* The EU Council of Ministers on 11 October decided to lift the arms embargo against Libya, and repeal a set of economic sanctions adopted in application of United Nations Security Council resolutions as part of “a policy of engagement with Libya”. In Conclusions adopted to this effect, the Council “regarded Libya’s full integration into the Barcelona Process the overall objective of engagement. It reiterated that participation in the Barcelona Process … remains subject to Libya’s readiness to accept in full and unconditionally the Barcelona Declaration (of 1995) … and the Barcelona acquis.” The full text of the Conclusions is available from the website http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm (go to ‘Council’, right, then ‘EU Council’, left, and ‘General Affairs/External Relations).
* The European Investment Bank on 12 October announced it was providing € 60 million in support of Egypt’s private sector under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). The funds, in the form of global loans, will be channelled through major Egyptian banks to small and medium-sized private sector projects in the areas of industry, services and tourism, as well as agri-food. In a first phase the partner banks include the Export Development Bank of Egypt and the National Bank of Egypt. http://www.eib/org/lending/med/en/index.htm
* The EU Council of Ministers meeting on 11 October in Luxembourg adopted conclusions condemning “in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in Taba and Ras Satan”, and a statement on the Middle East Peace Process expressing “its grave concern at the unprecedented cycle of retaliatory violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories”. Both texts are available from the web site mentioned in the 1st box above. During the same meeting, the EU Council took note of a progress report by the European Commission on the state of play of the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plans with the seven countries and territories concerned. It “welcomed the considerable progress made” and invited the European Commission to submit formal proposals to the Council by 20 October.
* The 3rd meeting of the EU-Jordan Association Council held on 11 October in Luxembourg welcomed the successful outcome of consultations on a draft Action Plan under the European Neighbourhood Policy. The tailor-made Action Plan, which covers the next 3 to 5 years, is expected to be officially launched later this year. At political level, the Plan is a response to Jordan’s own agenda of political, social and administrative reform designed to consolidate democracy, accountability, transparency and justice. As for social development, the Action Plan supports Jordan’s policies to boost social cohesion, reduce poverty and achieve sustainable development. The Jordanian delegation was led by Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher, and the EU delegation was led by the current Dutch Presidency. The Association Council also reviewed implementation of the Association Agreement, discussed developments in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and the Agadir Process, as well as the Middle East Peace Process and Iraq.
* “I don’t think there’s a more important problem facing the international community than this one”, European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten stated in a speech on the Situation in the Middle East delivered on 13 October before the European Parliament in Brussels. The full text of the speech can be downloaded from the web site http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm
under “Latest Press Releases”.
* The MED Committee meeting on 13 October in Brussels gave favourable opinions on Tunisia’s National Financing Plan 2004 (€ 22 million), a Supplement to the Financing Plan 2004 for the West Bank and Gaza Strip (€ 23 million), the MEDA Global Allocation 2005-2006 (€ 20 million), and the Neighbourhood Policy Strategy Paper and Indicative Programme for countries under the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (2004-2006). The Global Allocation is used for funding preparations for projects, the Commission Delegations’ cultural and information activities, meetings held within the Barcelona Process, and ad hoc urgent operations.
* The EU-Tunisia Sub-Committee on Industry, Trade and Services will meet on 21 October in Tunis. Progress made on Industrial and Trade Co-operation, notably after the Caserta Conference, will be discussed. Sub-Committee members will be informed of on-going MEDA projects. The state of play of the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area will also be discussed, as well as the follow up to last July’s Istanbul Conference. The launch of bilateral negotiations on services and some bilateral trade issues are also on the agenda.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* AGADIR COUNTRIES AGREE TO SET UP COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC PROCUREMENT
Representatives of the four countries involved in the Agadir Agreement on sub-regional free trade (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia) on 7 October agreed to install by the end of October a Technical Committee tasked with drawing up a detailed Action Plan mainly aimed at approximation of existing regulations in the area of Public Procurement. This was the essential result of an Intra-Regional Seminar on ‘Public Procurement: Auditing and Remedies’ held from 4 to 7 October in Tunis within the MEDA funded Euro-Med Market Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office.The Action Plan will have to define rules and procedures to establish regulatory approximation as a permanent process, reinforce national bodies in charge of awarding public contracts, auditing and remedies, and finally identify areas where technical assistance would be required, such as training and information technology. http://www.euromedmarket.org
* SYRIA’S NATIONAL INDICATIVE PROGRAMME 2005-2006 SIGNED
The MEDA National Indicative Programme (NIP) 2005-2006 for Syria was signed on 12 October in Damascus by the Head of the Syrian State Planning Commission, Abdallah al-Dardari, and the European Commission’s Head of Delegation in Damascus, Frank Hesske. The NIP means € 80 million of MEDA funds for co-operation in areas as diverse as Private Sector Development, Trade, Water, Higher Education, and Civil Society. The funding will cover programmes to be launched in 2005 and 2006.
