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Euromed News

DECISIONS

The EU Council of Ministers on 16 March adopted a Decision authorising the signing and temporary implementation of a Protocol to the EU-Morocco Association Agreement which adjusts the Agreement to take into account the accession of 10 new Member States to the EU last May. This is the fourth in a series of Protocols that need to be signed with Mediterranean Partners with which the EU has concluded an Association Agreement. Protocols regarding Egypt, Israel and Jordan have been already approved.

MEETINGS

* « I have asked the Palestinians and the Israelis to write me a joint letter on their needs for the very short term », Luxembourg Prime Minister and European Council President Jean-Claude Juncker announced on 14 March in Luxembourg. « If we receive this first joint letter, the European Union will have given birth to an event that would have been unthinkable just a few months earlier ». Mr Juncker was answering questions from the chairpersons of the Foreign Affairs Committees of national Parliaments of EU Member States and Candidate Countries. On the situation in Lebanon and Syria, the European Council President stated that « pressure on Syria must continue for there to be a complete withdrawal of the army and secret services”. During the same meeting, Luxembourg Foreign Minister and EU Council President Jean Asselborn delivered a speech on the Neighbourhood Policy, in which he emphasised that “all the measures foreseen in the action plans are strictly made within the framework of the agreements currently in place (the Association Agreements); the action plans are aimed at making the Agreements more effective”. Mr Juncker’s statements and Mr Asselborn’s speech are available from the respective web addresses:
http://www.eu2005.lu/fr/actualites/communiques/2005/03/14jcjneumunster/index.html et http://www.eu2005.lu/fr/actualites/discours/2005/03/14jauparl/index.html .

* The first Plenary Session of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA) was held from 12 to 15 March in Cairo. Delegations from the Mediterranean Partners’ Parliaments, the Parliaments of EU Member States, and the European Parliament emphasised the centrality of the Barcelona Process as the main instrument for partnership and dialogue between the Euro-Mediterranean Partners. In their Final Declaration, they welcomed the progress made in developing the European Neighbourhood Policy as a policy to enhance the Barcelona Process, provided it does not eclipse either the principles (equality; co-responsibility; mutual respect; solidarity; and co-operation) of the multilateral framework of Barcelona. Parliamentarians underlined the principle of co-ownership of the Barcelona Process. They called on the EU to play a more pronounced political role in the peaceful settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict. They also called for all means to be used to facilitate European direct investment in the Mediterranean region. In addition, participants called on the EMPA Committees to examine the proposal for setting up a civil protection mechanism including an early warning system, as well as that of a working group on the issue of mines in the region. The Assembly endorsed the setting up of a working party on the Middle East conflict, as proposed by the Political Committee. The Plenary Session was chaired by the President of EMPA and the Egyptian People’s Assembly, Ahmed Fathi Sorour who delivered the opening speech. Luxembourg Minister Delegate for Foreign Affairs Nicolas Schmit stated in his address on behalf of the EU Council Presidency that the Barcelona Declaration “remains a fundamental document due to its enduring relevance and its huge potential”, and he called the partners to “create the bases for a true Euro-Mediterranean community”. European Commission Vice-President in charge of Institutional Relations and Communication Strategy, Margot Wallström, focused on the European Neighbourhood Policy, insisting that it “complements the Barcelona Process” and “has general objectives which are similar to those of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership”. She reiterated that “the Barcelona Process remains key to relations between the EU and the southern Mediterranean”, adding that the Neighbourhood Policy does not replace it, but “adds to it and makes things happen”. The Assembly also heard a presentation by the Executive Director of the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for Dialogue between Cultures, Traugott Schöfthaler, on the Foundation’s programme and objectives, as well as the need to pool the 35 national networks to achieve those aims. Mr Schmit’s speech is on line at http://www.eu2005.lu/fr/actualites/discours/2005/03/14nscaire/index.html .

