* European Commission President Romano Prodi on 23 January opened the first meeting of the High-Level Advisory Group on Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures, which is composed of 17 intellectuals from both shores of the Mediterranean. The Group has been set up by President Prodi to give new impetus to Euro-Mediterranean cultural dialogue. The speech delivered by the President at the opening is on the web in French at
* Greek Foreign Minister and President of the EU Council George Papandreou will visit Syria, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia from 2 to 4 February. Discussions with government ministers will include the Middle East Peace Process, and Iraq. Mr Papandreou is expected to visit Egypt, Israel, and the Palestinian Territories later in February.
* European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten will visit Lebanon at the end of a trip that will also take him to Turkey and Iran from 2 to 7 February. The situation in Iraq, as well as bilateral relations, are the focus of the trip. It will be the Commissioner's first visit to Lebanon, and will be highly significant as it takes place after Lebanon's ratification earlier this month of the Association Agreement with the EU. Mr Patten is expected to meet President Emile Lahoud, Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Foreign Minister Hammoud, and Economy and Finance Minister Basil Fuleihan, and Finance Minister Faouad Siniora. In Turkey Commissioner Patten will meet AK Party Chairman Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis, and he could meet Prime Minister Abdullah Gül. Issues to be discussed there include Euro-Mediterranean affairs.
* Senior Officials of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership responsible for Political and Security Issues will meet on 3 February in Brussels. This will be the first such meeting held under the Greek Presidency of the EU, and Greek representatives will present their priorities for the first half of 2003. Within political dialogue there will be a presentation on the European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP), and security issues will be discussed. The project of a Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly will also be addressed in advance of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Forum to be held in March in Crete, which is expected to agree on the establishment of the Assembly. Within the implementation of the Valencia Action Plan Senior Officials will discuss the state of play of partnership building measures.
* The Euro-Mediterranean Committee of the Barcelona Process will meet on 4 February in Brussels. There will first be a presentation of the new Greek Presidency's priorities. The Committee will then discuss how to improve its own working methods on the basis of a document put forward by Morocco. Within Dialogue between Cultures and Civilisations the future Euro-Mediterranean Foundation will be discussed (see also (above) the recent meeting of the High-Level Advisory Group on Dialogue between Peoples and Cultures opened by European Commission President Romano Prodi). The European Commission will inform the Committee on some Regional Programmes (Programme on Good Governance and the Rule of Law; Information and Communication Programme; and the extension of the Netd@ys and e-Schola programmes to the Mediterranean region). In addition, the Committee will be informed of the latest developments regarding the Agadir Process of setting up a free trade area between Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia. The Agadir Agreement was initialled recently, and is expected to be signed shortly.
* A Conference on the euro and the Mediterranean Region will take place on 3 and 4 February in Athens, Greece. A first session on 'The Euro, the Mediterranean, and the Gulf' will be chaired by European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pedro Solbes. The second session will address 'Financial Market Developments in the Mediterranean' under the chairmanship of Jordan's Finance Minister Dr Michel Marto. The third and last session will deal with 'The Euro as an International Currency'.
* The Euro-Mediterranean Network of Foreign Policy Institutes (EuroMeSCo) will hold its Annual Conference on 1 and 2 February in Malta. The main theme to be addressed will be EU Enlargement and the Southern Mediterranean. The meeting will be opened by Maltese President Guido de Marco, and closed by Malta's Foreign Minister Joe Borg.
* A UNIMED Business Network Seminar on 'Improving Employer Organisations' Ability to Communicate and Influence' will take place from 3 to 5 February in Athens, Greece. The Seminar aims at helping the Mediterranean Partners' employer organisations to improve communication and lobbying techniques. The Seminar is hosted by the Federation of Greek Industries at ALBA (Athens Laboratory of Business Administration). The programme includes presentations and case studies. UNIMED Business Network is a MEDA supported regional project managed by the Union of Industrial and Employers' Confederations of Europe (UNICE), and involving all 12 MEDA partners, aims at strengthening employer organisations in the Mediterranean Partners, and networking them with those of the EU.
