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Euromed News

DECISIONS

The EU Council on 24 February adopted a Decision authorising the Director of European Police Office Europol to initiate negotiations with Israel for agreements on fighting organised crime. The decision is fully in line with the European Neighbourhood Action Plan for Israel.

INITIATIVES

The European Commission on 2 March published Country Reports on Egypt and Lebanon that should form the basis for developing national Action Plans under the European Neighbourhood Policy. The Country Reports give a factual analysis of political, economic and institutional reforms in the countries concerned. The decision to negotiate Actions Plans with Egypt and Lebanon has already been taken by the EU Council, although for Lebanon the timing will depend on the evolution of the political situation. Action Plans have already been negotiated with Mediterranean Partners Israel, Jordan, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, and Tunisia. It should be underlined that in the Mediterranean region the European Neighbourhood Policy reinforces the Barcelona Process. The new Country Reports and the accompanying European Commission Communication are available on line at http://europa.eu.int/comm/world/enp/whatsnew_en.htm

MEETINGS

* The London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority and the latest meeting of the Quartet for Peace in the Middle East both took place on 1 March in the UK capital, with significant EU participation. The London Meeting brought together the members of the Quartet (EU, USA, Russia, UN), the G-8, a range of key international donors, and the Palestinian Authority. The EU was represented by Council President and Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, High Representative Javier Solana, and European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The event was chaired by UK Prime Minister Tony Blair. The Palestinian Authority presented proposals on state-building and capacity-building. The EU representatives present have underlined that the EU has been the biggest donor supporting the peace process and Palestinian preparations for statehood for over 10 years. Ms Ferrero-Waldner highlighted three priority areas: a well functioning judiciary; the Law on General Elections; and an anti-corruption task force for improving public financial management. Mr Asselborn’s speech is on line at http://www.eu2005.lu/en/actualites/discours/2005/03/0101ja_lond/index.html . Mr Solana’s speech is available from http://ue.eu.int/solana and Ms Ferrero-Waldner’s speech is on line at http://europa.eu.int/comm/commission_barroso/ferrero-waldner/index_en.htm . The Quartet issued a statement in which its members reaffirmed their “commitment to help Israelis and Palestinians make progress toward the two-state solution which is so deeply in both their interests”. The Quartet condemned the terrorist attack that occurred in Tel Aviv on 25 February and “stressed the need for further and sustained action by the Palestinian Authority to prevent acts of terrorism”. The Quartet encouraged “the two parties to continue on the path of direct dialogue and negotiation”. Quartet members agreed “on the need to ensure that a new Palestinian state is truly viable, including with contiguous territory in the West Bank”. The Quartet Statement is on line at http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm (click on « Council », right.)

* The President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, visited EU institutions in Brussels on 2 March on his way back from the London Meeting (see above). He was accompanied by several Ministers. Mr Abbas met European Council President and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, EU Council President and Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn, European Parliament President José Borrell, High Representative Javier Solana, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, and European Commissioner for External Relations Benita Ferrero-Waldner. Discussions focused on the aftermath of the meetings in London, and EU support to the Peace Process and Palestinian Authority reform. The European Commission expects to make up to € 250 million available in 2005 to support further steps towards the creation of a viable Palestinian state. Moreover, the Palestinian Authority is one of the five Mediterranean Partners with whom the European Commission has negotiated an Action Plan under the European Neighbourhood Policy.

* The Experts’ Committee of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) will hold its 3rd meeting on 7 and 8 March in Luxembourg. The meeting will focus on the way that FEMIP can support the modernisation of banking and financial markets in the Mediterranean Partners. The Experts will draw up practical recommendations to be discussed by Euro-Mediterranean Finance Ministers at their next meeting as FEMIP’s Ministerial Committee on 20 June in Morocco. FEMIP is managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB). http://www.eib.org

* Senior Officials of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership responsible for Political and Security Issues met on 28 February and 1 March in Brussels. A presentation was made by the MEDA funded Euro-Mediterranean network of Foreign Policy Institutes (EuroMeSCo) on 28 February of its report assessing 10 years of the Barcelona Process in fields related to the Political and Security Chapter. The report, drawn up at the request of Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers, invites all 35 partners to revisit the Partnership with a view to creating a Euro-Mediterranean Community of Democratic States, and to integrate the European Neighbourhood Policy into the Partnership. The report was generally welcomed, with Senior Officials stressing the central character of the Barcelona Process and restating the need for its deepening. Senior Officials on 1 March discussed a report by the ad hoc Group on Partnership Building Measures. They reiterated that preventing tsunamis in the Mediterranean had to be part of a global approach while underlining that pending an EU Council Decision progress can be made under the bridge project that follows on from the MEDA Regional Civil Protection pilot project. As regards Demining, progress was made on the programme for a future Euro-Mediterranean seminar. A presentation was made by the European Commission of bilateral and regional programmes in the field of Justice, Liberty and Security. Lastly, the Council Presidency informed of developments within the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), notably prospects for a seminar on crisis management.

