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Euromed News

INSTITUTIONAL ACTIVITIES

* Agreement on “Movement and Access” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. EU positive reactions. EU High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), Javier Solana and Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, representing the EU Presidency, issued a joint statement on 15 November welcoming the Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority on “Movement and Access”. “….This agreement has been the result of intensive work by the EU, Jim Wolfensohn, the US and of course the parties themselves…..This is extremely good news. These issues are fundamental to improving the humanitarian situation on the ground in Gaza as well as essential for promoting peaceful economic development……..and we now hope that both sides will now make every effort to ensure that the commitments made are now translated into reality…..”. As regards EU’s willingness in principle to provide assistance with the operation of crossing at Gaza/Egypt border at Rafah, they said “…We are now undertaking the necessary preparations and planning…”. For the full statement and text of the Agreement, see: http://ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/declarations/86963.pdf. In her statement welcoming the agreement, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and the European Neighbourdhood Policy said: “…this opens the way to much needed greater mobility for Palestinians and with EU presence they will now be able to manage the border between Gaza and Egypt”. The Commissioner also mentioned that “the Commission is already active in capacity building on border issues, and in supporting the modernisation of the Palestinian customs services. A €40 million infrastructure facility was launched during my visit to the region last week. And I hope it will soon also be possible to unblock €25million which I have earmarked for building a new cargo terminal for the Gaza airport….”

* Small and medium sized businesses and electricity network in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to benefit from new EU/EIB loans. Following discussions under the UK Presidency, the EIB and the European Commission are currently working on two initiatives to support economic regeneration in the West Bank and Gaza. The first initiative includes a €30m package that the EU is putting together to provide loan guarantees that would help develop SMEs by increasing availability of affordable loan finance to the sector. As to the second, the EIB is working through its Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) to make €45 million available for schemes to improve the quality and reliability of the electricity supply across the Palestinian Territories. For more info, see: www.eib.org

* The Council adopted on 15 November a decision authorizing the Commission to open negotiations with its Mediterranean partner countries to further open up trade in fresh and processed agricultural and fisheries products. The aim of the talks is to achieve wide-ranging trade liberalisation by 2010, as foreseen in the ‘Barcelona Declaration’. The negotiations will cover all products as well as non-trade aspects such as rural development, technical barriers to trade, sanitary issues and quality policy. They must also take account of the particular sensitivity of certain products in both the EU and the Mediterranean partners. Senior officials discussed the decision at the first meeting of the Follow-up Committee for the Euro-Mediterranean Roadmap for Agriculture in Brussels on 14 November. Bilateral negotiations are expected to begin early 2006.

* EU Police Mission in the Palestinian Territories The Council adopted on 14 November a joint action establishing an EU Police Mission in the Palestinian Territories under the European Security and Defense Policy. The mission, code-named EUPOL-COPPS, will have a long-term reform focus and will provide enhanced support to the Palestinian Authority in establishing sustainable and effective police arrangements. It will act in close cooperation with the European Community’s institution building programmes as well as other international efforts in security and judicial reform. Jonathan McIvor, currently heading the EU Coordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support has been appointed to head the Mission. For more details:
http://ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/declarations/86983.pdf
http://ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/misc/86932.pdf

* The Euromed Senior Officials responsible for Political and Security Issues will meet in Brussels on 22 November to discuss preparations for the Barcelona Summit. The meeting has been scheduled to discuss the Summit texts on which agreement could not be reached at the previous meeting on 8 November. These are: the Draft Declaration, the draft five-year work Programme and the draft code of conduct for fighting terrorism.

