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Euromed News

MEETINGS

* The EU Council of Ministers meeting on 22 March in Brussels adopted conclusions on a Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The conclusions refer to an Interim Report prepared by the EU Presidency, the EU Council Secretariat, and the European Commission, which is intended as a basis for consultation with the partners in the region. The document sets objectives and principles for co-operation with the Mediterranean Partners as well as other countries in North Africa and the Middle East, with a view to promoting “the development of a common zone of peace, prosperity and progress”. The Interim Report also stresses the need for consultation with all the EU’s partners, and the necessity “to develop a sense of shared ownership” in the region. The Council welcomed this report, which also presents an analysis of the EU’s current engagement with the countries concerned. The strategy should be adopted at the European Council in June. The full text of the Interim Report was sent as Euromed Report No 73 on 23 March. It is available on line at
http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/euromed/publication.htm

* Irelands’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern and Foreign Minister Brian Cowen will attend the next Arab League Summit on 29 March in Tunis as representatives of the current EU Presidency, and EU High Representative Javier Solana will be there as well. Their presence has to be seen in the context of the Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East, on which the EU Council has adopted Conclusions (see above).

* The Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly held its inaugural session on 22 and 23 March in Athens. It adopted its rules of procedure, elected its officers, and issued a formal declaration. The Assembly was attended by representatives of the European Parliament (EP), the Parliaments of most EU Member States, and all Mediterranean Partners, with observers from some acceding countries, as well as Libya, Mauritania, Romania and some Western Balkans countries. Those elected to the Bureau of Presidents were EP President Pat Cox, Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament Fathi Sorour, the President of the Tunisian Chamber of Deputies Fouad Mbazaa, and the Speaker of the Greek Parliament Anna Benaki. They will preside the Assembly for a period of one year each in the following order: Egypt, EP, Tunisia, and Greece. Officers were also elected to the three Assembly Committees. The Assembly will hold its next meeting in Egypt, probably in the first half of 2005.

* The reconstruction of the Lebanese State suffers from significant weaknesses, and international support will have no lasting effect unless reforms agreed are implemented. The warning was issued by the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Lebanon, Patrick Renauld at a recent Seminar on the Future of EU-Lebanon relations in Beirut. Mr Renauld pointed to the country’s serious deficit and debt situation, adding “What’s worse is that the young are leaving”. The Head of Delegation also said Lebanese entrepreneurs should adapt the way they make and market their products, while their efforts have to be supported by an efficient and transparent administration. Mr Renauld outlined the opportunities the EU New Neighbourhood Policy holds for Lebanon, stressing that the EU is not proposing a single model in this respect, but is following a differentiated approach.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* 4TH EUROMED AUDIOVISUAL ANNUAL CONFERENCE WILL ASSESS PROJECTS’ IMPACT
The Annual Conference of the MEDA funded Euromed Regional Audiovisual Programme will take place on 2 and 3 April in Marseilles, France. It will bring together Directors of the Mediterranean Partners’ Film Institutes, co-ordinators and partners of Euromed Audiovisual Projects, producers, cinema managers and distributors from Mediterranean Partners and EU countries. Participants will primarily assess and discuss the results of the six projects making up the Programme (Europa Cinemas; Capmed; Medea; Cinemamed; Elles…pionnières; and Euromediatoon-Viva Carthago). In addition, a number of audio-visual policy issues will be debated, notably the regulatory framework for the circulation of films, including incentives, market access, and the fight against piracy. A ‘mini-market’ for Euro-Mediterranean films will allow for the presentation and screening of films to distributors and sales agents from both sides of the Mediterranean. A co-ordination meeting will be held for each Euromed Audiovisual Project in parallel.

* EUROMED TRANSPORT MEETING POISED TO FINE-TUNE DIAGNOSTIC
The MEDA funded EuroMed Regional Transport Programme will hold its 2nd National Counterpart Team Meeting from 29 to 31 March in Damascus to review and discuss the first draft of the transport sector Diagnostic Study for the MEDA region. The meeting is organised by EuroMed Transport Project-Main Contract as a follow-up to the 1st National Counterpart Team Meeting held last September in Tunis. A team of international experts has since then collected data on transport systems and policies in all Mediterranean Partners. They also identified methods for improving the harmonisation of legislation and removing transport bottlenecks in the region. Their conclusions have been incorporated into the Diagnostic Study, whose main findings will be discussed in Damascus in 3 regional working groups (Mashrak; Maghreb; Cyprus, Malta and Turkey). The conclusions of the working groups will help draw up the final version of the Diagnostic Study, which will underpin further priority actions to be detailed in a future Regional Transport Action Plan. The meeting will bring together the Mediterranean Partners’ National Counterpart Teams, the international experts mentioned above, co-ordinators of two strands of EuroMed Transport (Main Contract and Infrastructure Network Contract), and European Commission representatives. http://www.euromedtransport.org

