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Euromed News

DECISIONS

* In the Framework of its Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP), the European Investment Bank (EIB) announced its first loan in the Mediterranean Partner Countries unsecured by a sovereign guarantee. This is a EUR 30 million loan to Banque Marocaine de Commerce Extérieur (BMCE) to assist the medium-term financing of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The corresponding finance contracts were signed on 29 September in Casablanca by Mr Philippe de Fontaine Vive, EIB Vice-President in charge of FEMIP, and Mr Othman Benjelloun, Chairman of BMCE. More information at: www.eib.org

* The European Parliament adopted on 29 September 2005 a resolution on Tunisia in which it welcomes the significant economic and social progress made, including in the areas of education and training, health and social security. The EP is concerned however with the lack of progress on projects related to human rights, women issues, health and justice; it calls on the Council and Commission to accelerate the establishment of a fully operational Sub-Committee on Human Rights as foreseen under the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement. The full text of the resolution can be found at http://www.europarl.eu.int (click Activities, then Texts adopted at last part-session).

* The European Union Council on General Affairs and External Relations adopted at its meeting in Luxembourg on 3 October conclusions on the Middle-East Peace Process (MEPP) . In these conclusions, the Council welcomed the successful conclusion of the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and parts of the northern West Bank as a significant step towards implementing the Roadmap. It fully endorsed the Quartet’s statement following its meeting in New York on 20 September (see Synopsis n°328), and announced its readiness to help the Quartet Special Envoy, James Wolfensohn, resolve outstanding issues on disengagement, particularly concerning the economic viability of Gaza and confidence-building at Gaza’s southern border. It called for renewed action in parallel by both parties to fulfill their obligations under the Roadmap, and commitments made at Sharm el Sheikh. The Council also expressed concern at the renewed violence in Israel and the Occupied Territories, about the ongoing expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the continuing construction of the separation wall in occupied Palestinian land. The full text of the conclusions can be found at: http://ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/gena/86441.pdf

* The European Commission adopted on 5 October a Communication to the Council and the European Parliament “EU-Palestinian cooperation beyond disengagement - towards a two-state solution”. The aim of the Communication is to define elements of a comprehensive, medium-term strategy for EU’s support to the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. The strategy focuses on the actions required to create a Palestinian state viable both politically and economically. This is a an immediate response to the new opportunities presented following Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, and to the needs assessment currently being carried out by the Quartet Special Envoy, James Wolfensohn. Mr Wolfensohn has called on the international community to double assistance to the Palestinians, a call endorsed by the G8. Provided Israel’s disengagement from Gaza leads to progress in implementing the Road Map, and provided other donors also substantially increase their contributions, the Commission will come back with proposals for additional resources in the 2006 budget by early 2006 at the latest. The strategy presented today builds on the immediate €60 million post-disengagement package already being implemented (see Synopsis n°327). http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/gaza/intro/com05_458_en.pdf

MEETINGS

* Mrs Benita Ferrero-Waldner attended on 5 October 2005 in Brussels a joint meeting of Foreign Affairs and Defence Committees of the European Parliament and of National Parliaments. The Commissioner highlighted the importance for the EU to take a greater role on the international stage, and meet global challenges like terrorism, poverty, AIDS and other pandemics, and the environment. She stated that the security challenges are not only about defence and military but also about the wise management of bilateral relationships. In this respect she stressed the importance of the European Neighbourhood Policy which is a “win-win policy, based on mutual interest and shared values” and outlined the major activities currently undertaken within this policy namely in the Mediterranean region. The full speech can be found at : http://europa.eu.int/comm/world/ (Speeches)

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* EUROMED YOUTH AWARDS, 12-16 OCTOBER, EGYPT
Sixty participants from 24 countries (EU and Mediterranean) have been selected for the “Euro-Med Youth Awards” for best projects to be held in Cairo, Egypt, from 12 to 16 October 2005. The event aims at bringing the Euro-Med Youth Programme (MEDA funded Programme) and its achievements into the spotlights, to share and promote good practices amongst key actors and contribute to move partnership and cooperation forward. It will be the high point of a week of intercultural exchange and debate organised to mark the celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration and the achievements of the Euro-Med Youth Programme. The “Euro-Med Youth Awards” is organised in partnership between the Egyptian National Coordination Office for the Euro-Med Youth Programme, SALTO-YOUTH Euro-Med Resource Centre and the Euro-Med Youth Platform in cooperation with the Anna Lindh Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the dialogue between cultures under the patronage of the European Commission. For more information: silvia.mora@cec.eu.int (tel. 0032-2-2986876) and leonidas.kioussis@cec.eu.int

* SEVENTH EUROMED TRANSPORT FORUM, 11 OCTOBER 2005, BRUSSELS
This meeting of the Forum will be centered mainly on the organisation and preparation of the December ministerial meeting as well as on the structure and wording of a set of operational conclusions which will be referred to and approved by the Transport ministers. The Forum will take account of the draft conclusions of the High-Level Group on the extension of the trans-European transport network (TEN-T) to neighbouring countries. A discussion is also foreseen on the next steps of the Euro-Med Transport Project (trainings, studies, regional action plan). For more information: Anne-Charlotte.Bournoville@cec.eu.int , leonidas.kioussis@cec.eu.int

MISCELLANEOUS

* EUROMED AND THE MEDIA – SECOND INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE, 17-18 OCTOBER, MARSEILLE – FRANCE. This conference is the second of a trilogy of such events (see Synopsis n°326) that the European Commission has organised with a view to addressing critical aspects of the current and potential role of the media in the advancement of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. These three events are part of the Euromed regional programme “Information and Communication” one of the objectives of which is to increase the visibility of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. The Dead Sea Conference of 26-28 September successfully launched a dialogue amongst the media professionals from across the EU and MEDA countries. Major issues emerged that are likely to recur throughout discussions over the coming months such as: the role of the journalist, the nature of objective reporting, the role of the media in conflict situations, particularly in the Middle East, and the safety of journalists. At the Marseilles conference, discussions will centre around “The reality of the euro-mediterranean partnership and neighbourhood policy in the media”, “Freedom of expression in euro-mediterranean media”, “The role of journalism schools for specific training on the partnership” and “Societal problems through euro-mediterranean media”. The last event will take place in Barcelona on 25 and 26 November. For more information, contact: thomas.mcgrath@cec.eu.int

* WOMEN AND MICRO-CREDIT IN MEDA REGION, 11 OCTOBER 2005, BRUSSELS. The European Parliament’ Committee for Women’s rights and equal opportunities is organising a public hearing on 11 October 2005 on Women and micro credit in the MEDA region. The morning session will be dedicated to presentations on micro credit in Morocco, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon and Egypte, followed by debates with representatives from the Council, European Commission and civil society. In the afternoon session, participants will hear of the experiences in micro credit in some developing countries (Latin Amercia, Africa, Afganistan). For more informations, contact: gguzeviciute@europarl.eu.int

Brussels,10 10 2005
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