* The European Council is meeting on 17 and 18 June in Brussels. It is expected to adopt the final report on an EU Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
* The 1st EU-Egypt Association Council took place on 14 June in Luxembourg. Two weeks after the entry into force of the Association Agreement, this was an opportunity to officially start a new era in bilateral relations. The Egyptian Delegation was led by Foreign Minister Ahmed Maher, and the EU was represented by Irish Foreign Minister Brian Cowen, and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten. Discussions focused on the implementation of the Agreement, the Barcelona Process, and the European Neighbourhood Policy. Under Political Dialogue political subjects of common interest, notably the Middle East Peace Process and Iraq, were discussed. In the margins of the Association Council, Mr Maher met EU High Representative Javier Solana and Commissioner Patten.
* The 2nd meeting of the EU-Jordan Association Committee will be held on 24 June in Luxembourg. It will start with an exchange of views on political issues of common interest, including the situation in the Middle East and Iraq, and the fight against international terrorism. Under Dialogue on Human Rights, political reform in Jordan will be discussed. An exchange of views will take place on the Draft Action Plan for Jordan under the European Neighbourhood Policy as consultations on that subject are scheduled to end on the eve of the Committee meeting. A number of issues will be discussed under economic co-operation, including environment, investment, industrial modernisation, and services. Also on the agenda are Trade and Customs Issues, including the implementation of the Association Agreement, prospects for future liberalisation, the Agadir Agreement, and cumulation of rules of origin between Jordan, Israel and the EU on the basis of recent recommendations by the relevant Trilateral Working Group. Co-operation in a number of other fields will be discussed, including Justice and fighting organised crime and terrorism, Social Affairs and Migration, Research and Technology, and Transport, Energy and Telecommunications. Finally, the Committee will look at the state of play of financial co-operation and discuss the National Indicative Programme 2005-2006, as well as institutional affairs.
* The MED Committee met on 16 June in Brussels. Committee members gave a favourable opinion on National Financing Plans 2004 for Jordan (€ 30 million) and the West Bank & Gaza Strip (€ 101.25 million, of which € 73.5 of MEDA funding and € 27.75 under Financial and Technical Co-operation). The National Financing Plan 2004 for Egypt was also discussed. As far as the Spinning and Weaving Project for that country is concerned, the decision will be made on 7 July through a written procedure following a technical meeting in Cairo. A favourable opinion was also given on an additional programme for Palestinian refugees in Lebanon (€ 4 million), which forms part of the Regional Financing Plan 2004 (Part I). The rest of the Regional Plan had been given the green light by the MED Committee on 21 April. In addition, there was an exchange of views on local co-ordination, and the European Commission informed the Committee on the state of play of the European Neighbourhood Policy.
* A Euro-Mediterranean Workshop on the Rights of the Child will take place on 22 June in Brussels. It will be the first in a series of meetings designed to bring experts together to discuss possibilities for concrete co-operation. The implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child will be discussed, as well as cross-border family law issues.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* 1ST EURO-MED SEMINAR ON COMBATING DRUG TRAFFICKING
A Training Seminar for Mediterranean Senior Police and Customs Officers on Combating Drug Trafficking will be held from 21 to 25 June in Madrid within the Police strand of the MEDA funded Regional Programme on Governance and Improvement of the Rule of Law, which is managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. This will be the first in a series of three Seminars on Fighting Drugs, one of the main goals of the “Regional Co-operation Programme in the area of Justice, the Fight against illicit drugs, organised crime, and terrorism, as well as co-operation on the questions linked to the social integration of immigrants, migration, and movement of persons”. Issues to be addressed include the present day situation and challenges, risk Assessment and Evaluation of Investigations, Drugs Seizures, Smuggling Methods and Scanning, Crossborder and International Co-operation. The Seminar includes presentations by senior officials from both sides of the Mediterranean, round tables, and visits to Spanish police facilities. The implementation of the Police project and the Seminar are co-ordinated by CEPOL, the European Police College.
