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French Version

Euromed News

DECISIONS

During their third Association Council held on 24 February in Brussels, the European Union and Morocco decided to intensify bilateral co-operation in the framework of the Association Agreement through the establishment of six strategic sub-committees on Internal Market; Industry, Trade, and Services; Transport, Environment, and Energy; Research and Innovation; Agriculture and Fisheries; and Justice and Security.

The new sub-committees will have the task of monitoring implementation of the partnership priorities, and the approximation of legislation. European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten said after the meeting: "This is the first time such an ambitious and complex network of committees has been established by the EU with a partner country of the South Mediterranean. Our dialogue had reached maturity and definitely needed this new set of fora as a concrete and pragmatic instrument to further deepen our relations. I hope this example will be followed in our relations with other countries in this region". More on
http://europa.eu.int

REMINDER - The trade provisions of the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement will enter into force on 1 March. This occurs by virtue of the EU-Lebanon Interim Agreement, which will be in force from that day, pending ratification of the main Agreement.
http://europa.eu.int

MEETINGS

* The EU Council of Ministers discussed the Middle East over lunch on 24 February in Brussels in the presence of the President of the Arab League Mahmoud Hammoud (Foreign Minister of Lebanon), and of the Secretary General of the Arab League Amr Moussa. Ministers reaffirmed the importance of invigorating the Peace Process as well as their support for early implementation of the roadmap endorsed by the Quartet. This followed meetings in London of the Informal Ah Hoc Liaison Committee (AHLC) on 18 and 19 February, and of the Quartet Envoys on 19 February. Both meetings discussed the Middle East Peace Process, the situation on the ground, and Palestinian reform. The Envoys discussed the next steps towards the adoption and implementation of the Quartet's Road Map, and reaffirmed that the Road Map should be formally adopted and presented to the parties to the conflict as soon as possible. The AHLC expressed strong support for the work of the Quartet, and confirmed its commitment to continued financial support to mitigate the further deterioration of living conditions in the West Bank and Gaza.

* Morocco's Foreign Minister Fassi Fihri, who was in Brussels to take part in the EU-Morocco Association Council, met European Commissioner for Trade Pascal Lamy on 24 February. They discussed bilateral and multilareral trade, as well as regional co-operation. Commissioner Lamy praised Minister Fassi Fihri for the important role played by Morocco within the Barcelona Process. Bilateral trade was reviewed, and the Commissioner encouraged Morocco to continue working towards the full implementation of the Association Agreement. Two ongoing regional initiatives were discussed. On rules of origin Mr Lamy informed the Minister on the progress made to extend the Pan-European system to the Mediterranean countries. He also invited Morocco to be active within the Euro-Mediterranean Working Group on Trade Facilitation. The Moroccan Minister informed Mr. Lamy on the recent conclusion of negotiations within the Agadir Process aimed at creating a free trade area between Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia, and he told the Commissioner the new grouping could be open to other countries in the region in the future. Mr Lamy expressed his full support for this process of regional integration. On WTO Mr Lamy encouraged Morocco to play a leading role in current negotiations.

* Morocco's Economy and Finance Minister Fathallah Oualalou will meet European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pedro Solbes, as well as senior Commission officials on 4 March in Brussels, after talks with the President of the European Investment Bank (EIB) Philippe Maystadt on 3 March. There will be a review of bilateral economic and financial co-operation under MEDA in 2002. European Commission representatives will underline progress made last year. Mr Oualalou is expected to outline the new Moroccan government's intentions on structural reforms.

* Jordan's Minister of Planning Dr Bassem Awadallah met European Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten on 25 February in Brussels to discuss problems that might affect his country in the event of a war on Iraq, and possible EU emergency assistance. He mentioned the risk of a humanitarian crisis arising from an expected influx of refugees. Commissioner Patten explained how the EU humanitarian aid system operates, and said the EU would not be insensitive to Jordan's humanitarian needs if the conflict occurs. Discussions also touched on bilateral relations. The Jordanian Minister updated the Commissioner on his country's efforts in the fields of economic and social development, and human rights. Mr Patten welcomed progress made in Jordanian reforms, and the prospect of elections scheduled to be held next June. He also encouraged the Jordan government to continue being a driving force for democratisation and modernisation in the region. On the Agadir Process Mr Patten reiterated European Commission support to this 'South-South' initiative, and welcomed the recent agreement reached by the four participating countries.