* TWIN REGIONAL CONFERENCES ON ENERGY SECTOR LIBERALISATION AND PRIVATISATION
Twin Regional Conferences to be held from 28 to 30 March in Istanbul will bring together co-ordinators and participants of two MEDA funded regional projects aiming to promote energy sector reform in the Mediterranean Partners. The ‘Reform of the Legal and Institutional Energy Sector Framework’ Project (co-ordinated by Germany’s DECON company) will hold its Regional Conference on the theme of Energy Sector Reform while the project on the ‘Restructuring of Energy Companies’ (with France’s BCEOM company as co-ordinator) will put the focus of its own Conference on Privatisation of National Energy Supply Companies. Within both projects, thematic workshops and seminars have already taken place, and the Conferences will provide an opportunity to look at results achieved in the sector and issues to be resolved in the last stages of each project. Speakers will be senior officials, academics, energy company executives, and representatives of international donors, notably the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. More on the Restructuring Project at http://www.medarec.actu.com

* EUROMESCO ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN BARCELONA
The Annual Conference of the MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean Network of Foreign Policy Institutes (Euro-Mediterranean Study Commission or EuroMeSCo) will be held on 29 and 30 March in Barcelona, Spain. The general theme to be addressed is ‘The Mediterranean and the New Strategic Scenario’. Sessions will be devoted to ‘The new international scenario’; ‘Enhancing the Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue on Security’; ‘Issues and Areas for Sub-Regional Co-operation’; ‘The Barcelona Process after the EU Enlargement’; and ‘Globalisation and Politics: Misperceptions and Changing Societies’. Speakers will be academics and European Commission representatives. http://www.euromesco.net

* EURO-MED MARKET SEMINAR ON AUDITING AND ACCOUNTING
A Training Seminar for Trainers on Auditing and Accounting will take place from 29 March to 2 April in Rome within the MEDA funded Euro-Med Market Regional Programme. This will be the sixth 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. Participants will be officials and other practitioners with responsibility for auditing and accounting 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

* FORUM OF EURO-MED SOCIAL DIALOGUE SET TO PROPOSE SOCIAL PLATFORM
The closing conference for the MEDA funded ‘Social Dialogue and Social Systems’ Project will take place on 1 and 2 April in Rome under the title of ‘Forum of the Euro-Mediterranean Social Dialogue’. The results of the research-action carried out under the project will be presented, with the aim of reaching common conclusions and discussing and agreeing a proposal to the Partnership’s governments for the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean Social Platform. The research-action addressed four main themes (Fundamental Social Rights; Organisations representing Economic and Social Interests; Industrial Relations and the Role of the State; and Legislation on Workers’ Protection and Promotion). The Social Platform would entail a minimal base of social rights, a Euro-Mediterranean Social Action Plan involving the approximation of social standards and a Euro-Mediterranean Monitoring Centre on collective bargaining and social dialogue, as well as the development of the Euro-Mediterranean Social Dialogue. The Forum is co-organised by Italy’s Economic and Social Council (CNEL) and the Rome-based Mediterranean Institute (IMED) which has co-ordinated the project. Participants will be representatives of Euro-Mediterranean employers and Trade Unions, the European Commission, the European Parliament, as well as academics from both sides of the Mediterranean. The Forum will be opened by CNEL President Pietro Larizza and concluded by the President of the European Economic and Social Committee, Roger Briesch. http://www.imednet.it

* FOOD SECTOR DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME HANDED OVER TO EGYPT
The EU funded Food Sector Development Programme for Egypt was handed over to the country’s Government at a seminar held on 24 March in Cairo in the presence of Egypt’s Agriculture Minister Youssef Wali and the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Cairo, Ian Boag. The European Commission has supported the development of the dairy/livestock sector in Egypt for 13 years with loans amounting to € 98 million, and technical assistance worth € 20 million. The loans benefited more than 40,000 people, and training in a Dairy Training Unit was provided to over 12,000 farmers and managers. The project contributed to the creation of more than 50,000 new permanent jobs.

Brussels,03 29 2004
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