* A number of EU representatives expressed concern at the political situation in Lebanon over the last few days. During the European Parliament’s plenary session on 8 March in Strasbourg, Luxembourg Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs Nicolas Schmit stated that « the resignation of the Karame government… is creating a new situation and it is important to make the most of it ». He assured the European Parliament that the Council would do everything in its power to work towards a satisfactory solution to the problems in Lebanon. During the same session on the same day European Commissioner for Development Louis Michel stated on behalf of his colleague in charge of External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner : « It is important for the Lebanese parliamentary elections to take place as planned in May… We are examining the possibility of providing concrete election support… The Commission intends to send a technical mission to Lebanon very soon to assess what can be done ». Mr Michel reiterated that the EU attaches the utmost importance to the full implementation of UNSCR 1559 (calling for the withdrawal of foreign forces from Lebanon, editor’s note). EU High Representative Javier Solana on 6 March stated that the EU was waiting for that implementation. He said so again on 8 March in the presence of UNSG Special Envoy for Lebanon Terje Roed-Larsen, and on 9 March at a meeting with representatives of Lebanon’s parliamentary opposition. The EU Presidency statement is on line at http://www.eu2005.lu/fr/actualites/communiques/2005/03/0803scmitpe/index.php . Mr Michel’s speech is available from http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm (click on « Last 7 days », left) et Mr. Solana’s declarations can be found on http://ue.eu.int/solana .
* The first Plenary Session of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly will be held from 12 to 15 March in Cairo. There will first be a discussion of the report of each Committee (one for each Barcelona Chapter), followed by a vote. The reports will then be considered by the Assembly Bureau. The inaugural sitting will take place on 14 March. The opening address will be delivered by the Assembly President and President of the Egyptian Parliament, Ahmed Fathi Sorour. Statements on the Barcelona Process will be made by Luxembourg Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs Nicolas Schmit on behalf of the EU Council Presidency, EU High Representative Javier Solana, Secretary-General of the Arab League Amr Mousa, and a European Commission representative. A presentation will be made of a paper by the Tunisian Council of Deputies on Mediterranean Partners’ views regarding the European Strategy. The Committees’ final reports will be presented by the respective Chairpersons, and a statement will be made by the Director of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, Traugott Schöfthaler. The 15 March session will see a speech by Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit, adoption of the Final Resolution and Recommendations, and closing statements by European Parliament President Josep Borrell Fontelles and the President of the Euro-Mediterranean Assembly, Ahmed Fathi Sorour.
* The Experts’ Committee of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) meeting on 7 and 8 March in Luxembourg recommended a number of steps for modernising financial markets to FEMIP’s Ministerial Committee. Experts also stressed the need for close co-operation between the major political and economic actors in the Euro-Med area. Recommendations include developing and implementing sound regulatory and supervisory systems in financial sectors, improving the banking system’s competitiveness as well as product diversification, and developing local capital markets. The meeting was hosted by Luxembourg Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs Nicolas Schmit on behalf of the EU Presidency, and the Vice-President of the European Investment Bank in charge of FEMIP, Philippe de Fontaine Vive. http://eib.org .
* “Libya is invited to move towards formal relations with the EU, as a Mediterranean Partner and as a close Neighbour”, stated European Commission Vice-President in charge of Justice, Liberty and Security, Franco Frattini, in a speech on Health Professionals detained in Libya delivered on 9 March before the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “In this context”, he concluded, “the issue of the (Bulgarian and Palestinian) medical workers remains a serious difficulty … and needs to be brought to an acceptable end”. Mr Frattini was speaking on behalf of his colleague in charge of External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, Benita Ferrero-Waldner. The full text of the speech is available in English and Italian from http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm .
* The EU-Morocco Sub-Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries will hold its first meeting on 16 and 17 March in Rabat. The Sub-Committee will first look at its role in implementing the Neighbourhood Action Plan. The management of the provisions in the EU-Morocco Association Agreement regarding trade in agricultural, processed, and fisheries products will then be discussed. Moroccan and European Commission representatives will exchange information on trade in agricultural and processed products. An analysis of the tomato market will be presented by the Commission and Morocco. Lastly the Commission will inform Morocco of EU rules on withdrawing fruit and vegetables.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* 2004, A YEAR OF INNOVATION FOR FEMIP
New instruments of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) were created or implemented in 2004, as FEMIP lending to the Mediterranean Partners reached € 2.2 billion (see Euromed Synopsis No 303), according to the assessment outlined to the press on 4 March in Brussels by the Vice-President of the European Investment Bank in charge of FEMIP, Philippe de Fontaine Vive. The FEMIP Trust Fund was established in late 2004 with initial pledges of € 31.5 millions, and a grant of € 200,000 for a study on improving the efficiency of Mediterranean immigrant workers’ remittances was approved at the first donors’ meeting in January. In 2004, its first full year of operation, the FEMIP Technical Assistance Support Fund signed 20 contracts for a total of € 13.8 million in grants for studies on increasing the efficiency of investments in the environment, private sector, infrastructure, and human capital in the Mediterranean Partners. In addition, FEMIP in 2004 signed in Morocco its first social housing loan in the Mediterranean Region. http://www.eib.org .
