* The European Investment Bank (EIB) on 7 June announced it was lending € 100 million to Egypt and € 65 million to Tunisia. The loan to Egypt is for the construction of a gas pipeline across Jordan (Aqaba to Rehab) to bring Egyptian natural gas to power plants, industries and consumers throughout Jordan. The loan to Tunisia is for road schemes improving urban infrastructure in the Greater Tunis area, and in the cities of Monastir, Sfax and Sousse. The agreements for both operations were signed on 7 June in Cairo on the occasion of the FEMIP Ministerial Meeting (see below). More on http://www.eib.org
* The European Commission on 3 June announced it had decided to increase the budget for the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) in 2004 by € 26.625 million to a total of € 132.625 million. This means an extra budget for Support to development and consolidation of democracy and the rule of law, and a new budget for victims of human rights abuses. Projects can be supported in 32 ‘Focus Countries’, including five Mediterranean Partners (Algeria; Israel; Tunisia; Turkey; and the West Bank & Gaza Strip). They are managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. More at
* The leaders of the world’s key industrialised countries, the G 8, meeting on 9 June in Sea Island, Georgia, USA, committed to a ‘Partnership for Progress and a Common Future’ with the Region of the Broader Middle East and North Africa. Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) and President of the European Council, Bertie Ahern, pointed out that “the EU is of course developing its own distinct but complementary strategic partnership which is expected to be finalised at the European Council next week. The Union is building on longstanding relationships and institutional structures which this policy is intended to develop. We remain open to the possibility of collaboration with other initiatives where areas of co-operation can be identified”. The meeting was also attended by European Commission President Romano Prodi. More on http://www.eu2004.ie
* The 4th Ministerial Meeting of the European Investment Bank’s Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), held on 7 June in Alexandria, welcomed results achieved in private sector development and prepared future action. Hosted by Egyptian Prime Minister Dr Atef Obeid, the meeting took place under the joint chairmanship of Egyptian Finance Minister Dr Medhat Hassanein and EIB Vice-President in charge of FEMIP, Philippe de Fontaine Vive. Participants welcomed FEMIP’s achievements during 2003, the first operational year since its launch. Some € 2.1 billion were lent to Mediterranean Partners, about half this amount going to private sector projects. The creation of the FEMIP Trust Fund was also discussed, as well as progress on the FEMIP Technical Assistance Support Fund, whose commitments for 2003-2004 should reach € 54.7 million. In addition, it was stated that FEMIP should fully participate in the enhanced support to small and medium-sized enterprises called for by the G 8. The meeting was also attended by European Commissioner Siim Kallas, and representatives of the World Bank group, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the African Development Bank (AfDB). More at http://www.eib.org/lending/med/en/index.htm . Mr Kallas’ speech is on line at http://europa.eu.int/comm/commissioners/kallas/speeches_en.htm
* The first EU-Egypt Association Council will take place on 14 June in Luxembourg, two weeks after the entry into force of the Association Agreement. This will be an opportunity for officially launching the Agreement and discussing the establishment of joint structures for its implementation. The Egyptian Delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher and the EU will be represented by Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten. The Association Council will first adopt its rules of procedure. The state of EU-Egypt relations and future prospects will then be discussed, including the implementation of the Association Agreement and the strengthening of relations in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy. Under Political Dialogue the regional role of Egypt as facilitator for the Middle East Peace Process and for Dialogue between Cultures should be stressed, and other issues of mutual interest such as Iraq and Sudan will be discussed. In the margins of the Association Council, Mr Maher will meet EU High Representative Javier Solana, European Commissioner Chris Patten, and his colleague in charge of Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Günter Verheugen.
* Participants in a Ministerial Meeting on a ‘Wider Europe for Transport’ held on 8 June in Santiago de Compostela, Spain decided to set up a High Level Group which will seek agreement on extending the trans-European transport network (TEN) to the EU’s neighbours, including the Mediterranean Partners. The meeting was co-hosted by the European Commission Vice-President in charge of Transport and Energy, Loyola de Palacio, and the Chairman of the European Parliament Committee on Regional Policy, Transport and Tourism, and attended by the Transport Ministers of Turkey, Italy, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Spain, Russia and Ukraine. More on http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm
* Tunisia’s Minister for Trade Mondher Zenaidi was received by European Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy on 7 June in Brussels. Pan-Euro-Mediterranean cumulation of origin was discussed in the light of the dismantling of MFA (Multifibre Agreement) quotas scheduled for 2005. Mr Lamy said the European Commission is looking at the implications for Tunisia’s textile industry. In addition, discussions in progress on how to implement the Association Agreement with reference to trade in processed agricultural products were mentioned. Finally, Mr Zenaidi outlined his country’s strategy in relation to the Doha Development Agenda, and confirmed Tunisia’s interest in trade facilitation in a multilateral framework, as well as the country’s intention to engage in bilateral negotiations with the EU concerning liberalisation of trade in services.
