* The EU Council of Ministers on 28 June adopted a Joint Action extending the mandate of the EU Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process, Marc Otte, until 28 February 2005. The Council agreed on an 8-month extension of the mandate instead of the usual 6 months to bring the timing of the mandate into line with that of European Commission budgetary procedures.
* The European Investment Bank (EIB) on 28 June announced it was providing a further € 12.38 million to the Algerian Cement Company, the country’s only private sector cement producer, for expanding its cement works near M’Sila, 240 km south-west of Algiers. The financing agreement was signed in Paris by the Chief Executive Officer of Egypt’s Orascom Construction Industries, Nassef Sawiris and the EIB Vice-President in charge of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), Philippe de Fontaine Vive. The Vice-President described the operation as “an exemplary South-South private sector investment, … bringing together Egyptian, Algerian and European investors”. More at http://www.eib.org/lending/med/en/index.htm
* The Quartet envoys, UN Special Co-ordinator Terje Roed-Larsen, US Assistant Secretary William Burns, EU Special Representative Marc Otte, and Russian Middle East Envoy Alexander Kalugin met on 24 June in Taba, Egypt to follow up on the conclusions of the Quartet Ministerial meeting held on 4 May in New York. The envoys stressed their strong support for the efforts of the Egyptian government in working with the two sides to put in place arrangements that will be critical to the success of the Israeli initiative to withdraw from Gaza. The full statement is available on the web at http://europa.eu.int/news_index.en.htm . (go to ‘Council’ bottom right, then click on ‘latest press releases’)
* The first meeting of the EU-Morocco Reinforced Political Dialogue was held on 29 June in Rabat in the presence of representatives of the Irish and incoming Dutch Presidencies of the EU. The European Commission was represented by its Director for Relations with the Middle East and South Mediterranean, Christian Leffler. The EU Delegation was welcomed by the Director of Morocco’s Foreign Ministry. A vast array of subjects were discussed, including the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean and the Middle East, Human Rights, Western Sahara, the Middle East Peace Process, Iraq, Terrorism, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Africa, and the European Security and Defence Policy.
* The 2nd meeting of the EU-Jordan Association Committee took place on 24 June in Amman. The meeting was opened by Jordan’s Minister of Planning Bassem Awadallah. In the light of the agreement reached by Jordan and the EU on 23 June on a draft action plan under the European Neighbourhood Policy, to be submitted to the EU Council and the relevant Jordanian authorities for approval, the Association Committee decided to activate six thematic sub-committees of the Association Agreement to implement the action plan. Within Political Dialogue the abolition of the death penalty was discussed, as well as the Middle East Peace Process, Iraq, and the Strategy for the Mediterranean and the Middle East. The Committee also held a very substantial dialogue on Human Rights, notably on the Jordanian government’s reform programme and the punishment of crimes against women, and the two sides decided to follow it up at all levels. There was an exchange of views on the state of play of the implementation of the Association Agreement, including economic co-operation, trade liberalisation and facilitation, social issues and poverty alleviation. The Committee decided to reinforce co-operation to promote foreign and domestic investment, to open negotiations in view of further liberalising trade in agricultural products, and to continue work started in the transport and energy areas.
* The first Extended Meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Non-Governmental Platform (Civil Forum) was held on 25 and 26 June in Limassol, Cyprus with the participation of over 80 representatives of regional, thematic, sub-regional, national and local networks. A Charter of common values and principles for membership of the Platform were adopted. A modus operandi for the transitional period until the holding of a founding general assembly in March 2005 was established, an action plan was approved, and a monitoring group was created, which will supervise decision implementation. In addition, preparations for the March 2005 assembly and Civil Forum to be organised in principle in Morocco, were discussed in the light of the co-ordination meeting held on 21 June with representatives of the future Luxembourg Presidency of the EU, Luxembourg and Moroccan NGOs, the Platform, and the European Commission. Other subjects were debated, particularly the need to reinforce existing networks and stimulating emerging ones, and the relevance of Platform activities aiming to make the voice of civil society heard in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* WATER NATIONAL FOCAL POINTS MEET TO REVIEW NETWORK PROGRESS
National Focal Points of the MEDA funded Euro-Mediterranean Information System on the know-how in the Water Sector (EMWIS) will meet on 6 and 7 July in Rabat to review the current progress of EMWIS and its 20 National Focal Points and to discuss the practical implementation of the second phase of the project (2003-2006), notably co-ordination aspects. Demonstrations will be made of EMWIS online services, as well as presentations of projects carried out within the MEDA funded Local Water Management Regional Programme (MEDA Water). The SEMIDE project and MEDA Water are managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. Participants in the meeting will be representatives of 16 National Focal Points, 9 of which from Mediterranean Partners, other members of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the EMWIS Technical Unit, and experts. EMWIS aims at facilitating exchange of information and best practice on water across the Mediterranean through an Internet-based network. National Focal Points are provided for by the respective host countries. http://www.emwis.org
* MEDITERRANEAN ARTS AND CRAFTS ON DISPLAY IN PARIS
Pieces of traditional clothing and jewellery, and various artefacts from eight Mediterranean Partners (Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Territories, Tunisia, and Turkey) and EU countries France and Greece are on display in Paris until 24 September at a MEDA supported exhibition called ‘Prints and Colours of the Mediterranean’. The exhibition has been staged within the PRODECOM project, part of the Euromed Heritage II Regional Programme managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. PRODECOM aims in particular at promoting the Cultural Products for Development label, which it helped create. Details are available from the web site http://www.chbeauxarts-prodecom.org/agenda/txtagenda.htm .
* TEXTILES AND CLOTHING TAKE UP LARGE PART OF EURO-MED TRADE
Textiles and clothing exports for some Mediterranean Partners account for around half of their total exports to the EU, with shares as high as 54% for Tunisia, 53% for Morocco, and 47% for Turkey. Turkey in 2003 was the 2nd clothing exporter to the EU of 25, with Tunisia and Morocco holding 6th and 7th place respectively. Over half the EU’s textile exports to the outside world in 2002 went to the Mediterranean Partners, mostly for processing and transformation into garments. Over 3.7 million people in the Mediterranean Partners (excluding the Palestinian Territories) are employed in the textiles & clothing sector. Those figures and a few others can be found on a Memo on Trade in Textiles published by the European Commission, and made available from the web site http://europa.eu.int/news_index.htm (in ‘Latest Press Releases’).
* CULTURAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN ISRAELIS AND PALESTINIANS…
The third annual Masrahid Festival, which aims to support cultural dialogue between audiences and artists from Israel and East Jerusalem, will open on 6 July in Acco (Acre). It is the result of co-operation between the Acco Theater Centre and the Palestinian National Theatre in East Jerusalem, and receives support as part of cultural activities of the European Commission Delegation in Tel Aviv. It will feature Arabic language one-man performances, as well as performances by Palestinian and Jewish poets and stand-up comedians.
* …AND BETWEEN EUROPEANS AND ISRAELIS
The 6th ‘Stage-Center Workshops’, supported by the European Commission Delegation in Tel Aviv, will take place from 6 to 25 July in Israel. European dancers, mimes and other performing artists will hold a series of master classes, presentations, lectures and performances, sometimes in collaboration with Israeli counterparts. While most of the events are designed for professionals, some are open to the general public.
Brussels,07 05 2004