* EURO-MEDITERRANEAN BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP CONVENTION IN MARSEILLES
Representatives of some 300 Mediterranean Businesses and 200 European Ones will convene from 15 to 17 March in Marseilles, France for a Business Partnership Convention which will involve the MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean Network of Investment Promotion Agencies (ANIMA Regional Programme), managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The event, called “Assises Méditerranéennes de l’International”, is organised by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Marseilles-Provence, and is covers Industrial Facilities, Health, Business Services, Agri-Food, Water, and Environment, sectors for which Forums will be held. In addition, cross-sector forums will address Financing of innovation, International Industrial Co-operation, and Innovation and Competitiveness. Stands will be made available for equipment and service providers to allow for individual meetings. The ANIMA team will help Mediterranean participants to select partner businesses. http://www.animaweb.org and http://www.amiconvention.com .
* ALGERIA, LEBANON AND SYRIA AGREE ON APPROXIMATION IN AUDITING AND ACCOUNTING
Algerian, Lebanese and Syrian representatives taking part in an intra-regional tailor-made seminar on Auditing and Accounting agreed on the need for approximation between legal provisions and administrative practices in the Mediterranean Partners and systems in force in the EU in this area. The seminar was held from 28 February to 3 March in Algiers 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 training in those fields is essential, both in the public and private sectors, and that training programmes already adopted should be implemented as soon as possible. The need to develop regular exchanges of information among auditing and accounting bodies and/or professionals was also underlined. http://www.euromedmarket.org
* 5TH TRAINING SEMINAR ON EU BASICS FOR MEDITERRANEAN CIVIL SERVANTS
The 5th Training Seminar on ‘EU Basics’ for Mediterranean Civil Servants will take place from 14 to 18 March as part of the MEDA funded ‘Training of Public Administrations’ Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. 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. Participants will be officials in Mediterranean Partners Ministries and other public bodies. The ‘Training of Public Administrations’ Programme is co-ordinated by the European Centre of the Regions of the European Institute of Public Administration. ‘EU Basics’ is one of four modules, the others being ‘EU Advanced’, ‘EU Programmes’, and ‘Train the Trainers’. Creating a network of training centres is also envisaged under the programme.
* ALGERIA, LEBANON, SYRIA AND CYPRUS WANT MORE CO-OPERATION ON COUNTERFEITING
Algerian, Lebanese, Syrian and Cypriot officials and private sector practitioners taking part in an Intra-Regional tailor-made Seminar on Customs Co-operation and Fight against Counterfeiting and Piracy stated that, although considerable efforts are being deployed by their respective administrations, co-operation between the European Commission, the customs administrations of EU Member States and those of the Mediterranean Partners is necessary to effectively fight counterfeiting and piracy in the Euro-Mediterranean area. Technical assistance could be provided by the European Commission on request. Participants also highlighted the need for co-operation between customs administrations and rights holders, as well as the importance of training in the field of counterfeiting and piracy. The Seminar was held from 7 to 10 March in Nicosia within the 2nd phase of the MEDA funded EuroMed Market Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. It included practical exercices at Larnaca Airport and the port of Limassol. http://www.euromedmarket.org
* € 1 MILLION FOR PROJECTS ON DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN EGYPT
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 Egyptian NGOs to carry out local initiatives designed to promote democratisation, Human Rights, and civil society. The European Commission Delegation in Cairo on 6 March launched a Call for Proposals for micro-projects due to be awarded between € 30,000 and € 100,000 each. The Call places emphasis on reinforcing initiatives by Egypt’s civil society, building ownership, and promoting mutual understanding between the EU and Egyptian civil society. The deadline for submitting proposals is 3 May. The Guidelines for Applicants are available from the following website http://www.eu-delegation.org.eg
* INTRA-REGIONAL SEMINAR ON COMPETITION
Algerian, Lebanese and Syrian officials and private sector practitioners will take part in an Intra-Regional tailor-made Seminar on Competition from 14 to 17 March in Damascus within the 2nd phase of the MEDA funded EuroMed Market Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. The Seminar aims to improve and update knowledge of the current EU legislative framework on competition, further develop bilateral and intra-regional administrative co-operation already established during the 1st phase of the Programme, and encourage exchanges of knowledge, experience and best practice. The opening session will include speeches by Syria’s Minister of Economy and Trade Amer Husni Lutfi, and the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Damascus, Frank Hesske. http://www.euromedmarket.org
* MEDITERRANEAN TRADITIONAL MUSIC AT CAIRO OPERA HOUSE
A Turkish Ensemble and a Greek one (Süleyman Erguner and En Chordais respectively) will play Mediterranean Traditional Music on 13 March at Cairo Opera House. The concert, entitled “On the Waves of the Mediterranean”, will take place within the MediMuses project, part of the MEDA funded Euromed Heritage Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office.
http://www.medimuses.gr et http://www.euromedheritage.net/resources/mediterranean_waves.pdf .
* COURSE IN MILITARY SITE RESTORATION
Experts in Architecture and Archaeology involved in restoring historic military sites in the Euro-Mediterranean area followed a course on the subject held on 2 and 3 March in Carthagena Spain, within the “Defence Systems on the Mediterranean Coast” project, part of the MEDA funded Euromed Heritage Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. Participants came from Algeria, Egypt, Syria, Greece, and Portugal. http://www.medanet.info/new_sidlim/espanyol/index.htm.
Brussels,03 14 2005