* The MED Committee will meet on 16 June in Brussels. Committee members are expected to give an opinion on National Financing Plans 2004 for Egypt, Jordan, and the West Bank & Gaza Strip, as well as an additional programme for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, which forms part of the Regional Financing Plan 2004 (Part I). The rest of the Regional Plan (Part I) was given the green light by the MED Committee on 21 April (see Euromed Synopsis No 268). There will also be an exchange of views on local co-ordination, and the European Commission will inform the Committee on the European Neighbourhood Policy.
* The 8th Annual Conference of Euro-Mediterranean government experts on Economic Transition is taking place on 10 and 11 June in Brussels under the title ‘A legal and regulatory environment for an efficient market economy’. A number of presentations prepared for the Conference on subjects such as Institutions, the Judiciary, Competition Policy, and Corporate Governance are available on line at http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/euromed/etn/8mtg/index.htm
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* EUROMED QUALITY OPENING CONFERENCE
The Opening Conference for the MEDA funded Euromed Quality Regional Programme will take place on 17 and 18 June in Brussels. The recently launched Euromed Quality Programme, which is managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office and co-ordinated by the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN), aims at raising awareness of quality issues and boosting standardisation in the Mediterranean Partners in view of the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area in preparation. The Conference will be an opportunity for giving an overview of the Programme, and presenting activities carried out during the first half of 2004. Experience gained from CEN technical assistance to Malta and Turkey will be outlined, as well as the quality infrastructure in Mediterranean Partners, including new EU Member States Cyprus and Malta. Presentations will also be made of the technical assistance provided to the Mediterranean Partners by CEN’s partner organisations CENELEC for the electrical industry, ETSI in the telecommunications sector, and NORMAPME for small businesses. The last sessions of the Conference will be devoted to activities to be developed during the second half of this year, as well as Euromed Quality Contact Points and logistical arrangements. Participants will be representatives of bodies dealing with quality and standardisation issues in Mediterranean Partners.
* EUROMED HERITAGE CONFERENCE WILL ASSESS RESULTS AND LOOK AT PROSPECTS
Stakeholders in the MEDA funded Euromed Heritage Regional Programme will meet from 17 to 19 June in Rome for a conference held under the title ‘A Tangible Example of Dialogue between Cultures’. Euromed Heritage aims at boosting Euro-Mediterranean co-operation on nearly all aspects of Mediterranean cultural heritage, including archaeological sites, written documents, oral tradition, and festivals. The Programme, which is going through the second of three phases, is managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office, and its implementation is co-ordinated by the Istituto Centrale per il Catalogo e la Documentazione (ICCD), a public body within Italy’s Ministry for the Arts. The Conference’s opening session will address the role played by Euromed Heritage in the Barcelona Process. The recently completed final evaluation of Euromed Heritage I will be presented and discussed. Participants will then look at the sustainability of the Programme’s projects. Other sessions will be devoted in particular to Cultural Heritage Policies and Local Development, Cultural Site Management, and Euro-Mediterranean University Exchanges in the field of culture. A last session on 19 June will be dedicated to the administrative aspects of Euromed Heritage II and III projects. http://www.euromedheritage.net
* EUROPEAN JAZZ AND MOROCCAN MUSIC IN RABAT
The 9th “Jazz aux Oudayas” Music Festival will bring together European jazz musicians and Moroccan musicians in Rabat from 11 to 15 June for a dialogue in notes between the two sides of the Mediterranean. The Festival is organised by the European Commission Delegation in Morocco, EU Member States’ Embassies and Cultural Institutes in Rabat, the Wallonia-Brussels Delegation, and the Hellenic Foundation for Culture, in partnership with Morocco’s Ministry for the Arts, and the regional authorities in Rabat. More on http://www.delmar.cec.eu.int
* 10TH EUROPE DAY CONCERT IN AMMAN
The 10th Europe Day Concert took place on 5 June in Amman on the intiative of the European Commission Delegation in Jordan, under the patronage of HM Queen Rania. The event brought together members of the European Union Chamber Orchestra and young Jordanian musicians.
Brussels,06 14 2004