* The Euro-Mediterranean Committee of the Barcelona Process met on 28 February and 1 March in Brussels. A presentation was made by the MEDA funded 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. Insufficient convergence between the region’s economies and demographic problems are highlighted in the report. Four lines of action are proposed: deepening reform; strengthening the role played by the private sector and civil society; improving the environment for investors; and developing research. FEMISE also stated the need for more significant financial support from the EU. Some of the criticism in the report was approved by a number of Mediterranean representatives while the EU pointed to steps already taken by means of signing Association Agreements, gradually establishing a Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area, and improving financial co-operation. On Migration, EU representatives generally recognised the need for a more positive approach on the European side. The presentation by the European Commission of activities carried out in the field of education has been postponed. The Committee then met as Board of Governors of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures. Preparations for the Foundation Launching Event on 20 April and a meeting of the National Networks on 18-19 April, both in Alexandria, were discussed. The idea of a Foundation label for Euro-Mediterranean intercultural events was also touched upon.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* SIGNING OF FIRST TWINNING CONTRACT IN MEDITERRANEAN REGION
The first twinning contract in the Mediterranean region will be signed on 5 March in Amman between the Jordan Food and Drugs Administration and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration. It concerns a partnership between the two public administrations aiming at “Reforming the Food Inspection Services and Food Chain Laboratories in Jordan” with a budget of € 1.9 million and duration of 22 months.
In a separate development, the Programme Administration Office responsible for the “Support Programme to the Implementation of the EU-Morocco Association Agreement” has launched three Calls for Proposals respectively for the “Development and implementation of legal, organisational and technological instruments aimed at improving trade movements at borders” in the field of Customs/External Trade, “Re-enforcing maritime safety and security” in the transport sector, and “Support to the Ministry of Land Management, Water and Environment for integrated Environment management, harmonisation of the national environmental legal framework and convergence with EU environmental legislation”. The aim is to conclude 3 twinning contracts with public administrations of EU Member States before the end of this year.

* GREENING THE OLIVE OIL PRESSING INDUSTRY IN LEBANON, JORDAN AND SYRIA
Integrated waste management will be introduced in the olive oil pressing industry in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria within a MEDA funded project due to start shortly. The 36 month project is part of the SMAP II Regional Programme (Short and Medium Term Environmental Action Programme), managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The aim is to reduce the significant impact on water quality of olive oil pressing residues through prevention, control and treatment measures; to provide training and technical assistance for stakeholders; and to set standards and limits to olive oil pressing industry effluents. The project should also develop a monitoring strategy to be adopted by the respective Environment Ministries, as well as financial and technical incentives, and awareness raising initiatives. Total allocation under MEDA is over € 1.7 million out of a total budget of nearly € 2.2 million. Overall project management and co-ordination are ensured by the Lebanon office of UNDP (United Nations Development Programme).

* WANTED: SMALL-SCALE PROJECTS ON DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN LEBANON
An amount of € 500,000 granted under the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office, will enable Lebanese NGOs to carry out local initiatives designed to promote democracy and Human Rights. The European Commission Delegation in Beirut on 24 February launched a Call for Proposals for micro-projects due to be awarded between € 50,000 and € 100,000 each. The main fields of action are Promotion and protection of civil and political rights; Reinforcement of inter-community dialogue; and Promotion, protection and respect of human rights of juvenile delinquents, prisoners, migrant workers, and refugees. The deadline for submitting proposals is 11 April. An information meeting will be held on 8 March in the premises of the European Commission Delegation in Beirut. The Guidelines for Applicants are available from the following web sites: http://www.dellbn.cec.eu.int and http://europa.eu.int/comm/europeaid/projects/eidhr/index_en.htm

PUBLICATIONS

* COMMISSIONER’S SPEECH ON EURO-MED NOW ON LINE
The speech on Euro-Mediterranean Relations delivered by European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner at the latest European Parliament plenary session (23 February) is now available on line at http://europa.eu.int/comm/commission_barroso/ferrero-waldner/index_en.htm

Brussels,03 07 2005
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