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Euromed News

MEETINGS

* European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten visited Lebanon on 6 and 7 February at the end of a trip that also took him to Iran and Turkey (see No 213). He met President Emile Lahoud, Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud, and Economy and Trade Minister Basil Fuleihan on 7 February. Mr Patten congratulated Lebanon on the recent ratification of the Association Agreement, pointing out that important implementation work now lay ahead.

The situation in Iraq was discussed, each side underlining their support for full use of the UN mechanism for resolving the crisis; and on the Middle East Peace Process, Lebanon voiced appreciation for the EU' s role. Mr Patten was keen to see the Quartet's Road Map published as soon as possible. With the European Parliament's strong backing for the Association Agreement with Lebanon, ratified in mid-January, the Commissioner reminded Lebanon of the Parliament's concerns for human rights issues as set out in the accompanying Resolution. These included concerns about the humanitarian situation facing Palestinian refugees, and the Commissioner offered EU support to work with the government to improve conditions in the camps. Mr Patten was keen to see the recommendations of the recent UNDP report on Arab human development be considered in future EU aid programmes. He added that the 2nd tranche of the Structural Adjustment Facility is to be paid soon, and that once an IMF programme was in place, EU budgetary support could be considered. On the Agadir Process Mr Patten supported Lebanon's inclusion. The Lebanese did not exclude this, according to the Economy Minister, and it was being given careful consideration.

* European Commission Vice-President in charge of Transport and Energy Loyola De Palacio visited Algeria from 6 to 9 February to discuss issues of mutual interest with her Algerian counterparts. She met Minister of Energy and Mining Dr Chakib Khelil with whom she discussed a number of issues related to EU-Algeria co-operation in the energy sector, as well as the global oil market. On the latter both sides emphasised the importance of reinforced dialogue to ensure better security of supply, and the significance of network interconnection for the transport of hydrocarbons, particularly gas, between the EU and Algeria. The importance of EU-Algeria gas pipeline projects was underlined, and Ms De Palacio reiterated that EU support can be provided through the Energy Transeuropean Network Programme, and the European Investment Bank's 'FEMIP' Facility (see p 2). Reform in Algeria's energy sector was also discussed. The two sides agreed on developing co-operation on energy saving, and tapping Algeria's huge potential in solar energy. On maritime safety both sides confirmed their interest in conducting joint studies into encouraging the transport of oil by pipeline. Maritime safety was also high on the agenda of talks between the Commissioner and Algeria's Transport Minister Abdelmalek Sellal. Both sides insisted on the need for urgent co-operation among Mediterranean countries, and Ms De Palacio invited Algeria to take part in activities of the new European Agency for Maritime Safety. In addition, she called on Algeria to participate in preparations for the European 'GALILEO' Satellite Navigation System.
http://europa.eu.int (click on 'press release').

* Meetings will be held in London from 18 to 20 February on the Middle East Peace Process, the situation on the ground, and Palestinian reform. The EU believes that early adoption of a Road Map for the Peace Process would relieve tension and offer positive prospects to the region. The Ad Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) will meet on 18 and 19 February to look at the assistance needs of the Palestinians. The Committee will be updated on economic and financial aspects of institutional reform in the Palestinian Authority, as well as on international donors' strategies for 2003. The meeting will be co-chaired by Norway and the EU Presidency, and attended by representatives of major donors such as the United States and the EU. Other international players, Israel, and the Palestinian Authority will also be represented. The International Task Force on Palestinian Reform will meet on 19 and 20 February to discuss the state of play of Palestinian Reform as regards the Rule of Law and the Constitution, the civil service, and the market economy, as well as obstacles to reform. Israeli and Palestinian representatives are expected to attend.

* The European Parliament Delegation for relations with the Maghreb countries and the Arab Maghreb Union will meet on 18 February in Brussels. There will be an exchange of views on a Moroccan proposal to reinforce parliamentary dialogue by setting up a joint parliamentary structure. Preparations for a working group visit to Morocco and Mauritania will be discussed in the presence of Moroccan Ambassador Mrs Belarbi. The Delegation's priorities for 2003 are also on the agenda.