* A meeting of NGOs to discuss the structure of Euro-Mediterranean Civil Forums will be held on 31 January and 1 February in Brussels. The meeting is organised by the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Network (EMHRN), and aims to discuss recommendations for better structuring the Civil Forum meetings and to improve the relationship between civil society and the official process of the partnership; it will also help to prepare the Civil Forum which is scheduled to take place in April in Greece. Tel +45 32 69 88 88.
* Representatives of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Relations (ECFA) met senior officials of the European Commission's Directorate General for External Relations on 21 January in Brussels. The ECFA is an NGO with a membership of diplomats, academics, journalists, and private citizens with a strong interest in and knowledge of international affairs. Discussions touched on the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, the EU's political and trade relations with Egypt, the Middle East Peace Process, and human rights and democracy policy.
* Two workshops took place on 14 and 15 January in Lebanon on the initiative of the European Commission Delegation in Beirut to improve contacts between students and business. They launched a process which aims to create a network linking young people with businesses, including a data base, and to launch research on employment, curricula, and careers.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* RECORD PAYMENTS FOR MEDA IN 2002
Last year was a record year for the MEDA Programme. Over € 675 million were paid out in 2002 within MEDA and all other assistance operations to the Mediterranean Partners (excluding humanitarian aid), as against € 476,5 million in 2001. The implementation rate stood at nearly 90%, which means that the rhythm of disbursements has now practically caught up with the rhythm of amounts being formally promised. Record figures were observed in some individual Partners, notably in Algeria (€ 46.1 million in 2002 up from € 5.5 million in 2001); in Jordan (€ 51.3 million as against € 17.2 million); in Morocco (€ 121.4 million as against € 59.4 million); and in Tunisia (€ 91.1 million in 2002 up from € 74 million in 2001). See forthcoming 'Euromed Special Feature' for more details.
* WORKSHOP ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS
A workshop on Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) will take place from 3 to 5 February in Madrid, Spain within the MEDA funded Regional Euro-Med Market Programme, which aims at helping the Mediterranean Partners prepare themselves for the future Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area. It will be the 4th in a series of 8 workshops designed to promote information and exchange of experience in the Euro-Med region. Presentations will be made on IPR issues including the Fight against Counterfeiting, Piracy and Commercial Fraud. Six specialised working groups will look at best practices in areas such as Copyright and related rights, and the European Patent. Finally the Programme Co-ordinators and the Partners' representatives will outline their priorities for the 2nd phase of Euromed Market. Participants will be national officials, judges, private sector staff, lawyers, and business organisations representatives. For more information: European Institute of Public Administration, European Centre for the Regions, tel. +34 93 567 24 00, fax +34 93 567 23 99.
* WORKSHOP ON EU-TUNISIA ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT
A Workshop will be held on 4 February in Tunis to mark the launch of the MEDA funded 'Accompanying Programme to the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement'. Participants will be Tunisian Ministry Officials, and representatives of EU Member States and the European Commission. Presentations will be made of the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement, of the Tunisian government's strategy for implementing it, and of EU support to that implementation. European Commission and EU Member States' representatives will share with participants their experience of twinning between EU and candidate countries'administrations. Harmonisation of regulations, standards, certification methods, the business environment, and the movement of people, goods and services in external trade will be discussed in parallel working groups. It will be the second in a series of workshops due to take place in, and organised in co-operation with various Mediterranean Partners (Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, and Lebanon) with whom such programmes will be implemented. Those meetings are designed to identify areas where assistance is needed, and agree on the type of support to be provided, the direct beneficiaries, and the implementing structures. Support will be provided by means of short term technical assistance, exchange of public expertise, as well as twinning projects.
* REMINDER - THE MEDA WEB SITE IS ON LINE
A MEDA web site was launched recently by the European Commission's EuropeAid Cooperation Office. It presents co-operation between the European Union and the Southern Mediterranean, Near and Middle East region, and includes information on MEDA funded bilateral and regional activities, as well as other important items such as financial statistics, sectors of co-operation, reports, and publications. Visit it and send us your feedback!
* REMINDER - EUROMED PUBLICATIONS SURVEY
You can help us improve this and other Euromed Publications. You only have to fill in the survey form you have received recently, and send it back to us by e-mail or fax. The survey form is also on the web at
Brussels,02 04 2003