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Euromed News

Decisions

The European Commission has adopted a € 5 million aid package for Palestinians and is ready to deliver further humanitarian assistance for around € 1.7 million, European Commission President Romano Prodi and European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson announced on 8 April at a joint press conference. The € 5 million aid package is for refugees in camps in the Gaza Strip, and in Lebanon.

It includes provision of medical equipment, psychosocial assistance, and training, distribution of food and access to safe drinking water, as well as assistance to disabled people.

A € 1.7 million emergency package is currently being prepared by the EU's Humanitarian Office (ECHO). It would allow for the distribution of food and medicines in West Bank villages, in Gaza, and in the city of Jenin, and for sending doctors to re-occupied cities in the West Bank.

More information is available on the Commission website http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/news/index.htm .

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Meetings

· Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers will meet on 22 and 23 April in Valencia, Spain for the 5th Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference. The Official opening ceremony on 22 April will be the occasion for the signing of the EU-Algeria and EU-Lebanon Association Agreements. It will be followed by discussion of the Political and Security Chapter of the Draft Action Plan. The EU Troika will on 23 April hold separate meetings with the Arab Partners and with Israel. The Economic and Financial Chapter, and the Social, Cultural and Human Chapter of the Draft Action Plan will then be discussed. A closing ceremony will end the Conference.

· The Ministerial Conference will be preceded by meetings of Senior Officials responsible for Political and Security Issues and of the Euro-Mediterranean Committee on 21 April. Both meetings will aim to complete preparations made in Brussels by Senior Officials on 4 April, and by the Committee on 5 April. A number of issues remain to be resolved on the political and security aspects of the Draft Valencia Action Plan. The Committee discussed the Economic and Financial chapter, and the Social, Cultural and Human chapter of the Draft Action Plan. A framework document for the regional programme on Justice and Home Affairs was examined, and progress was made towards agreement on the programme in Valencia

· In a resolution adopted on 11 April the European Parliament (EP) gave its unreserved backing to the launch in Valencia of the proposed Action Plan to revitalise the Barcelona Process. The resolution is the Parliament's official position for the 5th Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference. The EP sees the Barcelona Process as providing crucial support for any solution to the Middle East conflict. The resolution is available on the web site http://www.europarl.eu.int

· The Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, Spain's Foreign Minister and President of the EU Council Josep Piqué, EU High Representative Javier Solana, United States Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Russia's Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov met in Madrid, Spain on 10 April. They adopted a 'Joint Statement on the escalating confrontation in the Middle East' available on the EU Presidency website http://www.ue2002.es/principal.asp?idioma=ingles.

The European Parliament on the same day adopted a Resolution on the Middle East calling for an arms embargo. Details are available on the Parliament's website
http://www.europarl.eu.int

· European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten on 9 April delivered a speech on the Situation in the Middle East at the European Parliament's Plenary Session in Strasbourg, France. The text is on the website http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/news/index.htm .

On the same website is the transcript of Mr Patten's comments on the same subject on 10 April in a radio interview. · The 4th Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Ministers for Industry took place on 9 and 10 April in Malaga, Spain. The meeting has again demonstrated the resilience of the Barcelona Process in the present very difficult context, and the importance that all partners attach to the continuation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Ministers have reaffirmed the key role of industrial co-operation in helping the Mediterranean Partners to make the most of the Free Trade Area to be established by 2010. The Conference stated that in the immediate future priority should be given to the implementation of three Regional MEDA funded Programmes (Investment promotion; Innovation, Technology and Quality or 'EURO-MED ITQ'; and Euro-Mediterranean Market Mechanisms or 'EURO-MED MARKET'). Ministers stressed the importance of harmonising the regulatory framework, fostering innovation and access to technology, attracting investment, and helping the creation and growth of SMEs. The next Euro-Med Conference of Industry Ministers will be held in 2004.

· The EU supported 7th Euro-Mediterranean Civil Forum will meet on 12 and 13 April in Valencia, Spain.

The meeting aims at restating the commitment of Euro-Mediterranean civil society to the Partnership, and at re-launching the Civil Forum itself which has been convened before each Euro-Mediterranean Foreign Ministers' Conference so far. A total of 13 working groups will cover the whole range of the Barcelona Process. Themes for discussion will include The Fight against Terrorism within the 'Human Rights, Democracy, and Role of the State' working group, Socio-economic rights within two different working groups, as well as Youth, Women, Volunteerism, Migrations, and the Environment. Around 500 people are expected to take part. More information is available on the web site http://www.fcevalencia2002.org .

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Projects and Programmes

- Mediterranean TV archives and cartoons at Cannes Trade Fair
The MEDA funded CAPMED network of Euro-Mediterranean TV archives will launch its web site during the MIP-TV trade fair to be held in Cannes, France from 15 to 19 April. Selections from fifty years of TV programmes from Mediterranean Partners will be made available to the general public as from 16 April through the website http://www.cap-med.net .

Over 5,000 TV documents accounting for some 4,000 hours of programmes will ultimately be fed into the CAPMED data base. Programmes cover fields as diverse as History, Science, Sports, Way of Life, and many others. The CAPMED project's newsletter will be put on the same website at the same time. CAPMED is one of six projects within MEDA's EUROMED AUDIOVISUAL Regional Programme. Another EUROMED AUDIOVISUAL project called EUROMEDIATOON-VIVA CARTHAGO will be presented on 16 April in Cannes. The project aims at setting up a cartoon studio in Tunis to make the first TV cartoons in the South Mediterranean not designed for advertising. The cartoon series will present Mediterranean history from the point of view of the 'South', and will be targeted at young people. In addition, a presentation on the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership's involvement in the audiovisual sector will be made by the European Commission's Head of Representation in Marseilles, Jacques Huchet.

- Reform and privatisation programme in Jordan
A financing agreement for implementing Jordan's Support for Regulatory Reform and Privatisation Programme (SRRP) will be signed on 14 April by the Jordanian Minister of National Economy and Minister of State Dr Mohammed Halaiqah , Minister of Planning Dr Bassem Awadallah, and the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Amman, James Moran. The SRRP will receive a € 20 million grant from MEDA for promoting regulatory reform and private-public partnership in such key sectors as telecommunications, energy, and civil aviation, and ultimately bringing about greater efficiency in service delivery. The SRRP is not part of the recently signed National Indicative Programme.

- Energy Training Seminar in Syria
The fifth in a series of 12 training seminars to be held in the framework of the MEDA funded 'Euro-Mediterranean Energy Policy Training Network' will take place from 14 to 18 April in Damascus, Syria. The seminar will be opened by Syria's Minister of Electricity Mounib Saem al Daher in the presence of the Head of the European Commission Delegation in Damascus, Marc Pierini, and will be hosted by the Syrian Ministry of Electricity, the local project partner. It will be attended by energy decision makers and experts from key stakeholders from the Syrian energy sector, including public and private sector representatives, and academics. Two major topics will be covered, namely Energy Policy and Markets (Electricity, gas, oil, renewables, environmental issues, and liberalisation), and Energy Projects' Economics and Financing (development, appraisal, financing, implementation, and operation). More information can be found on the website http://mednet.epu.ntua.gr

- A book on EU-Jordan Trade
A book entitled 'Origin and Preferences in the Foreign Trade of Jordan with the European Union' was officially launched on 10 April in Amman. The original English version was produced and funded by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation's Near East Regional Office, and the Arabic version was financed by the EU.

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