The European Commission on 13 May announced it was allocating € 28 million in humanitarian aid to support more than one million vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. Assistance will also be provided to some 1,500 refugees from Iraq living in camps in Jordan. Activities will include the provision of food, water, sanitation services, emergency healthcare, psycho-social support, job opportunities, and protection for ambulances. The funds are directed through the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) to United Nations agencies, the Red Cross, and various NGOs. This latest decision brings the European Commission’s humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians since September 2000 to € 147 million. More at http://europa.eu.int/news_index.en.htm .
The European Commission on 12 May adopted a ‘Strategy Paper’ on European Neighbourhood Policy, proposing how the benefits of EU enlargement, i.e. peace, stability and prosperity, can be extended to the neighbours of the enlarged Union, including in the Mediterranean region. The Commission also adopted reports assessing the situation in a number of countries and territories concerned, among them five Mediterranean Partners (Israel, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, and Tunisia). In the Mediterranean region, the Neighbourhood Policy applies to all Partners except Turkey, which is pursuing its relations with the EU in a pre-accession framework. The EU Council is now invited to draw up conclusions, which would enable the Commission to complete explanatory talks with the Partners concerned and to present draft Action Plans defining the way ahead over the next three to five years. The Action Plans will be tailor-made to reflect the situation and needs of each Partner. They will cover areas such as Political Dialogue, the Internal Market, Education, Infrastructure, Trade, and Justice. The present MEDA Programme will be complemented by a new financial instrument from 2007, the European Neighbourhood Instrument. More at http://europa.eu.int/news_index.en.htm and http://europa.eu.int/comm/world/enp/index_en.htm
* Morocco’s Prime Minister Driss Jettou was received by European Commission President Romano Prodi on 7 May in Brussels. The President and the Prime Minister reviewed the state of bilateral relations and looked at the next steps to be taken to bring Morocco closer to the EU. They showed themselves confident that the now excellent EU-Morocco relations could be strengthened further under the new European Neighbourhood Policy, which Mr Prodi insisted goes beyond the Association Agreements. The Moroccan Prime Minister stated that his country’s policies on democracy, human rights, and individual freedoms enabled it to enter a new phase in relations with the EU. Mr Jettou also underlined that Morocco was well-prepared for benefiting from the Neighbourhood Policy as a result of modernisation of the economy and appropriate use of MEDA funds. President Prodi stressed the significance of Morocco’s political and socio-economic reforms, and said the aim of relations with the EU was political and economic interdependence within a strategic partnership.
* European Commission Vice-President in charge of Energy and Transport Loyola de Palacio will visit Lebanon and Syria from 13 to 16 May to meet the highest authorities in those countries concerning the development of the region’s oil, gas, electricity and transport sectors. Meetings with government members in Beirut on 13 and 14 May will concern Lebanon’s integration in the regional oil and gas market and the Mediterranean electricity ring, and the liberalisation of the Lebanese electricity market. Meetings with senior representatives of Lebanon’s air transport sector will cover the upcoming negotiations on an EU-Lebanon ‘open skies’ agreement. Meetings with members of the Government in Damascus on 16 May will concern Syria’s integration in the regional petroleum market and in the Mediterranean electricity ring. The discussions will also cover Maritime Transport Safety, and Air Transport. More at http://europa.eu.int/news_index.en.htm
* The Euro-Mediterranean Working Group on Trade Facilitation is meeting on 13 May in Brussels. The state of play of progress since the previous meeting on legislation and procedures, administrative co-operation, and relations with economic operators is being discussed. Then each Mediterranean Partner makes a presentation on the actions taken to implement the recommendations adopted by Euro-Mediterranean Trade Ministers in Palermo in July 2003. Fields covered by the recommendations include Approximation of legislation, Simplified procedures, Use of modern customs techniques, and Contact Points for economic operators.
* A Conference on ‘Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures: Actors in the Dialogue’ will take place on 24 and 25 May in Brussels on the European Commission’s initiative. Civil society representatives, including academics, will discuss the Networks of the Mediterranean, the Contribution of Women and Civil Society, Citizenship and Social Change in Europe, the Role of the Media in the Dialogue, Euro-Mediterranean Dialogue and International Challenges, and Youth and the Religious Factor. The Introductory Address will be delivered by European Commissioner for Education and Culture Viviane Reding, and the Closing Speech will be made by European Commission President Romano Prodi.
