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INSTITUTIONAL ACTIVITIES

* On 11 October, the Council of Ministers approved the Commission proposal to create a pan-Euro-Mediterranean zone of cumulation of origin between the European Union, Algeria, Bulgaria, Egypt, Faeroe Islands, Iceland, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Norway, Romania, Syria, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey, West Bank and Gaza Strip. This system will make it easier for producers and traders within the zone to benefit from preferential customs tariffs. Cumulation of origin is an instrument that allows material to be sourced and manufactured in a number of countries without the finished product losing the benefit of preferential customs tariffs when it enters the country of destination. The system has been successfully applied since 1997 between the EU and EFTA countries and those of central and eastern Europe and since 1999 with Turkey. The Council decision opens the way for the extension of this system to the Mediterranean partners that participate in the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. For more information on this system, see the following link: http://europa.eu.int/comm/taxation_customs/customs/
customs_duties/rules_origin/preferential/article_791_en.htm

* Mrs Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, will visit Tunis (Tunisia) on 12 and 13 October to map out the next steps for relations with Tunisia in the light of the European Neighbourhood Policy. In meetings, chiefly with Foreign Minister Abdelwaheb Abdallah, she will discuss the practical steps to be taken with a view to fully exploiting the potential of this new bilateral political framework. She will also discuss the creation of a sub-committee on Human rights. The EU-Tunisia Neighbourhood Action Plan, which came into force on 4 July 2005, sets out a series of specific and practical actions and initiatives, and a regular but flexible review mechanism. It covers political dialogue, actions in the field of human rights, migration, the fight against terrorism, trade and measures to bring Tunisian economic, social and science structures more into line with those of the EU. Negotiations on liberalising services and investment and on further agricultural liberalisation should be launched shortly with a view to establishing a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area by 2010. The Commissioner will encourage Tunisia to seize this unique opportunity to foster trade and investment between the EU and Tunisia. The Commissioner’s visit to Tunis will also provide an opportunity to prepare, with the Tunisian authorities, the forthcoming Euro-Mediterranean Summit, which will take place on 27 and 28 November 2005, marking the tenth anniversary of the Barcelona Process. For further information on EU-Tunisia relations:
http://europa.eu.int/comm/external_relations/tunisia/intro/index.htm

* The European Commissioner for External Relations and the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), Mrs Benita Ferrero-Waldner visited Lebanon for the first time on 29 and 30 September. This is the first visit by a Senior EU personality since the assassination of former prime minister and deputy, Mr Rafik Hariri. Mrs Ferrero-Waldner met with Lebanese Prime Minister, Mr Fouad Siniora and Foreign Minister, Fawzi Salloukh and conveyed the same message of the EU’s willingness to support Lebanon through the ENP. The Commissioner insisted however on the need for Lebanon to carry out political and economic reforms, stating that if the EU is “determined to stand by Lebanon”, the latter “should not expect a blank cheque”. During her visit, she also attended a presentation of a “Youth Action Plan” prepared by 3 Lebanese universities in the framework of a simulation exercise on the ENP. Moreover, the Commissioner announced the provision of a further 4 million euro package to the project “Support to municipalities in the framework of local development” aimed at extending the project’s activities.

* The European Commission adopted on 12 October a Communication entitled "A strategy on the external dimension of the area of freedom, security and justice" that outlines the main external challenges facing the area of freedom, security and justice. The Communication identifies key areas for action with third countries, namely human rights, strengthening institutions and good governance, migration, asylum and border management, the fight against terrorism and organised crime, as well as principles to guide cooperation, such as geographic differentiation, partnership and flexibility. A broad range of instruments are identified to implement cooperation on justice, freedom and security issues with third countries, ranging from cooperation agreements and technical assistance to Europol, Eurojust and liaison officers. The Communication assesses how these instruments could be applied in the near future to specific countries and regions, such as the United States, Western Balkans, Russia, Ukraine and the Mediterranean countries.

