* The European Investment Bank (EIB) on 17 December announced it was lending € 160 million to the Egyptian Electricity Holding Company (EEHC) for two 'clean energy' projects, namely the construction of two natural gas-fired combined-cycle power generation modules, one at Talkha-Damietta power station in the Nile Delta and the other at El Kuriemat power station 90 km south of Cairo. The loan has been granted under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), and the projects, intended to meet the growing demand for power, are scheduled to start commercial operation in 2007. The Egyptian Natural Gas Company will supply locally-extracted natural gas. The loan complements a € 220 million loan granted on 16 December, also under FEMIP, to the Spanish Egyptian Gas Company (SEGAS) for the construction of a liquefied natural gas plant, storage facilities and gas export equipment in Damietta, some 60 km west of Port-Said. This is the biggest project of this type worldwide. The loan was signed on 16 December in Madrid in the margins of an EIB Conference designed to inform Spain's industrial and financial communities of the opportunities provided by FEMIP for investment in the Mediterranean Partners. http://www.eib.org/lending/med/en/index.htm
* The EU Council of Ministers on 10 December adopted a Decision giving the European Commission a negotiating mandate for an aviation agreement with Morocco. The mandate envisages a Euro-Mediterranean Aviation Agreement aiming essentially at market opening and creation of a level playing field for all operators. Negotiating guidelines list a number of areas which include competition and state aid rules, air safety provisions, co-operation on air traffic management and air navigation services, security for civil aviation, and respect for environmental standards. The agreement should also include a technical co-operation chapter on upgrading Morocco's civil aviation-related structures and institutions. This is the first such negotiating mandate since the Council issued guidelines for EU-US negotiations last year, and the first mandate of this kind for the Mediterranean region. The agreement aimed at could become a model for Euro-Mediterranean relations in the aviation sector.
* The European Investment Bank on 17 December announced it had provided Algeria with two grants totalling € 6 million from the Technical Assistance Fund recently created under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). A grant of € 4 million was provided to Algeria's National Motorway Agency (ANA) for both helping to oversee construction of a motorway section between Bouira and El Adjiba, and increasing ANA's capacity and training its staff. On the same terms, € 2 million was made available for two technical assistance schemes related to rebuilding public infrastructure after the May 2003 earthquake. http://www.eib.org/lending/med/en/index.htm
* The European Council, made up of EU Heads of State or Government, meeting on 16 and 17 December in Brussels agreed that the target date for opening accession negotiations with Mediterranean Partner Turkey would be 3 October 2005. The European Council also invited the European Commission to present to the EU Council of Ministers a proposal for a framework for negotiations with Turkey. Heads of State or Government also noted the progress made within the European Neighbourhood Policy with the finalisation of Action Plans for five Mediterranean Partners (Israel, Jordan, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, and Tunisia). The European Council stated that it also looked forward to starting consultations with a view to adopting Action Plans with the remaining (non-candidate) Mediterranean Partners having ratified their Association Agreements with the EU (Egypt and Lebanon). A Declaration on the Middle East Peace Process was also adopted, welcoming "recent efforts made by the Palestinian leadership to ensure a democratic transition in the occupied Palestinian territories". The European Council said the EU would "support the electoral process financially, technically and politically" and reiterated "its commitment to the achievement, through the process outlined in the Roadmap, of a negotiated two-State solution". The text on the European Neighbourhood Policy and the Declaration on the Middle East Peace Process were sent out on 20 December as Euromed Report No 85. They are also available on line at http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/euromed/publication.htm
* The 5th meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Transport Forum took place on 21 and 22 December in Brussels at senior officials' level. Participants discussed the possibility of holding the first Euro-Mediterranean Transport Ministerial Conference in late 2005. The European Commission would then present a "Blue Paper" containing a diagnostic of the Mediterranean Transport System and a Regional Policy Paper with a long-term perspective. The diagnostic would be based on the report drawn up within the MEDA funded Euromed Transport Programme, managed by the European Commission's EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The Transport Forum agreed on activities to be carried out during 2005, which includes Intermodality, Port Reform, Simplifying and harmonising procedures for Border-crossing, and Promoting existing EU legislation (the "acquis") in areas covered by the Neighbourhood Action Plans. Furthermore, the Forum has envisaged that activities in the civil aviation sector could be carried out in 2005-2006 under the European Neighbourhood Policy. In addition, the Forum noted that the MEDA funded GALILEO and SAFEMED projects, both part of Euromed Transport, would begin operations very soon (immediately as regards GALILEO and next February in the case of SAFEMED). Ways to co-ordinate the activities mentioned above with the work of the High-Level Group for the Extension of the Trans-European Network to the new neighbourhood countries were also discussed.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* FINANCING AGREEMENT FOR AGADIR PROCESS SIGNED
The EU and Jordan on 19 December signed a € 4 million financing agreement in Amman to support the Agadir process for the establishment of a free-trade area between Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia. The funds will support the setting up of a Technical Unit in Amman to oversee implementation of the Agadir Agreement, officially signed by the four countries last February. The signing ceremony was attended by Jordan's Planning Minister Bassem Awadallah, European Commission Head of Delegation to Jordan Robert van der Meulen, and the Ambassadors of Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia to Jordan.