* Two Working Groups of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Forum met in early February in Brussels in the run-up to the 5th meeting of the Forum due to be held in Crete at the end of March. The Working Group on Migration and Human Exchanges met on 4 February to discuss the 4th Forum Resolution on migration, and to have an exchange of views on national and European legislation in this area. The other Working Group discussed the establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly which is on the agenda of the meeting in Crete.

* A workshop designed to promote activities of the MEDA funded Human Rights and Democratisation Programme for Jordan will be hosted by the European Commission Delegation in Amman on 17 February. Presentations will be made to Human Rights NGOs of the € 2 million programme, its timeframe and procedures. The meeting should help initiate discussions on priority themes, and identify issues that should be tackled.
www.deljor.cec.eu.int

* The third meeting of the MEDA funded project 'Support to the Ad Hoc Groups of the Euro-Mediterranean Energy Forum' will take place on 19 and 20 February in Brussels. Presentations will be made of papers addressing issues dealt with by the three Ad Hoc Groups (Energy Policy, Interconnection, and Economic Analysis). Priorities and orientations for the Euro-Mediterranean Energy Forum Meeting next April are expected to be discussed and proposed.
http://medenergy-groups.epu.ntua.gr

* A Moroccan Energy Sector Decision Makers' Workshop was held from 3 to 7 February in Rabat within the MEDA funded Euro-Mediterranean Energy Policy Training Network. This was the 11th in a series of twelve seminars taking place in each Mediterranean Partner. The seminar was hosted by the Moroccan Centre for the Development of Renewable Energy, and it was attended by decision makers and key stakeholders of Morocco's energy sector.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* A RECORD € 1.8 BILLION LENT TO MEDITERRANEAN PARTNERS IN 2002
European Investment Bank (EIB) lending in the 12 Mediterranean Partners in 2002 reached the record figure of € 1.8 billion, according to data published by the Bank on 13 February. EIB loans in the region amounted to € 1.5 billion in 2001. Infrastructure for economic development, including energy, water, and waste management was the EIB's main focus in 2002 (€ 1,440 million). Another priority was private business (€ 313 million). Social welfare infrastructure received loans worth € 205 million. The year 2002 was marked by the launching of the Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). Under FEMIP the Bank plans to inject € 8 to 10 billion in the Mediterranean Partners by 2006.
www.eib.org

* MEDSTAT ENVIRONMENT FINAL CONFERENCE
MEDSTAT Environment (MED-Env), a sub-programme of the MEDA funded MEDSTAT I Regional Programme, will hold its Final Conference from 18 to 20 February in Istanbul to review activities and discuss the prospects for a second phase. A regional report on the achievements of MED-Env will be presented, as well as results of other MEDSTAT sub-programmes interlinking with MED-Env (Transport, National Accounts, Tourism, and Agriculture). In addition, ways to boost capacity in the Mediterranean Partners will be discussed. Recommendations should be adopted as to the future of Euro-Mediterranean statistics on the environment.

PUBLICATIONS

* HOW TRADE CAN WORK FOR DEVELOPMENT
Examples of how EU trade-related assistance has helped development worldwide are presented in a brochure published by the European Commission on 10 February, one of them concerning a pest-free area system set up to rescue Egypt's potato exports. During 1996-2001 a total of € 76.8 million was spent in trade-related projects in the Mediterranean region.
http://europa.eu.int

* DOCUMENT ON HUMAN RIGHTS INITIATIVE UPDATED
€ 2 million have been earmarked for regional projects in the Mediterranean area within the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) for 2003. Moreover Algeria, Tunisia, and Israel/West Bank & Gaza Strip are considered as 'focus countries' for the purpose of EIDHR activities this year. The complete update of the programming document for the EIDHR is on the web:
http://europa.eu.int

* MORE INFORMATION ON EUROPEAID ON THE WEB
The 'Frequently Asked Questions' about the role of the European Commission's EuropeAid Cooperation Office are now available in German, French, Dutch, and Danish. The English version has been on the web for a few weeks.
http://europa.eu.int

Brussels,02 19 2003
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