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French Version

Euromed News

DECISIONS

The EU Council on 21 February adopted decisions on the positions to be adopted by the EU within the Association Councils with Israel, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia, as well as the EU-Palestinian Authority Joint Committee, with a view to implementing Action Plans under the EU Neighbourhood Policy with those five Mediterrranean Partners. The Action Plans were proposed by the European Commission last December to put forward concrete steps aimed at improving implementation of the Association Agreement and to provide a wider framework for relations between the EU and the Mediterranean Partners. The Neighbourhood Policy in the Mediterranean region reinforces the Barcelona Process.

MEETINGS

* The EU Council meeting on 21 February in Brussels adopted conclusions on the recent attack caaried out in Beirut and the Middle East Peace Process. The Council “firmly condemns the despicable attack which cost the life of the former President of the Council of Ministers of Lebanon, Mr Rafic Hariri, and of at least fourteen other people”. The Council came out in favour of an international enquiry and “has agreed to remain vigilant so that the forthcoming parliamentary elections in Lebanon may be held in accordance with a free and fair electoral process”. On the Middle East Peace Process, the Council “congratulate Prime Minister Sharon and President Abbas on the courageous decisions which they took” during the 8 February Sharm el-Sheikh Summit. The Council “undertakes to support the parties in their efforts to continue to work towards progress in the peace process”. Lastly, the Council “urges all sides in the region to immediately implement policies conducive to dialogue and negotiation. The EU’s relationship with those who take steps to the contrary will inevitably be affected by such behaviour”. Both statements are on line: http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm (click on « Council », right.)

* The European Parliament (EP) on 23 February adopted a joint resolution on EU relations with the Mediterranean region. Parliament “calls on the Council and Commission to make a renewed effort to enhance democracy and contribute and promote the necessary political, economic and social reforms in the Mediterranean countries”. Parliament “calls on Syria to withdraw its troops from the Lebanon immediately, as stated in the relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions”. In addition, the European Parliament “expresses its satisfaction at the increasing and considerable improvement in the performance of the MEDA funds”. The text will soon be available on Parliament’s web site: http://www.europarl.eu.int/press/index_en.htm .

* European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbouring Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner on 23 February made a speech in Strasbourg during the EP debate on Euro-Mediterranean relations. The Commissioner stressed the importance of the Neighbourhood Policy for reinforcing the Barcelona Process. She mentioned the situation in Lebanon after the murder of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, the 10th anniversary of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, and the Middle East Peace Process.

* Senior Officials of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership responsible for Political and Security Issues will meet on 28 February and 1 March in Brussels. A presentation will be made by the MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean network of Foreign Policy Institutes (EuroMeSCo) on 28 February of its report assessing 10 years of Barcelona in fields related to the Political and Security Chapter. The report was drawn up at the request of Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers. There will then be an exchange of views on the assessment. Senior Officials on 1 March will discuss a report on the ad hoc Group on Partnership Building Measures. They will also be informed of developments within the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP).

* The Euro-Mediterranean Committee of the Barcelona Process will meet on 28 February and 1 March in Brussels. A presentation will be made by the MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean Network of Economic Institutes (FEMISE) of their report assessing economic aspects of the Barcelona Process, following a request from Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers for the Partnership’s 10th anniversary. The European Commission on 1 March will inform the Committee of activities carried out on education. Lastly, the Committee will review past and future activities under the Partnership. The Committee will then meet as Board of Governors of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures. Presentations will be made of two reports, one by the Presidency, the other by the Executive Director. In addition, draft rules of procedures will be discussed.

* Exploratory talks between European Commission representatives and Algerian Ministry officials were held from 14 to 18 February in Algiers as part of preparations for EU-Algeria Economic Dialogue. Discussions have shown the Algerian representatives’ readiness to reach closer co-operation with the EU, notably for implementing the Association Agreement to help the reform process initiated by Algeria. It also emerged that the political momentum must lead to practical action, with a view in particular to implementing the Association Agreement.

* The EU-Morocco ‘Justice and Security’ Sub-Committee will hold its 2nd meeting on 25 February in Rabat. A presentation will be made by the Luxembourg Presidency of the EU Programme 2005-2010 on Justice/Liberty/Security adopted by the European Council last November. The Sub-Committee will then look at how to implement the Neighbourhood Action Plan in the same area. A vast array of specific issues will be discussed in the light of on-going activities, notably under MEDA, and new possibilities to be examined. This includes Modernising the judiciary, Fighting corruption, Co-operation in the fight against terrorism and organised crime, Drugs, Money laundering and Financial crime, and Judicial co-operation. Lastly a presentation will be made by the European Commission of the state of play of the Regional MEDA Programme on Justice, Police and Migration.

