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* The EU Council of Ministers on 21 April adopted a Decision approving the EU-Egypt Association Agreement. The final procedures for the ratification by the European side have been completed and the Agreement will enter into force on 1 June 2004. The EU Council notified completion of the ratification process to the Egyptian Embassy in Brussels on 26 April.

* The European Commission on 23 April announced it was providing € 34.5 million of MEDA funds for Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria and Tunisia. The new funding, which complements the National Financing Plans for 2002, will support the Rehabilitation Programme for the areas affected by terrorism in Algeria, and the implementation of the TEMPUS Programme of higher education in Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia. Algeria’s Rehabilitation Programme will receive € 14 million for the re-establishement in their place of origin of people moved because of terrorism in the North-West of the country. The participation of seven Mediterranean countries in TEMPUS will help develop co-operation between their universities and the EU’s with MEDA funding worth € 20.5 million http://europa.eu.int/comm/europeaid/projects/med/index_en.htm


* Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi visited Brussels on 27 April. He had talks with European Commission President Romano Prodi, followed by a meeting with the whole Commission. Both meetings took place in a very positive atmosphere and were opportunities to explain the workings of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership to the Libyan leader at the highest level. Colonel Gaddafi expressed a keen interest in joining the Barcelona Process and normalising relations with the EU. Outstanding issues with Germany and Bulgaria were mentioned. During a press conference held after the meetings, Colonel Gaddafi underlined his country’s commitment to peace.

* A Mid-Term Meeting of Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers will take place on 5 and 6 May in Dublin. This will be the first Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting involving the 10 new EU Member States, including former Mediterranean Partners Cyprus and Malta, as full members of the Partnership on the EU side. EU High Representative Javier Solana and European External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten will also take part. The meeting will start with a working dinner on 5 May. Two Troika Meetings will take place on the following day, one with Arab States, the other with Israel, before the Ministerial Plenary Session. Ministers will review the state of play of the Barcelona Process and discuss prospects for future relations, including the European Neighbourhood Policy. Euro-Mediterranean partners will also seek agreement on the outstanding issues regarding the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures. The EU is expected to re-affirm its commitment to the Barcelona Process and the Neighbourhood Policy as the framework for the implementation in the region of the Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East, due to be approved by the June European Council. The situation in the Middle East and Iraq will also be discussed. The Mid-Term Meeting will be preceded by preparatory meetings of Senior Officials responsible for Political and Security Issues, and the Euro-Mediterranean Committee of the Barcelona Process.

* The EU Council of Ministers on 26 April discussed the Gaza disengagement proposals ahead of the upcoming Ministerial Quartet meeting. After its discussion, the Council adopted the statement made by the Presidency which was approved by the Foreign Ministers at their informal meeting on 16 April in Tullamore, Ireland. (see Euromed Synopsis No 268) The full text will be published as a Euromed Report on 30 April.

* The 4th EU-Morocco Association Council was held on 26 April in Luxembourg. The Council discussed the implementation of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement, the Barcelona Process, and the European Neighbourhood Policy. Political Dialogue on subjects of common interest covered the fight against terrorism, the situation in the Middle East, Iraq, the EU Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean and Middle East, and non-proliferation.

* A Conference on ‘Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures: Participants in Dialogue’ will be held on 24 and 25 May in Brussels on the European Commission’s initiative. Civil society representatives, including academics, will discuss Mediterranean Networks, the Role of Women and Civil Society, Citizenship and Social Change in Europe, the Role of the Media in Dialogue, Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue and International Challenges, and Youth and Religion. The registration deadline is 10 May. Requests for information and papers for the conference (5-10 page) can be sent by 5 May to Belen.Bernaldo-De-Quiros@cec.eu.int . For logistical information: dialogue@teamwork.fr


The Algerian National Research and Education Network is now connected to the GEANT pan-European research network by a new circuit between Algiers and Madrid, which has been installed within the MEDA funded EUMEDCONNECT Project, part of the EUMEDIS Regional Programme. The announcement was made on 27 April by DANTE (Delivery of Advanced Network Technology to Europe), the organisation owned by European National Research and Education Networks, and entrusted with co-ordinating EUMEDCONNECT. The new link between Algeria and Spain opens up major new opportunities for researchers in Algeria, enabling them to participate in virtual international research. The contract for the link was awarded to Telefonica following a public tender. It will be followed shortly by more circuits, benefiting other Mediterranean Partners by connecting them to one another and to GEANT. The new circuits add to existing ones connecting the National Research and Education Networks of Cyprus, Israel, Malta and Turkey to GEANT through these countries’ direct involvement in the pan-European research project. Detailed information about EUMEDCONNECT can be found at http://www.dante.net/server/show/nav.008.

MEDA funded Euro-Mediterranean Cultural Co-operation involving 11 projects and 400 partners within the Euromed Heritage II Regional Programme is now on display on the web. Projects in fields as diverse as architecture, music, arts and crafts, and ancient artefacts are featured on the new website, which helps communication among Euromed Heritage partners (universities, museums, various public bodies, and NGOs) and between those and the general public. Euromed Heritage II has been awarded € 30 million for a 3 year period. The web site is managed by Italy’s Central Institute for Cataloguing and Documentation (ICCD) in Rome, which has been entrusted with the co-ordination of Euromed Heritage II. http://www.euromedheritage.net

A Training Seminar for Trainers on Competition will take place from 3 to 7 May in Vienna within the MEDA funded Euro-Med Market Regional Programme. It will be the 8th and last in a series of seminars held within the second phase of the programme with the aim of enabling each Mediterranean Partner to prepare Training Programmes in all relevant areas. Presentations and case studies will cover the main aspects of EU Competition Policy, as well as Consumer Protection issues. Sessions on Training Methodologies in Competition Rules will help Mediterranean Partners plan their own training programmes. On the last day a brief presentation will be made by each Partner of its Draft Training Programme. The Seminar also includes a visit to Austria’s Competition Authority and a session on its Dutch counterpart. Participants will be officials, other practitioners and trainers in charge of competition issues 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

All documents produced within the MEDA funded ‘Reform of the Legal and Institutional Energy Sector Framework’ Project are now available from the web site of DECON (Deutsche Energie-Consult), the German company in charge of co-ordinating the project. This includes reports presented at the recent regional conference held in Istanbul. The project aims at assisting governments in the Mediterranean Partners, particularly Ministries responsible for energy, in carrying out appropriate reforms and modernising their legal, institutional and regulatory frameworks. http://www.decon.de/MEDA .

The 1st meeting of the consolidation phase (2003-2006) of the MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean Information System on the know-how in the water sector (EMWIS) will be held on 4 May in Malta. Representatives of the Euro-Mediterranean partners’ Water Directorates will specify the work programme priorities and will review the rules for participation of Euro-Mediterranean Partners in the Steering Committee. For further information: http://www.emwis.org


A total of € 45 million has been allocated as EU humanitarian aid to the MEDA region last year, according to the Annual Review 2003 of the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO), published on 28 April. The bulk of this amount went to victims of the Middle East conflict, mainly in the Palestinian Territories. Another € 5 million supported the Sahrawi refugees living in the Tindouf area of Algeria. In addition, people affected by the May earthquake in Algeria received emergency aid worth € 2 million. The full report is on line at
http://europa.eu.int/comm/echo/information/publications/annual_reviews_en.htm .

Brussels,05 04 2004
European Union
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