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* The European Commission on 7 December announced it had allocated a further € 7 million in humanitarian aid for the most vulnerable Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well in refugee camps in Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. The aid will provide access to food, clean water and sanitation for the poorest Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and help rehabilitate the shelters of thousands of refugees. It will be channelled through ECHO, the European Commission's Humanitarian Office. More at http://europa.eu.int/comm/echo/index_en.htm

* The European Commission on 9 December approved the first national Action Plans under the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), five of which are designed for Mediterranean Partners (Israel, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, and Tunisia). The Action Plans are the product of negotiations with each Partner. They will help strengthen democracy, good governance, the rule of law and human rights, as well as support economic modernisation. The concrete benefits they contain include the chance to participate in some EU programmes and a stake in the EU Internal Market. In addition, the EU is offering more targeted help to tackle cross-border issues such as migration and trafficking, as well as improved interconnections and physical links with the EU in areas like energy and transport. For each Partner the Action Plan provides an agenda for work with the EU over the next 3-5 years. The plans do not replace, but build upon the existing Association Agreements. More at http://www.europa.eu.int/comm/world/enp/index_en.htm

* The EU Council of Ministers on 2 December adopted a Regulation extending, until the end of 2006, EU support to the development and consolidation of democracy and respect for Human Rights in third countries, with € 134 million for aid programmes worldwide, including Mediterranean Partners. The Regulation amends a 1999 text which provided for € 260 million for 1999-2004. The Programming document 2005-2006 for the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) was adopted by the European Commission on 6 December. The document sets out the objectives and priorities for the worldwide EIDHR programme, which complements MEDA in the South Mediterranean region, notably through support to civil society. Priorities for non-candidate Mediterranean Partners are "Fostering a culture of human rights" and "Promoting the democratic process". The document will soon be on line at http://europa.eu.int/comm/europeaid/projects/eidhr/documents_en.htm


The European Commission on 7 December proposed negotiating directives to the EU Council for the conclusion of a co-operation agreement with Morocco on that country's participation in the GALILEO Programme. GALILEO is the EU's Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) for civil communications. The agreement would involve industrial and scientific co-operation, particularly on standardisation, and developing specific applications for Morocco and its geographic environment. More on GALILEO at http://europa.eu.int/comm/dgs/energy_transport/galileo and http://www.galileoju.com.


* The 5th meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council will be held on 13 December in Brussels. Discussions will mainly focus on the state of and prospects for EU-Israel relations, particularly the implementation of the Association Agreement and the Action Plan drawn up under the European Neighbourhood Policy. The Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean and Middle East will also be discussed. Subjects to be addressed under Political Dialogue include the Middle East conflict and the situation in the region, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, anti-Semitism, and the Fight against Terrorism. In addition, the Association Council is expected to endorse the arrangements on Rules of Origin arrived at by officials of the two sides. The meeting will be attended by Israel's Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom, his Dutch and Luxembourg counterparts Bernard Bot and Jean Asselborn respectively on behalf of the current and next EU Presidencies, as well as EU High Representative Javier Solana and European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

* The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee for assistance to the Palestinians (AHLC) met on 8 December in Oslo under the Chairmanship of Norway's Foreign Minister Jan Petersen. Participants representing international donors to the Palestinian Authority, including the EU, expressed the strong support of the international community for the current Palestinian transition leadership. The AHLC considered the serious economic crisis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and discussed measures for economic stabilisation and revival. Progress in the Palestinian reform programme was reviewed, and the immediate need for additional budget support to the Palestinian Authority was emphasised in view of the continued strong efforts at public financial reform. The preconditions for Palestinian economic revival were also discussed, including action that would have to be taken by Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Donors felt the need to establish a programme of further actions, and the Chair called for a further meeting in early 2005.

* A new office for the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB), was officially opened in Tunis on 9 December. The new representative office is to ensure co-ordination with the Tunisian authorities, borrowers, the banking sector and lenders. It will start operations in early January, 2005. The opening ceremony was led by EIB Vice-President in charge of FEMIP, Philippe de Fontaine Vive, and EIB Director General for Lending Operations outside the EU, Jean-Louis Biancarelli, in the presence of Tunisia's Minister for Development and International Co-operation, Mohamed Jouini. The opening was preceded by a conference on "Starting up a business in Tunisia" organised by the Tunisian Ministry of Development and International Co-operation. In the margins of the conference, a €25 million loan for local infrastructure in Tunisia was signed by Mr de Fontaine Vive and the Managing Director of the Tunisian Fund for lending and support to local authorities (CPSCL), Mohammed Zakhama. http://www.eib.org/lending

* European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, and her colleague in charge of Economic and Monetary Affairs Joaquin Almunia will take part in the "Forum for the Future" meeting scheduled for 11 and 12 December in Rabat. The meeting is a follow-up to the G 8 summit held at Sea Island, USA last June, and stems from the US inspired "Broader Middle East and North Africa" initiative. It will take place at Ministerial Level, bringing together representatives of the G 8 and the Middle East/North Africa region.

