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The arrangement on Rules of Origin agreed by the EU-Israel Customs Co-operation Committee last December will apply as from 1 February. According to the notice to importers published in the EU’s Official Journal of 25 January, “all movement certificates … and invoice declarations made out in Israel will bear … the name of the city, village or industrial zone where production conferring originating status has taken place”. Preferential treatment under the EU-Israel Association Agreement “will be refused to the goods for which the proof of origin indicates that the production conferring originating status has taken place in a city, village or industrial zone which is brought under Israeli Administration since 1967”, in other words, in the occupied areas of the Golan, East Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, which the EU regards as not falling under the geographical applicability of its Association Agreement with Israel. The notice replaces a text published in the EU’s Official Journal No C 328 of 23 November 2001.


* The EU Council meeting on 24 January in Brussels took note of the priorities outlined by Luxembourg, which holds the EU Presidency in the 1st half of 2005, as regards implementation of the EU strategy towards the Mediterranean region. The priorities include consolidating the achievements of the Barcelona Process and taking forward the spirit of partnership with the Mediterranean Partners through a deepening of the Neighbourhood Policy.

* As part of his visit to the Middle East, EU Council President and Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn on 20 January met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Foreign Minister Nabeel Shaath in Gaza. Mr Asselborn has invited President Abbas to the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council of 21 February in Brussels. At a press conference following his meetings in Gaza, the EU Council President congratulated “the Palestinian people on the successful conduct of the Presidential elections” and said “Palestinians must… fully renounce violence and whole-heartedly pursue the political path”. “The EU stands ready to assist you”, he went on, “lending political, financial and technical support. … The EU has allocated approximately € 250 million in 2004 and will provide a similar amount in 2005”. The full text of the statement is on line at http://www.eu2005.lu/en/actualites/communiques/2005/01/20ja-po-il/index.html Mr Asselborn on the same day delivered a speech at the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya, Israel on “The European Union as an external actor”. The text is on line at http://www.eu2005.lu/en/index.html .

* The Political Committee of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) met on 25 January in Brussels under the Chairmanship of Ms Tokia Saifi in the presence of EMPA President Fathi Sorour. The Committee discussed a proposal to set up an early warning system for earthquakes and tidal waves in the Mediterrranean, put forward by European Parliament (EP) Vice-President Antonios Trakatellis and the President of the Development and Co-operation Committee, Luisa Morgantini (see also p. 2). A report on Palestinian elections by EP Vice-President and leader of the EP delegation there was also discussed. In addition, the Commitee announced that a report on the Barcelona Process would be prepared. In a speech to the EMPA Political Committee, European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner reaffirmed the central role of the Barcelona Process, as specified and enhanced by the European Neighbourhood Policy, in Euro-Mediterranean relations. She also stated that the EMPA is “the institution which best embodies the Barcelona Process’ objective of creating an area of political stability and democracy in the Euro-Med area”. “We should bring the partnership closer to our citizens’ concerns”, she added. The text of the speech is on line at http://europa.eu.int/comm/commission_barroso/ferrero-waldner/index_en.htm

* In her remarks to the European Parliament Foreign Affairs Committee on 25 January in Brussels, Ms Ferrero-Waldner stated that “The process and outcome of the Palestinian elections was very encouraging”. She added: “We will also need to work with both the new Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority on creating the conditions for a successful Gaza disengagement”. The commissioner also reiterated that the European Neighbourhood Policy is one of her priorities. The text of the speech is on line at http://europa.eu.int/comm/commission_barroso/ferrero-waldner/index_en.htm .

* The EU-Tunisia Association Council will hold its 5th meeting on 31 January in Brussels. The meeting will start with a discussion of present and future EU-Tunisia relations under the Association Agreement. There will then be an exchange of views on the Neighbourhood Action Plan for Tunisia, proposed by the European Commission last December. This will be followed by Political Dialogue on subjects of common interest.

* Senior Officials of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership responsible for Political and Security Issues met on 26 January in Brussels. A presentation was made of the priorities of the Luxembourg EU Presidency on the first Chapter of the Barcelona Process, and it was underlined that this Process remains central to relations between the EU and the Mediterranean Partners. Senior Officials then discussed the relation between Barcelona and the Strategic Partnership for the Mediterranean and the Middle East. There was agreement on the relevance of consulting Partners in this respect. Participants stressed that opportunities for a more favourable development of the Peace Process had been opened by Palestinian elections. As regards preparations for the 10th Anniversary of the Barcelona Process, the European Commission announced it was preparing a Communication for the coming spring. Ahead of the 9 February meeting of the Ad Hoc Group on Disaster Prevention and in the light of lessons to be learnt from the tsunami that hit South Asia, a consensus emerged on the need to look at the possibility of setting up a Mediterranean early warning system. Lastly Senior Officials came out in favour of intensifying contacts with the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly.

* The Euro-Mediterranean Committee of the Barcelona Process met on 26 and 27 January in Brussels. A presentation was made of the priorities of the Luxembourg EU Presidency on the Economic/Financial and the Social/Cultural/Human Chapters of the Barcelona Process. On preparations for the 10th Anniversary of the Barcelona Process, ways to improve the visibility of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership were discussed at length. In addition, in its capacity as Board of Governors of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, the Committee discussed the future appointment of the Foundations’s President and Vice-President. A presentation was made of the Foundation’s Work Programme for 2005 by its Director, Traugott Schöfthaler. The Committee then approved the Programme and the budget. Finally, it was indicated that the Foundation’s Inaugural Session would be held on 20 April.

