* Agricultural Trade between the EU and the Palestinian Territories has been further liberalised since 1 January 2005 following a Decision by the EU Council of Ministers on 22 December amending the EU-Palestinian Authority Interim Association Agreement. The Decision, implemented by a European Commission Regulation approved on 30 December 2004, is a sign of the importance the EU attaches to the Interim Association Agreement with the Palestinian Authority. It should also be seen in the context of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) shortly after the adoption of a Neighbourhood Action Plan with the Palestinian Authority. Palestinian products set to benefit from the new regime include flowers, tomatoes, grapes, strawberries, and olive oil.
* The European Investment Bank (EIB) on 22 December announced it was providing loans totalling € 340 million to Egypt and Tunisia for transport equipment and infrastructure under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). € 280 million is being lent to EgyptAir Holding Company for financing 7 Airbus aircraft as part of its fleet renewal. Two loans have been granted to Tunisia. One of them (€ 40 million) will go towards upgrading the urban road network of Greater Tunis and the governorates of Monastir and Medenine. The project will be carried out by the Tunisian Ministry for Infrastructure, Housing and Town and Country Planning. A further € 20 million will help Tunisia’s National Railway Company (SNCFT) to finance capital investment aiming at creating a rail link for gypsum waste disposal in the Gabès area, and pursuing the modernisation of the country’s rail network. More at http://www.eib.org/lending/med/en/index.htm.
* The EU Council of Ministers on 22 December adopted a Regulation extending, until the end of 2006, EU support to the development and consolidation of democracy and respect for Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in third countries, with € 78 million for aid programmes worldwide, including Mediterranean Partners. The Regulation amends a 1999 text which provided for € 150 million for 1999-2004, and it applies to operations other than those of development co-operation. EU-funded development co-operation operations in the same area and for the same period (€ 134 million) are covered by a Regulation adopted last December (see Euromed Synopsis 295). Such operations are carried out within the worldwide ‘European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights’ (EIDHR), which complements MEDA in the South Mediterranean region, notably through support to civil society. EIDHR is managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. http://europa.eu.int/comm/europeaid/projects/eidhr/index_en.htm
* The European Parliament (EP) Delegation for Relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council will meet on 12 January in Strasbourg, France. The 9 January Presidential elections in the Palestinian Territories will be discussed, as well as the Calendar of meetings for 2005. The EP Delegation for Relations with Israel will meet on 13 January in the same city. The agenda is not yet available.
* The first meeting of the EU-Jordan Sub-Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries will be held on 11 January in Brussels. The management of the provisions of the Association Agreement related to agricultural trade and co-operation will first be discussed. Under Markets and Trade the European Commission will present the statistics on EU-Jordan trade in agricultural products and processed agricultural products for the period 2001-2003, and the Jordanian delegation will inform the EU on Jordan’s agricultural markets. Short and medium-term objectives as regards trade-related sanitary and phyto-sanitary issues will be discussed, including gradual convergence with EU food safety principles. In addition, a presentation will be made of the reform of the EU’s Agricultural Policy as regards olive oil. On Rural Development there will be an exchange of views on ways of exchanging information and experience between the EU’s Mediterranean countries and Jordan, and presentations of the EU’s current programmes and future policies. On Quality the European Commission will present the state of EU legislation, and there will be an exchange of views on quality and promotion policies. The state of play of relevant MEDA programmes and projects will be discussed. Finally the two sides will look at possible bilateral co-operation in relation to the Neighbourhood Action Plan, and Jordanian participation in twinning activities in the field of agriculture.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* FIRST EURO-MEDITERRANEAN INVESTMENT SUMMIT
Decision-makers from both sides of the Mediterranean will meet in Marseilles on 13 and 14 January to attend the first Euro-Mediterranean Investment Summit, and to discuss practical ways of boosting investment in the Euro-Mediterranean region. The Summit is organised by Economist Conferences with the support of the MEDA funded ANIMA Programme (Euro-Mediterranean Network of Investment Promotion Agencies) designed to promote investment in the Mediterranean Partners, and managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. Speakers will include Ministers from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Turkey, Cyprus and France, senior executives of over 20 businesses among which Microsoft, Renault, HSBC and Groupe Suez, as well as academics and senior representatives of business associations, the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the World Bank. Panel discussions will address issues such as the External Perception of the Region, De-location, New sources of project financing, Privatisation, and Free Trade Areas, and workshops will look at a variety of areas including the Car Industry, Agri-Food, IT and Telecom, Tourism, Textile and Clothing, Water, and Energy. More details at http://www.animaweb.org/news_en.php?id_news=191
* IMPROVING LEBANON’S PRODUCTION AND MARKETING OF FRUIT AND VEGETABLES
Production and marketing of fruit and vegetables in Lebanon will be upgraded in the next three years under a € 12 million MEDA supported ‘Agricultural Development Project’ launched on 21 December by Lebanon’s Agriculture Minister Elias Skaff and the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Beirut, Patrick Renauld. The pilot project, which will effectively start this January, has a three-pronged strategy. It is first designed to improve production techniques while reducing costs, upgrading quality and protecting the environment. It also aims at modernising marketing, promoting conformity with export markets’ standards, and improving information on standards. In addition, support will be provided to the producers’ association. The EU contributes € 10 million, the remainder being put up by the Lebanese government.
* SUPPORT TO LEBANESE HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS
Sixteen projects of Lebanese Human Rights Organisations have recently been selected for financing under the MEDA funded “Afkar” Programme of support to Lebanon’s civil society in the field of human rights, following a Call for Proposals launched by the European Commission Delegation in Beirut. Each project will receive around € 50,000 as the total amount earmarked for the Programme is € 750,000. Activities under the Afkar Programme (Arabic for “idea”) will include Training in Citizens’ Rights, Dialogue between communities, as well as Legal and Social Support for legally vulnerable groups. Contracts will be signed with the selected organisations in the course of January and it is envisaged to launch further similar initiatives in view of the large response to the Afkar Call for Proposals. Projects were submitted by 83 Lebanese organisations.
Brussels,01 10 2005