* TELEMEDICINE CONFERENCES CONFIRM INTEREST IN EURO-MED VIRTUAL HOSPITAL
Twin Conferences held recently in Istanbul and Tunis under the MEDA funded EMISPHER project, part of the EUMEDIS Regional Programme, have confirmed scientific and political interest in the Euro-Mediterranean region in gradually moving from the EMISPHER project towards a Virtual Euro-Mediterranean Hospital (VEMH). EMISPHER is the ‘Euro-Mediterranean Internet-Satellite Platform for Health, medical Education and Research’ and EUMEDIS is managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. The twin conferences entitled “Best Practice in Real-time Telemedicine” were attended by some 270 health experts and decision-makers. They were preceded by workshops on “Infrastructures for Disease Control” and “Infrastructures for the VEMH”. http://www.emispher.org
* ANIMA INVESTMENT PROGRAMME AT INTERNATIONAL AGRI-FOOD TRADE FAIR
Investment opportunities in the Mediterranean Partners will be highlighted at the Paris International Agri-Food Trade Fair (SIAL) held from 17 to 21 October through the participation of the MEDA funded ANIMA Regional Programme designed to stimulate investment in the region via a network of national Investment Promotion Agencies, and managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. ANIMA will have a stand at the Fair and will stage a round table on Investment Opportunities in the Mediterranean Region in the Agri-Food Sector on 21 October. The round table will address the creation of distribution and packaging subsidiaries, ‘greenfield’ investment, partnership agreements, joint ventures, and privatisation. Presentations will be made of the ANIMA Programme, the Mediterranean region’s assets, and a European investor’s experience. http://www.animaweb.org
* MEDITERRANEAN MARITIME HERITAGE IN THE SPOTLIGHT IN MALTA
Mediterranean Maritime Heritage is at the heart of three events held in Malta within the ‘Navigation du savoir’ project, part of the MEDA funded Euromed Heritage Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. A training course on Traditional Maritime Carpentry is being run from 4 to 29 October, focusing on historic boats of various types. The 2nd ‘Salon of Mediterranean Maritime Heritage’ is taking place between 11 and 16 October. It features an exhibition on Arsenals, Sub-aquatic Heritage, and Traditional Maritime Crafts, as well as concerts and historical re-enactments. Finally a conference entitled “War and Peace in the Mediterranean” is being held from 14 to 16 October, covering various aspects of Maritime Heritage, notably Fortified Islands, Landscapes, and Intangible Heritage. The Navigation du savoir project is co-ordinated by the University of Malta. http://www.euromedheritage.net
* REHABILITATION OF ARCHITECTURE IN LEBANON AND SYRIA ON PAPER, CD-ROM AND ON LINE
Two manuals on rehabilitation of traditional architecture in Lebanon and Syria respectively have been published recently within the CORPUS LEVANT project, part of the MEDA funded Euromed Heritage Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. The manuals are in available in paper format edition including a CD-ROM, and on line at http://www.meda-corpus.net . The Lebanon manual is available in Arabic and French, and the Syria manual in Arabic for all versions, as well as English for the CD-ROM and the web versions. Two travelling exhibitions on the same subject will be staged between October 2004 and November 2005.
Brussels,10 18 2004