The EU Council of Ministers on 23 May adopted a Decision authorising the signing and temporary implementation of a Protocol to the EU-Lebanon Interim Trade Agreement which adjusts the Agreement to take into account the accession of 10 new Member States to the EU in May 2004. Protocols of this kind need to be signed with all Mediterranean Partners with which the EU has concluded an Association Agreement or an Interim Agreement. Five such Protocols have been signed with Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia. The entry into force of the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement is expected soon.
* The VII Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference will be held on 30 and 31 May in Luxembourg. It will be an opportunity for assessing progress achieved so far within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership and discussing guidelines for the future, ahead of the special summit that will take place in late November in Barcelona on the 10th anniversary of the Process. The Conference will be chaired by the current EU Council President and Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn. It will bring together Foreign Ministers of Mediterranean Partners, EU Member States and candidate countries, as well as EU High Representative Javier Solana, and European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner. Two ‘troika’ meetings will take place on 30 May within the Conference, one with the Arab Group and the other with Israel. The EU Council meeting on 23-24 May took note of preparations made for the Conference and had an exchange of views. Senior Officials of the Partnership responsible for political and security issues and the Euro-Mediterranean Committee of the Barcelona Process will meet on 29 and 30 May respectively to complete preparations.
* The Middle East Peace Process, Palestinian parliamentary elections, and the situation in Lebanon, particularly the deployment of European observers ahead of the forthcoming parliamentary elections were discussed by EU Member States’ Foreign Ministers on 23 May over lunch. http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm (click on Council, right, then go to ‘Press’, top left).
* Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, travelled to Benghazi and Tripoli, Libya, on 24 and 25 May 2005. In talks with the highest authorities, including Colonel Muammar Khadafi and Libyan Prime Minister, Shokri Ghanem, she discussed how to advance EU-Libyan relations, including under the Barcelona Process, and raised the case of Bulgarian and Palestinian medical workers under sentence of death in Libya. The Commissioner’s trip has also been an opportunity to raise international awareness of the Benghazi AIDS tragedy. Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner explained to the Libyan side work underway to implement the EU-sponsored Action Plan in favour of those affected by HIV/AIDS in the country. She met children suffering from HIV/AIDS in Benghazi and their families, as well as Libyan medical personnel. She also visited the Bulgarian and Palestinian medical workers in their prison in Tripoli. These visits are the first ever by a high level EU representative. For more information: http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm
* European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson visited the West Bank and Israel on 19 May, as well as Jordan on 20 and 21 May. In a speech delivered on 19 May at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, he argued that trade can make an important contribution to stability in the Middle East, by creating the economic foundations for a durable peace. Mr Mandelson said the European Commission would like to see the EU’s PanEuro-Med system of cumulation of origin extended to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. He cited as an example the recently concluded Trade Agreement between Israel and Jordan which combines with the EU-Israel and EU-Jordan Association Agreements to allow PanEuro-Med cumulation of origin to be applied between the three partners. This means that goods produced partly in Israel and partly in Jordan will have free access to the EU market. An EU-Israel-Jordan trilateral declaration by Jordanian and Israeli Trade Ministers and the Commissioner was made to this effect on 20 May in the margins of the World Economic Forum on the Jordanian side of the Dead Sea. During the trip Mr Mandelson had meetings with members of the three Mediterranean Partners’ governments, including Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Trade and Industry Ehud Olmert, and Jordanian Minister of Industry and Trade Sharif Ali Zu’Bi. The full text of the Commissioner’s speech is on line at
http://europa.eu.int/comm/commission_barroso/mandelson/index_en.htm (click on ‘Speeches’).
* A number of European Commission representatives will be part of a core team of advisers to the recently appointed Special Quartet Envoy for Disengagement James D Wolfensohn on a mission scheduled to start on 1 June. The team will be based in Jerusalem, and the mission is expected to last until late 2005. The EU Council meeting on 25 April had welcomed the appointment of former World Bank President James D Wolfensohn as Quartet Envoy, and assured the EU was undertaking « to provide its political and practical support for the success of his mission ».
* The 18th MEDA funded Training Seminar for Euro-Mediterranean Diplomats will take place from 3 to 6 June in Malta with the aim of informing junior diplomats of the latest developments within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. A working session will be devoted to each of the three chapters of the Barcelona Process. http://euromed-seminars.org.mt
* The EU-Morocco Sub-Committee on Environment-Transport-Energy will hold its 2nd meeting on 31 May and 1 June in Rabat. On Environment, the Sub-Committee will look at EU and Moroccan policies, and Morocco’s situation in each sector. Regional and international environmental co-operation and environment mainstreaming will also be discussed. On Transport Morocco and the European Commission will inform each other of recent developments in their respective policies. Discussions will also address EU-Morocco negotiations on air transport, a twinning project on maritime security and safety, EU-Morocco relations as regards the GALILEO satellite communications programme, and Maghreb sub-regional co-operation. On Energy the meeting will touch on respective policies, notably the use of natural gas and renewable sources in Morocco, as well as the Maghreb electricity market.