* EURO-MED JUSTICE PROGRAMME LAUNCHED
The MEDA funded Euro-Med Justice Programme of Regional Co-operation was launched on 20 December in Brussels at an Opening Conference organised by the European Commission and attended by Senior Officials and experts from all Mediterranean Partners and nearly all EU Member States working in Training Centres, Ministries and other institutions competent in the field of Justice. The new programme is the "Justice" strand of the "Justice, Police and Migration" Regional Programme, managed by the Commission's EuropeAid Co-operation Office. Participants endorsed and specified the five priority topics to be addressed by the Programme's Seminars (1. Initiation to and Training in co-operation and international judicial mutual assistance in criminal matters; 2.Terrorism and Interconnection of criminal networks; 3. International Dimension of Financial Procedures, Economic and Financial Crime, in particular Money Laundering; 4. Initiation to and Training in co-operation and international judicial mutual assistance in civil matters; 5. Management and administration of Justice, management of procedures, computerisation). Six Mediterranean Partners (Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, and Tunisia) and 11 EU Member States (France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain) expressed their willingness to host Seminars within the Programme.
* EXT STEPS FOR VIRTUAL EURO-MED HOSPITAL PLANNED
The educational and research aspects of the future Virtual Euro-Mediterranean Hospital (VEMH) were discussed recently in Berlin at a meeting of the Deans of the Medical Faculties involved in the MEDA funded EMISPHER project, part of the EUMEDIS Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission's EuropeAid Co-operation Office. Deans and General Directors of the Medical Faculties and University Hospitals agreed on strategies and concrete steps to build on the successful implementation of EMISPHER ('Euro-Mediterranean Internet-Satellite Platform for Health, medical Education and Research') for moving towards the development and deployment of the VEMH. In a message to participants in the meeting, Algeria's Minister of Health, Population and Hospital Reform announced that a Conference of the high-level steering committee of the VEMH project would be held next April in Algiers, bringing together Euro-Mediterranean Health Ministers. Participants in the Berlin meeting (from Algiers, Cairo, Casablanca, Istanbul and Tunis, as well as Athens and Patras, Greece, Berlin, Germany, Clermont-Ferrand, France, Nicosia, Cyprus, and Palermo, Italy) will in the meantime alert their respective Health and Higher Education Ministries to the importance of the VEMH initiative, and recommend integration of the project in bilateral co-operation between their countries and the EU. http://www.emuspher.org
* MED-INTERPRISE MOROCCO BOOSTS BUSINESS CO-OPERATION
Some 520 business meetings between Moroccan and European entrepreneurs took place during the MEDA supported "Med-Interprise Morocco 2004" event, held from 6 to 8 December in Marrakesh and managed by the European Commission's EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The event brought together 78 Moroccan small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) specialising in Textiles, Leather and Agri-Food, and around 50 European businesses, mostly from Italy and Spain, but also from France, Portugal and the UK. The event's impact has been all the greater since the three targeted sectors are the biggest in Morocco in terms of employment and industrial production. The event was organised by Morocco's National Agency for the Promotion of SMEs (ANPME). It is part of the Euro-Mediterranean SMEs Co-operation Regional Project.
* EU TRAINING ACTIVITIES OPENED TO MEDITERRANEAN TV AND CINEMA PROFESSIONALS
A number of Cinema and TV professionals from the Mediterranean Partners will have a chance to benefit from the training component of the EU's MEDIA Programme in the same way as their European colleagues as some Training Centres selected under MEDIA's latest Call for Proposals will deliver courses to nationals of Mediterranean countries and territories in 2006. This will be done under the MEDA funded Euromed Audiovisual II Regional Programme (2005-2007), managed by the European Commission's EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The Training Centres will be chosen by EuropeAid according to the priorities set out in the Training component of Euromed Audiovisual II, for which an amount of € 2.5 million has been earmarked. The Call for Proposals was launched recently to select European trainers who will deliver the courses.The details and guidelines for the Call are available from the web site http://europa.eu.int/comm/avpolicy/media/forma_en.html
* EU SUPPORTS LOCAL NGOS TO PROMOTE HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRACY IN ALGERIA
Nine Algerian NGOs active in promoting social and citizens' rights will share a grant totalling € 700,000 following the signing on 20 December in Algiers of 10 contracts under the worldwide European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, managed by the European Commission's EuropeAid Co-operation Office. Ten projects have been selected by the European Commission Delegation in Algiers among 26 proposals. Some of them focus on activities helping women and children living in hardship or affected by terrorism. Others are geared to promoting citizenship through learning how to manage the environment and preventing violent behaviour among young people. Two monitoring centres are also foreseen, one on Human Rights in general and the other on the Rights of the Child. Other initiatives include creating a web portal for Algerian NGOs and setting up a day care centre for physically and mentally handicapped children. The projects will have a duration of 12 to 36 months.
* MASTER CLASSES IN TRADITIONAL MEDITERRANEAN MUSIC
Master classes in Traditional Mediterranean Music will be given from 4 to 6 January 2005 in Istanbul by visiting lecturers from Beirut and Salonica (Thessaloniki), Greece as part of the MEDA funded MediMuses project carried out under the Euromed Heritage II Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission's EuropeAid Co-operation Office. Similar master classes are being held from 20 to 22 December in Cairo. The 9th concert of the 'Musical Traditions of the Mediterranean' series, also part of MediMuses, will be staged on 7 January in Istanbul in the wake of the Master Classes. http://www.medimuses.gr
* EURO-MED SECTION OF EUROPEAN COMMISSION WEB SITE UPDATED
More information on the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership is now available on line as the Euro-Med/External Relations section of the European Commission Web Site has recently been extended and updated to include more documents and new links.
* PORTS, MUSIC AND LIBYA IN THE LATEST MAGAZINE FROM TUNIS
The modernisation of Tunisia's ports, the common roots of Eastern Mediterranean Music and the MediMuses project (see above), and the prospects for Libya's participation in the Barcelona Process are the main subjects in the latest issue (4th Quarter 2004) of "Europa", the magazine published by the European Commission Delegation.
Brussels,12 27 2004