* The EU-Tunisia Sub-Committee on Industry, Trade and Services will meet on 1 March in Tunis. An introduction on the Neighbourhood Action Plan will be followed by a discussion of the impact on SMEs of implementation of the Association Agreement, and implementation in Tunisia of the recently adopted Euro-Mediterranean Enterprise Charter. The competitiveness of the textile/apparel industry will be discussed, with reference to on-going activities under MEDA. A number of trade issues will be addressed, including trade preferences applied by both sides, implementation of pan-Euro-Mediterranean cumulation of origin, preparations for negotiations on liberalising trade in services, and tariff dismantling. Approximation of legislation on standards and technical regulations is also on the agenda, as well as promoting investment.

* The European Parliament Delegation to the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly met on 23 February in Strasbourg to prepare for the Assembly’s first Plenary Session scheduled for 12-15 March in Cairo. The Delegation assessed on-going work by the Assembly’s three Committees (one for each Chapter of Barcelona), and a presentation was made of the Plenary Session’s agenda.

* The Euro-Mediterranean Youth Platform will hold its 3rd Targeted Meeting from 25 to 28 February in Gammarth near Tunis. The event is aimed at increasing the participation of young people from EU countries least present in Euro-Mediterranean youth activities. Youth leaders from those countries and Mediterranean Partners will exchange experiences on the situation of young people and youth organisations in each other’s countries. They will discuss available opportunities for co-operation, and have a chance to foster partnerships and initiate projects. The Euro-Mediterranean Youth Platform was launched in 2003 with support from the European Commission with the aim of facilitating networking between youth organisations across the Mediterranean. More on http://www.euromedp.org .

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* GUIDELINES AND TIMETABLE PROPOSED FOR ENERGY FREE TRADE AREA
Regional and national guidelines for a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area in Energy and a time table starting in April 2005 have been presented and discussed at the Final Seminar for the MEDA funded “Reform of the Legal and Institutional Energy Sector Framework” project, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The Seminar was held from 15 to 17 February in Salzburg, Austria, and it brought together representatives of nearly all Mediterranean Partners, the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, and the World Bank. The Regional Road Map or guidelines addresses regional market issues for electricity, gas and oil, links with the EU, as well as technical and technical assistance requirements. The National Road Maps for the 10 Mediterranean Partners cover Electricity, Gas, Oil and Upstream Hydrocarbons. A Final Report will be prepared on the basis of Seminar discussions. The Energy Reform project was carried out by a consortium co-ordinated by Germany’s Decon company (Deutsche Energie Consult).

* 1ST EUMEDIS CONFERENCE WILL PUT EURO-MED INFORMATION SOCIETY IN THE LIMELIGHT
The first International Conference for the MEDA funded EUMEDIS Regional Programme (Euro-Mediterranean Information Society), managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office, will take place on 17 and 18 April in Jordan, on the banks of the Dead Sea. This will allow programme partners and other interested parties to take stock of results and look to future developments. Achievements of EUMEDIS projects will be displayed in a specific exhibition area. The Conference will be organised by EuropeAid, with support from the European Commission Delegations in Jordan and Egypt, and it will be managed by Kantor EUMEDIS MDP (EUMEDIS Regional Monitoring and Support Unit). Persons and organisations wishing to take part should contact Francesco Badioli (tel.: +32 2 235 20 52, e-mail: fb@kantor.eumedis-mdp.net). http://www.eumedis.net

* € 3 MILLION UNDER MEDA FOR AGADIR’S TECHNICAL UNIT IN AMMAN
A € 3 million technical assistance contract has been signed by the EU on 17 February in Amman with a UK-based consultancy firm for the setting up in the Jordanian capital of a technical unit in charge of managing the Agadir Agreement establishing free trade between Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia. The contract is part of a € 4 million amount granted under MEDA by the European Commission Delegation in Amman to Jordan’s Ministry of Planning and International Co-operation to help implement the Agadir Agreement.

MISCELLANEOUS

* SIMULATION OF EU AND INTERNATIONAL BODIES IN CAIRO
Some 300 students from Egypt’s major universities and some European higher education institutions will from 1st to 5 March take part in simulations of 5 EU and international bodies, notably the EU Council and the European Parliament sub-committees on

Brussels,02 28 2005
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