* A UK/Morocco Euro-Mediterranean Conference entitled “Managing the Social Consequences of Economic Reform in Mediterranean Partner Countries” will be held at expert level on 20-21 May in Marrakesh. The aims of the conference are to examine how different groups of society are affected by economic reform, and to look at strategies for managing its social consequences. Subjects to be addressed include the objectives of economic reform, the winners and losers, industry restructuring, the role of the EU in managing social consequences, and Euro-Mediterranean dialogue on economic reform. For further information: Peter.Bainbridge@fco.gov.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* EUROMED AUDIOVISUAL IN CANNES
The MEDA funded Euromed Audiovisual Regional Programme will once again be present in Cannes at the International Film Market from 14 to 21 May, and at the famous Film Festival which runs from 15 to 23 May. Euromed Audiovisual will have a stand within the European Commission’s MEDIA pavillion at the Film Market. This will allow for technical assistance to be provided to partners in Euromed Audiovisual I projects, and enable Commission representatives to outline Euromed Audiovisual II to officials and other representatives of EU Member States and Mediterranean Partners, as well as Euro-Mediterranean cinema and TV professionals. Commission representatives will also attend the General Meeting of the Europa Cinema project, part of Euromed Audiovisual I on 15 May. In addition, one of the documentaries produced within another Audiovisual I project (‘Elles Pionnières’) will be screened as part of the ‘Quinzaine des Réalisateurs’ (Directors’ Fortnight).
* REGIONAL SEMINARS ON INVESTMENT IN ALGIERS
Two Seminars on Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will be held shortly in Algiers within the MEDA funded ANIMA Regional Programme, which aims at stimulating investment in the Mediterranean Partners through a Euro-Mediterranean network of Investment Promotion Agencies. One of them will be a Regional Workshop on Investor Servicing and Aftercare, which will take place on 15 and 16 May in co-operation with WAIPA (World Association of Investment Promotion Agencies) and UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development). The Workshop will aim at presenting the ‘aftercare’ concept and best practices, and helping representatives of Investment Promotion Agencies to design their own Aftercare Programmes. The second seminar, an ANIMA Regional Seminar, will be held from 17 to 19 May and focus on how to attract foreign investment to Algeria, using the ‘Home Sweet Home’ concept of bringing successful expatriate entrepreneurs back home to invest. This will be an opportunity to introduce the MEDA-Entrepreneurs project to the Algerian authorities and to propose launching a pilot project in Algeria. MEDA-Entrepreneurs has been designed along the lines of the ‘Home Sweet Home’ initiative run by the Investment Promotion Agency in Greater Marseilles. Participants in the Seminars will be representatives of Investment Promotion Agencies from Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia. http://www.animaweb.org
* MED PARTNERS PREPARE TRAINING PROGRAMMES ON COMPETITION
Draft Training Programmes on Competition will be drawn up by Mediterranean Partners by early June as a follow-up to the Training Seminar for trainers on the same subject, which was held from 3 to 7 May in Vienna within the MEDA funded Euromed Market Regional Programme. The Seminar was the last 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 Competition and should be followed by specific bilateral and/or intra-regional activities. http://www.euromedmarket.org
* MEDA SUPPORT FOR EGYPT IN 2005-2006 SIGNED
A Memorandum of Understanding on Egypt’s National Indicative Programme (NIP) 2005-2006 was signed on 9 May in Cairo by the country’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Fayza Abu El Naga, and the European Commission Director for Relations with the Middle East and South Mediterranean, Christian Leffler. The NIP involves total MEDA funding worth € 243 million, covering support to the Association Agreement in the perspective of the new Neighbourhood Policy; support to reform in the water sector and in the field of knowledge society (research and innovation, Tempus) and support to the social and health sectors, as well as to the development of good governance, human rights and democratisation.
* EU CONTRIBUTION TO UNRWA FOR 2004
The European Commission will this year contribute over € 60.6 million under MEDA towards the costs of education and health programmes, and relief and social services programmes managed by UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees in the Near East. An Agreement on the contribution was signed on 13 May at the European Commission Representation in Jerusalem by UNRWA’s Deputy Commissioner General Karen Koning Abu Zayed and the Head of the European Commission Representation in Jerusalem, Jean-Joseph Bretéché. An advance of 95% of this year’s contribution will be paid out shortly. Yearly European Commission contributions are determined by the 11th European Commission-UNRWA Agreement for 2002-2005.
* EU ENLARGEMENT SEEN FROM JORDAN AND SYRIA
The latest issues of the newsletters published by the European Commission Delegations in Jordan and Syria are mainly devoted to the recent EU Enlargement. Both publications feature portraits of the new EU Member States. The Damascus newsletter looks at the impact on Syria, and the Amman newsletter presents the enlarged European Commission.
http://www.deljor.cec.eu.int and http://www.delsyr.cec.eu.int
Brussels,05 17 2004