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DECISIONS

* The European Investment Bank on 5 and 7 July announced it was granting a € 60 million loan for new roads in Lebanon and a € 50 million loan for clean energy gas supplies in Egypt respectively, both under the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). The loan to Lebanon covers the construction of the 11 km Taanayel-Masnaa section on the road between Beirut and Damascus, and the 6 km Tripoli West Ring Road. The implementation of the road project works will be supported through a 3-year technical assistance programme extended under the FEMIP Technical Assistance Fund. The loan to the Egyptian Natural Gas Company covers two gas pipelines of a combined length of 152 km. The pipelines form part of the national gas transmission system that transports natural gas from Egyptian gas production fields to destinations throughout the country. More at http://eib.eu.int/news/press/

MEETINGS

* European Parliament President Josep Borrell Fontelles visited Israel and the Palestinian Territories from 26 to 30 June at the invitation of the Israeli Knesset and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC). Disengagement from Gaza was at the heart of most meetings he had with Palestinian and Israeli personalities. Mr Borrell stated “The cohesion and stability of our European societies are inseparable from peace in the Middle East” in his speech to the Knesset, and “the Palestinian question is also a domestic policy question in Europe” in his address to the PLC. Before both parliamentary assemblies he said disengagement from Gaza should be a first step, and he mentioned the idea of holding an extra-ordinary meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, which he currently chairs, in the Palestinian Territories. In Israel the European Parliament President met Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and several members of his government including Vice Prime Minister Shimon Peres and Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom. Mr Borrell visited the Holocaust Museum, and Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva. In the Palestinian Territories the EP President met the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, PLC President Rauhi Fattuh, Minister for Civil Affairs Mohamed Dahlan, and UNRWA (UN Agency for Palestinian refugees) General Commissioner Karen Koning-Abuzayd. Mr Borrell visited Gaza and made a tour of the separation wall and Israeli settlements around Jerusalem. In addition, he had lunch with the Geneva Initiative’s main promoters, Yossi Beilin and Abed Rabbo. Mr Borrell was accompanied by two MEPs, the President of the EP Delegation for relations with Israel Jana Hybaskova, and the President of the EP Delegation for relations with the PLC, Adamos Adamou. The full texts of Josep Borrell’s speeches to the Knesset and the PLC are on line at: http://www.europarl.eu.int/president/speeches/fr/files/sp0045.htm and http://www.europarl.eu.int/president/speeches/fr/files/sp0046.htm . For more information : http://www.europarl.eu.int/president/press_releases/fr/files/cp0068.htm

* European Parliament President Josep Borrell Fontelles on 6 July reported on his visit to the Middle East at a meeting of the EP Delegation to the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA). He was accompanied by the President of the EP Delegation for relations with Israel Jana Hybaskova, and the President of the EP Delegation for relations with the PLC, Adamos Adamou. The EP Delegation to the EMPA then had an exchange of views with MEP Anneli Jäätteenmäki, member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and rapporteur on « The Barcelona Process revisited ».

* UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw, who holds the EU Council Presidency in the 2nd half of 2005, on 1 July met European Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner in Brussels as part of preparations for the new Presidency. Mr Straw said “There will be no higher priority in the next six months than working for peace in the Middle East. … The European Neighbourhood Policy is central to promoting stability, security and prosperity in our region. … The Commission has also made some excellent proposals for deepening relations with Mediterranean Partners through the Barcelona Process.” Ms Ferrero-Waldner stated that during the UK Presidency, the Commission would continue to promote democracy through its targeted election monitoring missions, including in the Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories. More on http://europa.eu.int/news/index_fr.htm

* The EU-Tunisia Neighbourhood Action Plan entered into force on 4 July. This was welcomed by European Commissioner for External Policy and European Neighbourhood Policy, and Tunisia’s Foreign Minister Abdelbaki Hermassi in a joint communiqué published on 6 July in Tunis. The Action Plan provides for a number of precise, practical and jointly prepared activities and initiatives. It covers measures allowing Tunisia to forge ahead towards participating in Europe’s Internal Market, as well as strengthening Political Dialogue and co-operation in such areas as environment, infrastructure networks, social policy, justice and home affairs, education, research, and culture. This is the first Neighbourhood Action Plan for a Maghreb country to enter into force.

* The first Annual EU-Egypt Trade and Investment Conference is taking place on 7 July in Brussels at the European Parliament’s premises, under the Auspices of Egypt’s Prime Minister Dr Ahmed Nazif, and with the support of the UK Government as current holder of the EU Presidency. The Conference is also sponsored or supported by several companies and organisations. There was a pre-Conference dinner on 6 July where guests heard a speech by the European Investment Bank Vice-President in charge of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), Philippe de Fontaine Vive. The welcome speech to the Conference was delivered by Egypt’s Ambassador to the EU Dr Mahmoud Karem. The three sessions address ‘Reform in Egypt – Investing for the future’; ‘Sokhna Port – Public-Private business model for economic development in Egypt’; and ‘EU-Egypt trade & investment overview’ respectively. In addition, roundtables focus on ‘Financing Investment in Egypt’, and ‘Trade opportunities for the private sector’. Speakers include several Egyptian Government Ministers, European Parliament Vice-President Edward McMillan-Scott, and (via a link-up from London) European Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, as well as senior representatives of companies and business associations.

* The MED Committee will meet on 11 July in Brussels. Opinions should be given on MEDA National Financing Plans 2005 for seven Mediterranean Partners (Algeria; Egypt; Jordan; Lebanon; Morocco; Syria; and Tunisia), as well as the Regional Financing Plan 2005 (Part II). The latter provides for measures designed to improve living conditions of Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria, funding for the existing TEMPUS and Euro-Med Youth programmes in 2005-2006, and three operations falling within the European Neighbourhood Policy. These are: Transnational and cross-border co-operation; Promoting a Euro-Mediterranean airspace; and Technical support for the Israel-Palestinian Joint Transport Office.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* SEMINARS ON EU BASICS AND MEDA PROCEDURES FOR MED CIVIL SERVANTS
The first in a series of ten ‘EU Programmes’ training seminars on MEDA funded projects and programmes is being held from 4 to 8 July in Brussels as part of the MEDA funded ‘Training of Public Administrations’ Regional Programme, managed by the European Commission’s EuropeAid Cooperation Office. The seminar should enable the 30 or so participants to prepare and submit applications within procedures launched under MEDA funded programmes and projects, as well as to spread knowledge gained around their respective administrations. The 7th Training Seminar on ‘EU Basics’ for Mediterranean Civil Servants will take place from 11 to 15 July in Brussels as part of the same Regional Programme. It 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’ and ‘EU Programmes’ are two of four modules, the others being ‘EU Advanced’ and ‘Train the Trainers’. Creating a network of training centres is also envisaged under the programme.

Brussels,07 19 2005
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