cover the period 2004 to 2008 with a financial framework set at € 250 million world wide, of which € 120 million for the period until 1 December 2006. Five major action areas have been identified: developing immigration policies in the countries concerned, promoting legal migration channels, international protection, combating illegal immigration, including trafficking in human beings, and readmission and sustainable reintegration of returnees in their countries of origin. Regional and sub-regional projects will be considered. http://ue.eu.int and http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm
* The Agreement on a Mediterranean Arab Free Trade Area between Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, known as the ‘Agadir Agreement’, was signed on 25 February in Agadir by the Foreign Ministers of the four countries involved (Ahmed Maher; Marwan Muasher; Mohamed Benaissa; and Habib Ben Yahia respectively). The ceremony was attended by European External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten, whose speech delivered on the occasion is on line at http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm . The agreement will create an integrated market of more than 100 million people in the four participating countries, which have all signed an Association Agreement with the EU. It is a crucial step towards the envisaged creation of a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. This initiative for sub-regional integration has received political support from the EU ever since the Agadir Declaration was signed in May 2001, and a MEDA funded assistance programme of € 4 million will be provided.
* The EU Council of Ministers meeting on 23 February discussed the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Middle East Peace Process, among other subjects. On the Wider Europe/New Neighbourhood Policy the Council noted the progress made by the European Commission in preparing proposals for the first draft Action Plans that will be submitted to the Council by June. On the Middle East, Ministers reviewed the latest developments and discussed ways to revive the peace process. It was also recalled that the Barcelona Process was the cornerstone of the EU’s relations with the region. More on http://ue.eu.int
* The 3rd meeting of the EU-Lebanon Co-operation Council took place on 24 February in Brussels. The Lebanese Delegation was led by Minister of Economy and Trade Marwan Hamadeh, and the plenary meeting was chaired by Irish Minister of State responsible for European Affairs, Dick Roche. Discussions touched on the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement, EU Enlargement, implementation of the Interim Agreement, and Lebanon’s economic situation. Mr Hamadeh said his government supported Lebanon’s involvement in the European Neighbourhood Policy. The Co-operation Council was preceded by a Political Dialogue Meeting chaired by Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen. Subjects discussed included the situation in Lebanon, the Middle East Peace Process, and Iraq.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* WATER LOCAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME GETS UNDER WAY
The MEDA funded Regional Programme for Local Water Management is under way. Following the Call for Proposals in the Water Management sector, a total of nine contracts have been signed with universities, research institutes and specialised agencies. The major areas covered are Water Recycling, Application of Water Planning, including desalination technologies, to Practical Supply Problems in towns and villages, and Transfer of Knowledge in the sector of Integrated Water Resources Management. Most projects will be implemented over four years with MEDA funding amounting to € 32.6 million overall. A Regional Management and Support Unit is expected soon to be approved by the European Commission to assist the programme, promote publicity for the actions and research, and liaise with Water Facilitators in EU Member States and Mediterranean Partners. During 2004, it is expected that Water Facilitators will be fully established in all Mediterranean Partners. These senior officials will promote integration of water information in their own countries and co-operate with the organisations in the consortia responsible for the water projects under the Call for Proposals.
* FINAL MEETING FOR THERMAL SOLAR ENERGY PROJECT
The final meeting for the MEDA funded regional project ‘Applications of Thermal Solar Energy in the Mediterranean Basin’, whose main objective is to transfer the Solar Results Guarantee Concept to the Mediterranean Partners, will take place on 2 March in Paris. The phases and results of the project will be outlined by representatives of project co-ordinator ADEME (France’s Agency for Energy Saving and Renewable Sources). Presentations will then be made of national plans for thermal solar development prepared by energy agencies in the 7 Mediterranean Partners involved in the project (Algeria; Egypt; Jordan; Lebanon; Morocco; Palestinian Territories; and Tunisia). This will be followed by debates on the economic, financial and energy aspects of the thermal solar technology, the role of donors, and funding mechanisms. Participants will be senior officials from the Mediterranean Partners and representatives of the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the World Bank. The Solar Results Guarantee Concept, successfully applied in the EU, means that the technical and economic performance of a solar boiler is guaranteed by contract, which entitles users to claim damages if expectations are not met. Pilot installations have so far been set up in all participating Mediterranean Partners except the Palestinian Territories. Details of the project are now available on line at http://www.solarmed.net
* WELCOME TO THE 4TH EUROMED AUDIOVISUAL CONFERENCE
The 4th Annual Conference for the MEDA funded Euromed Audiovisual Regional Programme will be held on 2 and 3 April in Marseilles, France. An assessment of the Programme’s 3rd year of implementation will be made, and co-ordination meetings for each of Euromed Audiovisual’s six projects will take place. The event will bring together producers, film directors, cinema owners, TV channel managers from both shores of the Mediterranean, as well as government representatives. Conference debates will be open to a limited number of other professionals interested in Euro-Mediterranean co-operation and audio-visual policies. Requests have to be placed with Ms Marie-Catherine Lecocq, phone +33 4 91 14 45 18, fax +33 4 91 14 45 01 or Ms Dominique Brunet, phone +33 4 91 14 45 04. Web site: http://www.euromediterranee.fr
* INVESTMENT IN MED REGION ON ANIMA WEB SITE
Detailed information on the MEDA funded ANIMA Regional Programme is now on line at http://www.animaweb.org . The ANIMA Programme aims at stimulating investment in the Mediterranean Partners through a Euro-Mediterranean network of Investment Promotion Agencies. The web site provides links to national agencies.
Brussels,03 01 2004