* STATE OF PLAY OF EURO-MED ENVIRONMENTAL CO-OPERATION UNDER SMAP
(SHORT AND MEDIUM-TERM PRIORITY ENVIRONMENT ACTION PROGRAMME)
Environmental Co-operation between the EU and its Mediterranean Partners will be reviewed and discussed at the 6th meeting of SMAP Correspondents to be held on 21 and 22 June in Brussels. The meeting will start with an overview of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, including the European Neighbourhood Policy. Participants will then discuss the orientations and objectives adopted for the 3rd phase of EU support to SMAP under MEDA regional funding (‘SMAP III’), managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. Presentations will be made of the various financial instruments available or planned for funding or supporting environmental activities besides the existing MEDA Programme (the European Neighbourhood Financial Instrument; the European Investment Bank’s Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP); and METAP, the Mediterranean Technical Assistance Programme). Finally, presentations will be made of other regional initiatives relating to the environment, notably the Local Water Management Programme and the Sustainability Impact Assessment Study of the Euro-Med Free Trade Area (see below), two MEDA funded activities managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. Information on environmental projects funded under SMAP and other MEDA and EU programmes is now available from a dedicated web portal launched on 16 June, which is the latest achievement of the MEDA funded ‘SMAP II’ Programme. The portal is also intended to disseminate best practices and case studies, facilitate contacts, matchmaking, exchanges, and partnership building. http://www.smaprms.net
* GREENING MEDITERRANEAN SMALL BUSINESSES THROUGH IT
How to improve the environmental performance of South Mediterranean small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the food, textile, and hotel sectors was the subject of a seminar held on 16 June in Amman within the MEDA funded SMITE Project (‘Improving Competitiveness of SMEs through IT-based Environmental Business Planning’). SMITE is part of the Euro-Mediterranean Information Society (EUMEDIS) Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. The € 1.6 million project launched in 2002 aims at creating a Mediterranean web-information node for SMEs in the food, textile and hotel sectors over 3 years.
* EURO-MED CITY REPRESENTATIVES MEET IN TUNISIA
Members of the Euro-Med group of the ‘Eurocités’ organisation and European Commission representatives will meet on 25 and 26 June in Mahdia, Tunisia to take stock of co-operation among some 50 towns and cities on both shores of the Mediterranean and look at prospects for future action. A review of the MEDA funded MED’ACT pilot project on sustainable development will be presented at a workshop on ‘Sustainable Development and the Challenges for the Mediterrranean’. Another workshop will address ‘The European Neighbourhood Policy and co-operation under the MEDA and INTERREG Programmes’. Participants will visit Mahdia’s Medina where a new method of solid waste collection is being put in place as part of the MED’ACT Project, based on co-operation with the city of Rome and financial support from the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office.
* SEMINAR ON FACILITATING INVESTMENT IN SYRIA
A seminar on how to facilitate inward investment was held from 14 to 16 June in Damascus within the MEDA funded ANIMA Regional Programme of Investment Promotion, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. The Seminar was opened by Syria’s Industry Minister Mohammad Safi Abu Dan, and a presentation of MEDA activities, notably on investment was made by the Head of the European Delegation in Syria, Dr Frank Hesske. Sessions addressed Investment climate in the Mediterranean Region and in Syria, and how to create an investment promotion agency. Participants were Syrian officials and local representatives of EU Member States. ANIMA aims at stimulating investment in the region through a Euro-Mediterranean network of investment promotion agencies. http://www.animaweb.org
* WHAT WILL BE THE IMPACT OF THE EURO-MED FREE TRADE AREA?
Information to help answer that question is now available from the web site dedicated to the MEDA funded “Sustainable Impact Assessment Study of the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area”, co-ordinated by the University of Manchester, UK. The information will be expanded as the work develops, and will include the provision of minutes of public consultations, news of related events and links to other relevant sites. http://idpm.man.ac.uk/sia-trade . Interested parties are encouraged to express their views on the impact of trade liberalisation on sustainable development in the region by sending a message to firstname.lastname@example.org
* YOUNG EGYPTIANS MADE AWARE OF LOCAL HERITAGE
Many schoolchildren and students, and a number of grown-ups in the Egyptian cities of Mansoura, Port-Said, Zagazig and Assiut have been made more aware of their local and regional heritage through a project carried out by the “Centre d’études de langue française” in Mansoura and supported by the European Commission Delegation in Cairo under local cultural activities. The project’s closing ceremony will be held on 22 June in Mansoura. Meetings, research activities, study trips, workshops, competitions were organised over the last three years, as well as a number of music and cinema festivals.
Brussels,06 21 2004