* At the end of the first morning’s discussions on 12 March, parliamentarians were pleased to learn of the release of Dr Nour, Member of the Egyptian Parliament, President of the al-Ghad (tomorrow) party and a candidate in the presidential elections, who had been imprisoned. Eight members of the European Parliament delegation met him on 14 March.

* European Parliament President Josep Borrell Fontelles had talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the same day. At the end of the Plenary Session, Mr Borrell took over the Presidency of EMPA for a year. In his closing speech, he said that he wished to organise an extraordinary session of EMPA as close as possible to the heart of peace negotiations. The next ordinary session is due to take place in Brussels.

* The European Parliament on 10 March and the EU Council on 16 March called for the withdrawal of Syrian troops and of its intelligence services from Lebanon, in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1559. Parliament’s resolution and the Council’s conclusions both stress the importance of free, democratic and transparent parliamentary elections in Lebanon. Parliament and Council call for every effort to be made to ascertain the causes and circumstances of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri. Parliament’s resolution is on line at http://europarl.eu.int and the Council conclusions are available from http://europa.eu.int/news_index.htm (go to Council, right, then click on Press, left).

* A memorandum of understanding with the European Commission for Israeli-Palestinian co-operation in the field of transport was signed on 9 March by Palestinian Authority Transport Minister Saad Kharma, and an identical memorandum was signed on 14 March by Israeli Director General of the Transport Ministry Ben Zion Salman. Both texts were signed in the presence of a European Commission representative. The memoranda call for the establishment of a Joint Technical Israeli-Palestinian Transport Office (JTO), which would co-ordinate co-operation on the planning of infrastructure and related issues such as the efficient transport of people and goods. A detailed work programme for the JTO should now be prepared, which could be endorsed by the Israeli and Palestinian Ministers at the first Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Meeting on Transport next December. Technical assistance to the JTO and feasibility studies for projects of mutual interest could be funded under MEDA in the framework of the European Neighbourhood Policy.

* The European Parliament Delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council met on 15 March in Brussels. There was an exchange of views on the London Conference and the situation in the Palestinian Territories after the Presidential elections, in the presence of Palestinian General Delegate Chawki Armali.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* SEMINAR ON WATER IN THE EURO-MED REGION
Industrialists, representatives of local authorities, and experts met from 15 to 17 March in Marseilles to discuss the challenge of water for the Euro-Mediterranean region at the Hydrotop Scientific and Technical Seminar organised in partnership with the MEDA supported Euro-Mediterranean Water Information System (EMWIS), part of the MEDA Water Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. A presentation was made of the 9 MEDA Water projects by an EMWIS representative at the Seminar on 15 March. http://www.semide.org and http://www.hydrotop.com

* MEDITERRANEAN ARTS & CRAFTS ON DISPLAY IN ALGIERS
Works by independent craftspeople, associations and co-operatives will be exhibited from 30 March to 15 April in Algiers as a new leg of the ‘Prints and Colours of the Mediterranean’ travelling exhibition staged under the MEDA funded PRODECOM project, part of the Euromed Heritage Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The PRODECOM project aims at promoting arts & crafts products produced as a result of development projects, notably by means of a label currently being launched (“Produits culturels de développement”®). It is co-ordinated by the Paris Chamber of Mediterranean Fine Arts. http://www.chbeauxarts-prodecom.org .

PUBLICATIONS

* THE ANNA LINDH FOUNDATION FOR THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN CULTURES IS ON LINE
The Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures is now on line. The new web site presents the Foundation, its networks and activities. http://www.euromedalex.org .

* TWINNINGS AND CARTHAGE IN THE LATEST MAGAZINE FROM TUNIS
How can twinnings of administrations contribute to the implementation of the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement? A feature in the latest issue (1st quarter of 2005) of “Europa”, the magazine published by the European Commission Tunis Delegation says it all. In the same issue is an assessment of EU-Tunisia co-operation in 2004 (€ 75.8 million paid out), as well as an interview of Tunisian writer Abdelaziz Belkhodja on why the values of ancient Carthage can inspire the country today. http://www.deltun.cec.eu.int .

Brussels,03 21 2005
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