PROGRAMMES & PROJECTS

* EUROMED TRANSPORT FORUM. At the seventh Euro-Med Transport Forum of 11 October 2005, representatives from MEDA partner countries and EU Member states adopted the final version of the Blue Book on transport in the Mediterranean. They also reviewed the draft agenda of the ministerial Euro-Med Transport Conference which will take place on 15 December, in Marrakesh; and discussed the draft conclusions to be adopted by the Transport Ministers. Participants also held an exchange of views on the next steps of the Euro-Med Transport Project. For more information, contact: Anne-Charlotte.Bournoville@cec.eu.int and Leonidas.kioussis@cec.eu.int

* MEDSTAT II – TASK FORCE MEETINGS 10-11 OCTOBER MEDSTAT II, a three-year- MEDA funded Programme managed by EuropeAid, Cooperation Office of the European Commission, will be launched by the end of 2005. It aims at improving the sustainable capacity of the ten partner countries to produce and publish comprehensive, reliable, timely and relevant statistics to ensure a certain level of harmonisation of statistical methods with EU requirements and to answer users' needs. In the framework of this programme, two Task Forces meetings took place on October 10th and 11th. The first one, on Migration Statistics in the Mediterranean partner countries (Med-Migration) was held in Brussels and the second one, on Energy Statistics (Med-Energy) took place in Luxembourg. Representatives from the National Statistic Institutes and other relevant authorities in the Mediterranean partner countries, the European Commission, external experts and delegates from some member states participated in the discussions about the Commission proposals and the national priorities. A general agreement was reached on the work programme outline for both fields (Migration, Energy). The outcome of these Task Forces, after the corresponding revision and approval, will be incorporated into the MEDSTAT II components. For further information, contact: anna.abariotou@cec.eu.int , jean-marc.riegel@cec.eu.int

PUBLICATIONS

* MEDITERRANEAN MIGRATION – ANNUAL REPORT 2005 In the framework of the EuroMed Migration Project, a MEDA regional initiative launched by EuropeAid, Cooperation Office of the European Commission, the Euro-Mediterranean Consortium for Applied Research on International Migration (CARIM), responsible for implementation of the Project, has recently published its first annual report “Mediterranean Migration 2005”. This is the result of a comprehensive survey of migration-related demographic and economic data, legislation, and policies, centred on the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean. The report contains a regional overview, followed by ten sections – one for each of the MEDA countries – each comprising two to four reports on the demographic, economic, legal, and political dimensions of migration, and an appendix of statistics and maps. http://www.carim.org/Publications/AR2005CARIM_lite01.pdf

MISCELLANEOUS

* THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION CREATES THE “SAMIR KASSIR AWARD FOR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS”. Deeply shocked by the assassination on 2 June 2005 of journalist and writer Samir Kassir, the European Commission decided to create the award to stress its will to legitimise freedom of thought and promote freedom of the press in Mediterranean partner countries. The award aims at perpetuating Samir Kassir’s commitment to the state of law as a journalist and a political science lecturer, by rewarding a report or series of reports and a research project on the state of law or freedom of the press in MEDA countries. Two prizes of euro 10,000 each, will be awarded, one to a professionnel journalist and another one to a young reseacher (student under 26) from MEDA countries. The Jury will be jointly selected by the European Commission and the Samir Kassir Foundation and the prize will be awarded in Beirut every year on 2 June by the European Commission in partnership with the Foundation. For further information, contact: veronique.ruggirello@cec.eu.int

* “BALANCE AND PROSPECTS FOR DECENTRALIZED COOPERATION BETWEEN EURO MEDITERRANEAN LOCAL GOVERNMENTS” The Symposium, which was organized in Barcelona by the Barcelona County Council and the Association Arco Latino on 14th, 15th and 16th September in order to promote a space for dialogue and reflection about international decentralized cooperation between territorial collectivities in the Mediterranean area, led to the adoption of a final Declaration. This event was organized with the support of the EC and the Committee of the Regions. The Declaration will be presented to the 26 November Summit of Regions and Cities in Barcelona. It calls for the recognition of the role of territorial collectivities in the framework of the Euro Mediterranean Partnership. It also calls for the creation of an Observatory that will compile, systematize, visualize and spread out the experiences, the results and the impact of International Public Decentralized Cooperation among Euro Mediterranean territorial collectivities; and for support to training actions and capacity building for local authorities. For more, see: : www.euromediterrania.org and www.arcolatino.org

Brussels,10 17 2005
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