* The EU-Tunisia Social Affairs Working Group will meet for the 3rd time on 26 and 27 May in Brussels. As regards Social Affairs proper, group members will have an exchange of views on employment and social policy, particularly gender equality, safety at work and fighting poverty, basic work standards, social dialogue, access to employment, and co-operation on social security. On Migration legal and illegal migration will be addressed, as well as transit migration, asylum policies and the issuance of visas. Lastly a first exchange of information on co-operation in public health matters will take place.
PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS
* EU ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION FOR PALESTINIAN LEGISLATIVE COUNCIL ELECTIONS
The European Commission on 23 May announced it would deploy in early June an EU Election Observation Mission for the elections to the Palestinian Legislative Council, currently scheduled for 17 July. The Mission will assess the whole election process, including the legal framework, the political environment and campaign, electoral preparations, voting and counting, as well as the post-election period. The Mission will be led by Véronique de Keyser, Member of the European Parliament, its Foreign Affairs Committee and its Delegations for Relations with the Mashrak countries. The Commission plans to deploy a total of some 175 observers, including a core team based in Ramallah and Gaza, long-term observers in the regions, and short-term observers who will arrive closer to the election day. The team will be complemented by an observer delegation from the European Parliament and observers from other countries. Some € 17 million have been allocated since 2003 to prepare the elections. Of these, € 3 million are destined for the EU Election Observation Mission. http://europa.eu.int/news/index_en.htm
* FIRST EURO-MEDITERRANEAN RISK CAPITAL SUMMIT
The first Euro-Mediterranean Risk Capital Summit takes place on 26-27 May in Lyons, France. The summit is organised by Siparex, the main private risk capital fund operating in the Mediterranean region, and it involves the MEDA funded ANIMA network of investment promotion agencies, part of a regional programme managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The summit aims at assessing the situation of risk capital in the Euro-Mediterranean region, and setting out the challenges and opportunities. Participants will also look at the prospects for North-South and South-South dissemination. The summit brings together public institutions, private investors, fund managers, science park and incubator representatives, as well as journalists. Speakers will include French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier, Egypt’s Investment Minister Mahmoud Mohieldin, Morocco’s Minister for Finance and Privatisation Fathallah Oualalou, and the Vice-President of the European Investment Bank in charge of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), Philippe de Fontaine Vive. http://www.animaweb.org
* ANNA LINDH EURO-MED FOUNDATION GETS LEGAL PERSONALITY
The Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue between Cultures, based in Alexandria, has had legal personality in Egypt since 23 May. This development creates the conditions for the Foundation to effectively receive funding, notably a € 5 million allocation from MEDA, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office.
* EGYPT COUNTRY PROFILE ON THE WEB
A 215 page economic, political and social overview of Egypt today has been published recently by the Economic Research Forum for Arab Countries, Iran and Turkey (ERF) under the MEDA funded FEMISE II Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office. The report is available as a single file from the web site of FEMISE, the Euro-Mediterranean Forum of Economic Institutes: http://www.femise.org/activites/pub_cp_f2.html Each chapter can also be accessed separately from the ERF web site: http://www.erf.org.eg/html/Country_Profile.asp
* EUROMED HERITAGE WEB SITE NOW ALSO IN ARABIC
The web site of the MEDA funded Euromed Heritage Regional Programme is now also available in Arabic: http://www.euromedheritage.net/ar Euromed Heritage, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office, has since 1998 been helping to preserve and promote various aspects of the Mediterranean cultural heritage.
* 10TH “JAZZ AUX OUDAYAS” FESTIVAL IN RABAT
The 10th edition of the now famous “Jazz aux Oudayas” Festival will be held from 27 to 31 May in Rabat. The event is organised by the European Commission Delegation in Morocco and the embassies and cultural institutes of EU Member States, in partnership with Morocco’s Ministry of Culture and the Rabat-Salé district. The Festival will once more be an opportunity for encounters between European jazz musicians and Moroccan artists. Musicians from 12 EU Member States are on the bill, and a special slot has been reserved for young Moroccan musicians. The proceeds will go towards Moroccan NGOs. http://www.delmar.cec.eu.int
Brussels,05 30 2005