The European Commission on 17 December announced it was providing € 5.45 million to support the EC assistance in relation with the Palestinian reform, and € 2.5 million to fund an EU Election Observation Mission. The sum of € 5.45 million will help carry out urgent activities in key sectors of European Commission assistance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including support for the preparations of elections to the Palestinian Authority.
The EU Election Observation Mission aims to increase the transparency of the electoral process, and the confidence of the electorate.
* The Quartet will meet on 20 December in Washington, DC at Foreign Ministers' level. It is hoped the meeting will adopt a road map for the Middle East Peace Process, including the establishment of a Palestinian State in 2005. The Quartet will be made up of United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Denmark's Foreign Minister and current President of the EU Council Per Stig Moeller, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, EU High Representative Javier Solana, and European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten.
* The President of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), Abu Alaa was received by European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten on 16 December in Brussels. He described the overall situation in the Palestinian Territories, notably the hardship experienced by the local population. Mr Alaa expressed the hope that the roadmap for the creation of a Palestinian State be adopted at the forthcoming Quartet meeting in Washington (see above). This would give the Palestinians some perspective for the future. On holding elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip Mr Alaa stated that at least 3 or 4 months were needed to make preparations, and that the original date of 20 January would not be possible.. He stressed that Palestinian efforts would have to be facilitated by the Israeli authorities. He underlined that Palestinian opinion from Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat through the PLC down to ordinary people favoured elections.
* The European Parliament has decided to postpone the debate and vote on the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement, originally scheduled for the December plenary session, to allow for an urgent debate on the Prestige environmental disaster. The debate on the Lebanon Agreement will most likely take place at the next plenary session in mid-January, 2003.
* The 2nd Training Seminar for Journalists from the South and North Mediterranean is being held from 19 to 22 December in Rabat. The meeting is part of the worldwide European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights. It will be opened by Morocco's Foreign Minister Mohamed Benaissa, and other personalities. Sessions will address 'The Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and Information', 'Media, Human Rights, Peace and Co-operation in the Mediterranean', 'Media Freedom and Codes of Conduct', 'Euro-Mediterranean Programmes in the fields of Information and Telecommunications', and 'Pluralism, Human Rights, and the Role of Information'. Participants include Euro-Mediterranean senior officials, media representatives, and academics.
* The 2nd Euro-Mediterranean Working Group Meeting on Trade Measures Relevant for Regional Integration was held on 16 and 17 December in Malta. It was organised by the Maltese authorities, and the European Commission. First of all the Working Group had a general discussion on regional integration. Customs procedures were then examined, leading to a number of recommendations concerning the need to speed up the introduction of the Single Administrative Document (SAD). On standards, participants stressed the need to establish a regional strategy including priority sectors for standard harmonisation. The report of the Working Group will be presented to Euro-Mediterranean Trade Ministers in July.
* A Workshop on Public Procurement was held within the MEDA funded Regional Euro-Med Market Programme from 16 to 18 December in Maastricht, the Netherlands. All 12 Mediterranean Partners were represented. The Workshop aimed at promoting the understanding of each other's legislation, transparency in government procurement within the Mediterranean Partners, and implementation of policies guaranteeing competitiveness, and equal access to the market on the basis of the best value for money. Participants were senior officials, academics, and business representatives. Presentations were made by the Mediterranean Partners' representatives of their respective legislations and procedures regarding public procurement. The role of the European Commission's "EuropeAid Cooperation Office" in the management of Euro-Med Market was outilined by the European Commission representative. The Mediterranean Partners have been asked to state their priorities for the 2nd phase of the programme.
* The National Counsellors' Meeting for Syria, held in preparation for the next EU-Mashrak Partenariat, took place from 10 to 12 December in Damascus. The meeting was well attended. The opening was attended by Syrian Minister of Economy Ghassan Al Rifai, Acting Director General of Jordan's Export Development and Commercial Centres Dr Salah Gunaim, the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Syria Frank Hesske, and representatives of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut. The EU-Mashrak Partenariat will next spring bring together business people from both the EU and the Mashrak Partners to boost co-operation among Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* ISLAMIC ART IN THE WEST BANK & GAZA STRIP FOR ALL TO SEE
The Palestinian section of the Euro-Mediterranean exhibition 'Islamic Art in the Mediterranean' will be completed in 2003 within the second phase of a MEDA funded project of the same name, for which the contract has been recently signed. The project is part of the EUROMED HERITAGE I Regional Programme. It is co-ordinated by the 'Museum With No Frontiers' International Association, and presents works of art in their natural environment. The Palestinian section is called 'Pilgrimage, Science and Sufism'. It will be shown in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in a specially prepared catalogue, which will be published in English, French, Italian, and Spanish, and made available in bookshops and libraries across the Euro-Mediterranean region. The project receives EU funding for the exhibition, the catalogue, and awareness-raising activities in London, Brussels, and in the Maghreb.
* TENDER FOR AGRICULTURAL AND SOCIAL STATISTICS
Companies, universities, and research centres of the 27 Euro-Mediterranean partners may apply for a contract to take part in the setting up of two new sub-programmes under the MEDA-funded MEDSTAT Regional Programme of statistical co-operation. A Service Procurement Notice to this effect was published on 17 December. The sub-programmes will be called MED-AGRI and MED-SOC, and will cover agricultural and social statistics respectively. EU funding will account for a maximum of € 5.42 million, divided in equal shares between the sub-programmes. The deadline for submitting applications is 20 January 2003. See Funding Opportunities section on p. 3 for details.
* THE MEDA WEB SITE IS ON LINE
A MEDA web site has just been launched by the European Commission's EuropeAid Cooperation Office. It presents co-operation between the European Union and the Southern Mediterranean, Near and Middle East region, and includes information on MEDA funded bilateral and regional activities, as well as other important items such as financial statistics, sectors of co-operation, reports, and publications. Visit it and send us your feedback!
* EUROMED INFORMATION NOTES ON THE WEB
The updated version of the 'Euromed Information Notes' is now available on the web at
Under the subtitled 'Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and MEDA Regional Activities the notes offer 89 pages of information, including tables and contact details.
* LATEST ISSUE OF TUNISIA DELEGATION MAGAZINE
Vocational training in Tunisia, EU Enlargement, and Mediterranean History in cartoons have been brought together by the latest issue of 'Union européenne-Tunisie News Magazine' (2nd half of 2002), published by the European Commission Delegation in Tunis.
* EURO-MEDITERRANEAN WORKSHOPS IN FLORENCE
Registration is open for those wishing to attend the 4th Mediterranean Social and Political Research Meeting of the European University Institute as listening participants. The meeting will take place from 19 to 23 March in Florence, Italy and the registration deadline is 7 January, 2003. The registration form is available from
http://www.iue.it. The 5th Mediterranean Social and Political Research Meeting will be held in Florence from 24 to 28 March, 2004. Scholars can send applications to run a workshop there by 6 January, 2003.
Brussels,01 07 2003