* The Working Party on Euro-Mediterranean Industrial Co-operation will meet on 1 and 2 February in Brussels. The implementation monitoring process for the Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Enterprise will first be looked at. Expert groups should be set up to facilitate exchange of best practices. Presentations will be made by the European Commission of a document on Euro-Mediterranean Industrial Co-operation, the state of play of relevant ongoing MEDA regional programmes (Euro-Med Market, ANIMA, Euro-Med Quality, Euro-Med Innovation, UNIMED, and SMEs Co-operation), and activities related to the future of the textile and clothing industry. Creating a regional agency for investment promotion will be proposed by Cyprus. A report on implementation of the Palermo Action Plan for the free movement of industrial products will be presented. A session will be devoted to the Future of assistance for Private Sector Development, and the Party’s working methods will be discussed.

New approaches to enhancing and managing Mediterranean cultural heritage will be applied within two new MEDA funded projects, ‘Qantara’ (Arabic for “bridge”) and ‘Byzantium Early Islam’, launched this January as part of the Euromed Heritage III Regional Programme. ‘Qantara-Mediterranean Heritage: Crossings between East and West’ aims at creating a data base of symbolic elements of the Mediterranean cultural and artistic heritage to highlight both shared identities and individual characteristics. The 3-year project is also expected to organise a travelling exhibition and to disseminate information in various formats. The € 3.6 million project is co-ordinated by the Paris-based Arab World Institute and involves Culture Ministries and other bodies in Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Spain. The Byzantium Early Islam project’s sub-title is “Integrated multidisciplinary approach for a better knowledge and safeguard of Byzantine and Islamic cultural heritage”. The € 1.2 million project will help provide further training for heritage specialists. Modern technology will be applied to research and the production of inventories. Print and electronic publications will raise awareness of cultural heritage among the general public, especially young people. The project will run for 3 years, and is co-ordinated by the Hellenic Society for the Protection of the Environment and Cultural Heritage in Thessaloniki. Academic and cultural institutions in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Cyprus, Greece, and Italy are involved. http://www.euromedheritage.net

Senior Israeli and Palestinian Officials/Executives of the Energy sector and European Commission representatives will try to identify the steps to create a sub-regional market for electricity and gas at a workshop scheduled for 30 January and 1st February in Weilrod near Frankfurt, Germany as part of the MEDA funded ‘Reform of the Legal and Institutional Energy Sector Framework’ regional project, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The workshop is the 3rd in a series of sub-regional meetings. It also aims to identify the steps to merge the Israeli-Palestinian market into a wider regional market, as well as the support required from the EU to make both projects a reality. The Energy Reform project is co-ordinated by the DECON company.

Two Training Seminars for Mediterranean Civil Servants will take place from 31 January to 4 February as part of the MEDA funded ‘Training of Public Administrations’ Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. One is the 4th “EU-Basics” course. It will be held in Brussels and will address the Origins and Evolution of the EU, the EU Institutions and Decision-making Process, EU Policies and Law, as well as Key aspects of the Euro-Mediterranean Process, and the MEDA Programme. The other, the 2nd ‘Train the Trainers’ Seminar, will take place in Barcelona, Spain and will be devoted to the identification of training needs and the development of training plans and capacities. Participants will be senior managers and officials in training institutes and authorities responsible for human resources. The ‘Training of Public Administrations’ Programme is co-ordinated by the Barcelona antenna of the European Institute of Public Administration. ‘EU Basics’ and ‘Train the Trainers’ are two of four modules, the others being ‘EU Advanced’ and ‘EU Programmes’. Creating a network of training centres is also envisaged under the programme.

Algerian, Lebanese and Syrian representatives taking part in an intra-regional tailor-made seminar on Pan-Euro-Mediterranean Rules of Origin stated it is necessary to adopt the Pan-Euro-Med Protocols on rules of origin as soon as possible in the framework of the respective Association Agreements with the EU, and the agreements with the other Pan-Euro-Mediterranean Partners. The seminar was held from 17 to 19 January in Beirut as part of phase II of the MEDA funded Euro-Med Market Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. Participants also stated that the Training, Information and Awareness Raising Programmes on Rules of Origin should be implemented as soon as possible. http://www.euromedmarket.org


Six studies have just been posted on the web by ANIMA, the MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean Network of Investment Promotion Agencies as part of the ANIMA Regional Programme managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. They are “Investors’ perception of the MEDA region”; “Attractiveness Scoreboard of MEDA countries, Towards an Investment Charter”; “The impact on Europe of De-location to Mediterranean countries” (in French only); “The cosmetics sector in the Euro-Mediterranean region”; “The automotive sector in the Euro-Mediterranean region”; and “Call centers and shared service centres in the Euro-Mediterranean region”. http://www.animaweb.org (go to “Documents”).


The first EU Film Festival will be held in Cairo from 30 January to 10 February and in Alexandria from 12 to 23 February. It is organised by film critic Samir Farid with support from the European Commission Delegation in Egypt and EU Member States Embassies. Twenty very recent films from 20 EU countries will be screened, some of them by well-known directors such as the UK’s Ken Loach, France’s François Dupeyron, Poland’s Krzystof Zanussi, and Portugal’s Manoel de Oliveira. The programme is on line at http://www.eu-delegation.org.eg/en/News/70.asp.

Brussels,01 31 2005
European Union
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