* The European Commission on 9 September announced it had approved funding for 13 new environment projects in the Mediterranean Partners under the LIFE Third Countries programme 2004. The 13 projects will share an EU contribution of over € 5 million. The EU co-funding will contribute to improving the environment and achieving sustainable development in each Mediterranean Partner and in the region as a whole. Operations supported range from introducing clean technologies into Egypt’s and Tunisia’s tanning industries to setting up an ‘eco-efficient’ industrial estate in Morocco. Some projects provide for cross-border co-operation, notably between Israel and Jordan, and Jordan and Syria. Detailed information on the projects is available at http://europa.eu.int/comm/environment/life/project/index.htm
* The recently elected European Parliament (EP) on 14 September adopted a decision on the numerical strength of the interparliamentary delegations. In addition, Parliament on 15 September adopted a decision on the membership of the various EP delegations, including the 45 strong Delegation to the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly. The Delegation for relations with the Mashrak countries, the Delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries and the Arab Maghreb Union (including Libya), the Delegation for relations with Israel, and the Delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council will each have 20 full members as against 19, 23, 18 and 18 members respectively in the former Parliament. The Delegation to the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee will comprise 25 full members. The Delegation to the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly held its constituent meeting on 15 September in Strasbourg. The Delegation to EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee will hold its constituent meeting on 22 September in Brussels. All other delegations for relations with the Mediterranean region will hold theirs on 20 September in Brussels.The lists of MEPs making up the various Delegations can be downloaded from the EP web site http://www.europarl.eu.int/press/index_en.htm . Please click on “Appointments to delegations” and follow the link.
* Lebanon’s Prime Minister Rafic Hariri is meeting top European officials on 16 September in
Brussels. Mr Hariri had cordial meetings with European Commission President designate José Manuel Barroso and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten. He was also scheduled to meet EU High Representative Javier Solana and Commissioner designate for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) featured high in the Prime Minister’s talks with Mr Barroso. The future Commission President stressed that the ENP would be important in shaping the EU’s relations with Lebanon in the foreseeable future, insisting that the policy is demand-driven, and that it is up to Lebanon to decide how far it wanted to go in integrating with the EU. Mr Hariri said his government was very keen on taking part in the ENP, and willing to carry out the necessary approximation work on political and economic issues. Mr Barroso referred to Lebanon’s democratic tradition in the Middle East, saying he would like to see that fully restored. The Prime Minister underlined his country’s dual Arab and European dimensions. Commissioner Patten expressed satisfaction at good relations between the EU and Lebanon, mentioning however some cause for concern on the implementation of the Paris II commitments, the humanitarian situation of the Palestinian refugees, and the recent UN Security Council Resolution 1559. The Middle East Peace Process and the Road Map were also discussed, as well as Lebanon’s internal political developments.
* “The impact of the Israeli-Arab conflict, the continuing instability in Iraq, and our relations with the countries of the Mediterranean will be on top of (the EU’s) agenda”, EU High Representative Javier Solana stated on 10 September in Paris at the Annual Conference of the Institute for Security Studies of the EU. “In the wider Mediterranean region”, he went on, “next year we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona Process. It remains a success story. Could we imagine such a co-operation, in so many fields with our Mediterranean Partners, without this instrument? The answer is objectively negative. Of course, we should try to be more ambitious. That is the reason why I have given clear instructions to have a frank assessment of what has been achieved and where we, the EU and the Partners, have failed”.
* European Commission President designate José Manuel Barroso received Jordan’s Prince Hassan bin Talal on 13 September in Brussels. Discussions focused on the scope for co-operation in the framework of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue of Cultures and Civilisations.