* The launch meeting for the Euro-Mediterranean Industrial Co-operation Dialogue on Textiles & Clothing will take place on 13 December in Brussels at senior officials' level. After a presentation of the EU policy framework for the textile and clothing sector after 2005, there will be an exchange of views on what can be expected from Euro-Mediterranean co-operation in this area. This will be followed by a general discussion of working methods to be established to set the co-operation in motion. The meeting takes place against the background of the forthcoming abolition of import quotas on textile and clothing products under new WTO rules.

* The 2nd meeting of the Pan-Euro-Med Working Group on Rules of Origin is scheduled to take place on 15 December 2004 in Brussels. The Working Group was created to deal with any issue of implementation of the pan-Euro-Mediterranean cumulation of origin between the Mediterranean Partners, Romania, Bulgaria, the EFTA countries, the Faeroe Islands, and the EU. At this meeting, the Working Group is expected to adopt its rules of procedure. The meeting will also be an opportunity for participating countries to inform each other on where they stand with the introduction of the pan-euro-med protocol on rules of origin in their free trade agreements. There will also be an exchange of views on the draft explanatory notes which were developed to assist the customs administrations of all partner countries to implement the new origin protocol in a correct and uniform manner. For any further information, please mail Kristian.Vangrieken@cec.eu.int .

* The European Parliament Delegation for Relations with the Maghreb Countries and the Arab Maghreb Union (including Libya) will meet on 16 December in Strasbourg, France. The main point on the agenda is a discussion on EU-Algeria Relations in the presence of the Algerian Ambassador to the EU, Halim Benattallah.

* The 3rd EU-Jordan Economic Dialogue took place on 6 December in Amman. This was the first EU-Jordan Economic Dialogue since the Neighbourhood Action Plan for Jordan was drawn up. Senior Officials from Jordan's Ministries of Planning and Finance, as well as the Central Bank of Jordan, and representatives of the Jordanian business community and the European Commission discussed implementation of the economic and social priorities set in the EU-Jordan Neighbourhood Action Plan expected to be launched shortly. Those priorities include the financial market, banking regulations, structural reforms, social development and economic aspects of poverty alleviation, fiscal policy, and public finance management.

* Two conferences aimed at presenting the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) to Syria's private sector were held on 6 December in Aleppo and on 8 December in Damascus. The conferences were organised and co-chaired by the Syrian Finance Ministry and the European Investment Bank (EIB), which is entrusted with managing FEMIP. Some 500 participants in both conferences heard representatives of Syria, other Mediterranean Partners, the European Commission, the EIB and Mediterranean business organisations. http://www.eib.org


Financing Agreements for three MEDA funded programmes for Syria totalling € 47 million were signed on 8 December in Damascus by the Director for the South Mediterranean/Near and Middle East Area at the European Commission's EuropeAid Co-operation Office, Richard Weber, Syrian Ministers for Finance and Local Administration, and the Head of Syria's State-Planning Commission. The € 21 million Vocational Education and Training Programme aims to improve vocational education and training as regards the textile and maintenance sectors in three pilot governorates (Damascus, Aleppo and Homs). The € 18 million Municipal Administration Modernisation programme will support Syrian cities in improving their administration, financial management and environment practices. Lastly the € 8 million Modernisation of the Ministry of Finance project will provide support to upgrade the institutional framework in the field of taxation and public finance. http://www.delsyr.cec.eu.int

The first MEDA funded Euro-Mediterranean Seminar on Migration will take place from 13 to 18 December in Florence, Italy as part of the Migration strand of the Regional Programme on Justice, Police and Migration, managed by the European Commission's EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The Seminar will be jointly organised by the Commission and the hosting institution, the Robert Schuman Centre of the European University Institute, under the title "International Migration in the Euro-Mediterranean Area and the Enlarged European Union". Speakers will be academics from the EU and Mediterranean Partners, as well as representatives of the European Commission and the International Labour Organisation.

Officials and experts from the countries involved in the Agadir Agreement on sub-regional free trade (Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia) agreed to set up, at short notice, an experts' committee entrusted with drafting an action plan aimed at ensuring adequate protection of intellectual property in the countries concerned, and establishing relevant mechanisms. The initiative emerged from an Intra-Regional Seminar on 'Intellectual Property Rights' held from 29 November to 2 December in Cairo within the MEDA funded EuroMed Market Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission's EuropeAid Cooperation Office. The Seminar aimed to promote a common approach among Agadir countries on intellectual property rights legislation. http://www.euromedmarket.org

The first "Train the Trainers" Seminar to be held as part of the MEDA funded Training of Public Administrations regional project, managed by the European Commission's EuropeAid Co-operation Office, will take place from 13 to 17 December in Maastricht, the Netherlands. The Seminar will be devoted to the identification of training needs and the development of training plans and capacities. The "Train the Trainers" series of seminars aims at improving the capacity of Mediterranean Partners to implement Association Agreements with the EU. Participants will be senior managers and officials in training institutes and authorities responsible for human resources. The project is co-ordinated by the European Institute of Public Administration.

Brussels,12 13 2004
European Union
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