* HRH Princess Basma bin Talal, sister of the late King Hussein of Jordan, will be received by several European Commissioners and European Commission Senior Officials on 4 March in Brussels. She will have talks with European Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid Poul Nielson, and his colleagues in charge of Education and Culture, and Employment and Social Affairs Viviane Reding and Anna Diamantopoulou respectively. Discussions will range from Civil Society and Education through the Advancement of Women to Human Rights, and Social Protection.

* The MED Committee will meet on 28 February in Brussels. The European Commission will inform the Committee of the budgetary situation of MEDA in 2002, the Work Programme 2003, the state of play of devolution, the recently launched review of National Indicative Programmes, and issues concerning the Committee's rules of procedure. There will be exchanges of views on Social Development, and Local Co-ordination.

* Experts from National Statistical Institutes of all 12 Mediterranean Partners, EU Member States, and the European Commission will meet from 3 to 6 March in Malta to discuss Partners' National Accounts Systems and measurements of the Non Observed Economy after three years' implementation of the MEDA funded MED-NA and MED-NOE projects. These are sub-programmes of the MEDSTAT Regional Programme of statistical co-operation. The meeting is organised by CESD-Roma and CESD-Communautaire, the implementing agencies for MED-NOE and MED-NA respectively.
http://europa.eu.int

* A Workshop on Reform of the Gas Sector is being held from 24 February to 7 March in Brussels within the MEDA funded project entitled 'Reform of the Legal and Institutional Energy Sector Framework'. Various aspects of the gas sector reform are addressed, notably the liberalisation process in the EU, private participation, unbundling, deregulation, competition, tariffs, and technical issues. The programme includes presentations of the current situation and an analysis of the prospects for the Mediterranean Partners. Participants are representatives of Ministries and energy companies.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* FINAL MEDSTAT ENVIRONMENT CONFERENCE
The Final Conference for the MEDA funded MEDSTAT-Environment (MED-Env) project was held from 18 to 20 February in Istanbul. One of the main achievements of MED-Env has been capacity building in National Statistical Institutes (NSI), notably the setting up of an environmental team or unit (formal or being formalised) in the 8 Mediterranean NSI where this was still lacking. MED-Env also focused on strengthening co-operation among institutions by involving all data producers (Environment Ministries; Ministries for Forestry; Water Agencies), and data users (researchers, decision-makers, etc) at National Statistical Systems' level. The project's priorities within MEDA II will include synergy with transport, tourism, agriculture, and national accounts. http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat .

* ENERGY POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
Important recommendations were agreed by the Energy Policy Ad Hoc Group during the 3rd meeting of the MEDA funded project 'Support to the Ad Hoc Groups of the Euro-Mediterranean Energy Forum'. On Security of Supply the Group proposed inter alia developing the Trans-Euro-Mediterranean Energy Network to ensure gas, oil, and electricity interconnections, reinforcing energy dialogue between producer and consumer countries, and encouraging the use of indigenous fuel sources where economic, as well as alternative fuels in the transport sector. On Competitiveness of the energy industry the Group proposed to gradually eliminate subsidies for non-sustainable energy sources, and to promote private financing using additional mechanisms, such as the new Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP). On Environmental Protection there was a consensus in favour of increasing the use of renewable energies, promoting energy efficiency measures, and emphasising prevention of pollution from oil tankers, using the future European satellite navigation system (GALILEO) where appropriate.

* PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT IN TUNISIA
The first in a series of seminars on the results of Tunisia's MEDA funded Private Sector Development Programme (Euro-Tunisie Entreprise or ETE), and the new Industrial Modernisation Programme was held on 20 February in Sousse. ETE has been in existence since 1996, and it has received a € 20 million grant from the EU for upgrading Tunisian businesses. It will be replaced by an Industrial Modernisation Programme 2003-2008 worth € 50 million.

* EGYPTIAN AND OTHER STUDENTS 'REDEFINING THE IMPOSSIBLE'
Some 300 students from Egyptian Universities, other Arab countries, as well as Europe and Africa are playing Ministers or Heads of State and Government within a simulation programme called 'The International Model European Union 2003', and taking place from 25 February to 1 March in Cairo under the motto 'Redefining the Impossible'. The programme is part of the local information activities funded by the European Commission Delegation in Egypt. Subjects being addressed during those simulated EU or Euro-Mediterranean meetings include Extremism in Europe, the American strategy towards disarming Iraq, and Human Rights in Europe.

Brussels,03 02 2003
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