* Meetings of the Euro-Mediterranean Ad Hoc Informal Working Groups on Partnership Building Measures and European Neighbourhood Policy took place on 15 September in Brussels in a constructive atmosphere. The first working group made a positive assessment of the MEDA funded regional project on disaster prevention and management, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office, and there was agreement on implementing a bridging project prior to the definitive action in 2007. On Maritime Safety, working group members agreed to avoid duplicating existing activities, and to explore possible additional ones. Finally there was a generally favourable attitude to co-operation on landmine clearance. The Working Group on European Neighbourhood Policy heard a general presentation by the European Commission. It was then agreed that discussions could be more usefully pursued once the first Action Plans were in the public domain.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* PREPARATIONS FOR MEDITERRANEAN VIRTUAL UNIVERSITY JUST LAUNCHED
Online courses will be delivered to students across the Mediterranean region once a recently launched MEDA supported project called ‘Mediterranean Virtual University’ has achieved one of its main objectives. The project, which has been allocated € 3.2 million under MEDA, forms part of the EUMEDIS Regional Programme (Euro-Mediterranean Information Society), managed by the EUropean COmmission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. It brings together top universities in Egypt, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Syria, and Turkey, and universities in 4 EU countries (Cyprus, Denmark, Malta, and the UK) who are leading the way in e-learning. ‘Mediterranean Virtual University’ is co-ordinated by the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, UK. The courses will initially be in IT-related areas, and the content will be defined in partnership with industry, taking their needs into account. Another major objective of the project is to build a lasting international educational network in order to facilitate exchanges of academic and technical expertise in e-learning across the Euro-Mediterranean region. http://www.eumedis.net
* NEW PROJECT FOR REHABILITATION OF MEDITERRANEAN ARCHITECTURE
Techniques for rehabilitating traditional Mediterranean architecture are going to be identified, studied, disseminated, and demonstrated within a recently launched MEDA funded project called Rehabimed. The 3-year project is part of the Euromed Heritage III Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. It builds on the results from the Euromed Heritage I projects Corpus and Corpus Levant, dedicated to cataloguing and promoting traditional Mediterranean architecture. Rehabimed, which has been allocated over € 2.7 million, involves establishing a 15-country network, compiling and disseminating thematic files, running training activities, transferring know-how, and conducting pilot operations. It is co-ordinated by the College of Architects in Barcelona, Spain and involves partners from Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Cyprus, and France. http://www.euromedheritage.net
* LAUNCHING CONFERENCE FOR VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART
Experts and representatives of Mediterranean and European museums will meet from 23 September to 3 October in Berlin to make preparations for a ‘Virtual museum of Islamic art’, the main activity within the ‘Discover Islamic Art’ project, part of the MEDA funded Euromed Heritage III Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. The new project builds on ‘Museum with no Frontiers’, a Euromed Heritage I project which has led to the creation of ‘heritage trails’ presenting Islamic art treasures in their natural environment, and the publication of catalogues to those life-size exhibitions. The Berlin meeting will start with workshops on staging Museum with no Frontiers exhibitions in Algeria and Syria. Co-ordination meetings on the virtual museum will follow. The Conference itself taking place on 1 October will begin with a speech by Germany’s Minister of State at the Foreign Ministry, Kerstin Müller. The structure of the virtual museum will then be confirmed, and financial and administrative issues will be discussed among project managers and partners. The ‘Discover Islamic Art’ project is co-ordinated by the Museum with no Frontiers association.
* NEW EURO INFORMATION CENTRES FOR BUSINESS IN SYRIA
Five relays of Syria’s Euro Info Correspondence Centre (EICC) will be opened shortly to help provide information and possibly consultancy services to businesses in their own region. Signing ceremonies for the occasion were held on 13 and 14 September in Damascus and Aleppo in the presence of representatives of the European Commission Delegation in Damascus. Syria is the first non-EU country to be authorised to operate a sub-network of EICC relays. The MEDA funded Syrian European Business Centre (SEBC) is currently financing and hosting the EICC, which is part of a network of business support institutions in EU Member States and neighbouring countries. The five relays will be hosted by the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce, the Aleppo Chamber of Industry, the Damascus Chamber of Commerce, the Damascus Chamber of Industry, and the Homs Chamber of Commerce and Industry respectively. For further information e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org , web site http://www.sebcsyria.org
* MED-INTERPRISE TUNISIA BUSINESS EVENT POSTPONED
MED-INTERPRISE-TUNISIA, the MEDA funded business event scheduled to take place from 22 to 24 September in Tunis, has been postponed by decision of the organisers, Tunisia’s Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA). The event will probably be held from 8 to 10 February, 2005.
* EC DELEGATION IN DAMASCUS HAS NEW OFFICE
The European Commission Delegation in Damascus has moved house recently to accommodate a growing staff. Its new address is Wahab Bin Sa’ad St. 3, Damascus (Syrian Arab Republic), P.O. Box 11269. The phone and fax numbers remain unchanged: +963-11 332-7640 and +963-11 332-0683 .
Brussels,09 21 2004