* Fourth meeting of the Pan-Euro-Med Working Group on rules of origin, 12 December, Brussels. Participants include representatives from the customs administrations and other relevant ministries from all Mediterranean Parner countries, as well as Romania, Bulgaria, the EFTA countries and the Faeroe Islands. The working group will address a number of issues related to the implementation of the system of pan-Euro-Mediterranean cumulation of origin. For any further information, contact: Luc.Goorman@cec.eu.int

* Javier Solana, EU High Representative for the CFSP, strongly condemned the terrorist attacks of 9 November in Amman that injured and killed many civilians. “…..My thoughts are now with the victims and their families and with the Jordanian Government and people……Terrorism is an attack on the values shared by all of us”, he said in his statement following the attacks. Josep Borrell, President of the European Parliament, opened this week’s Plenary Session (14-18 November) in Strasbourg with a statement on the attacks “….. On behalf of the whole house, I conveyed our sorrow to the authorities in Amman and asked that our condolences be passed on to those affected…… Terrorism is not just a matter for Europe. It affects both shores of the Mediterranean; it is something we must face up to together - it will be on the agenda of both the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly meeting in Rabat and of the meeting of Heads of State or Government in Barcelona….”

* Extraordinary meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly (EMPA), 20-21 November, House of Representatives, Rabat. This meeting is taking place in the framework of the celebrations of the 10th Anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration. On this occasion, debates will be organised around issues related to the Barcelona Process such as, the implementation of the EU Strategic Partnership with the Mediterranean countries, the European Neighbourhood Policy, the Alliance of Civilisations and the Perspectives of sub-regional integration. The EMPA will also be adopting its Committees’ Recommendations (political, economic and cultural) to the Barcelona Summit. For more information, a draft programme is available at the following address: http://www.europarl.eu.int/meetdocs/2004_2009/
documents/fd/dmed20051116_03_programme_/
dmed20051116_03_programme_en.pdf

* Speaking recently at the Forum for the Future in Bahrain in the framework of his 4-day-visit to the Middle-East, Javier Solana made statements on his visit to Beirut on 11 November, the MEPP and the Euro-Mediterranean Process. A Summary of his intervention can be found at: http://ue.eu.int/ueDocs/cms_Data/docs/pressData/en/discours/86924.pdf

PROGRAMMES & PROJECT

* “DISCOVER ISLAMIC ART” PROJECT. This Project, which is part of the MEDA-funded EuroMed Heritage Programme, will launch on 9 December the “Dicover Islamic Art Virtual Museum”. This is a unique collaboration between 17 museums from 14 countries in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, dedicated to interrelating 850 artefacts from the participating museums with 385 monuments and archaeological sites from eleven countries within its newly completed, joint Permanent Collection. Discover Islamic Art combines for the first time physical and virtual exhibition venues within a joint museum with no frontiers, where Islamic Art and Architecture dating from the Umayyad period (661-750) until the end of the Ottoman Empire (1281-1922) will enable visitors all over the world to discover one of the great civilisations of the Mediterranean in context. www.discoverislamicart.org

* CULTURAL HERITAGE WITHIN THE BARCELONA PROCESS - WORKSHOP RESULTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS - Following the successful workshop entitled “Cultural Heritage within the Barcelona Process - Assessment and Orientations’ which took place in Barcelona in October, the Regional Management Support Unit (RMSU) has now published the final recommendations. The key recommendation is to place Cultural Heritage and cultural activities within the future European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument and to invite Governments to consider culture as a relevant tool for economic and local development and a basic instrument to build a national identity. Results can be read on the following page: http://www.euromedheritage.net/en/rmsu/rmsu_workshops/barcelona.htm

MISCELLANEOUS

* THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION DELEGATION IN SYRIA WILL VISIT SYRIAN UNIVERSITIES TO MARK 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE EURO-MEDITERRANEAN PARTNERSHIP. The Delegation of the European Commission to Syria met on 15 November with dozens of students and teachers at Ittihad Private University in Aleppo in the first of a string of information visits to institutions of higher education across the country on the theme of the EU-Mediterranean Partnership. The Delegation will also visit the EU-funded Higher Institute for Business Administration (HIBA). Other events are also scheduled to mark the 10th Anniversary. For more information, contact: Malene.Kamp-Jensen@cec.eu.int

* MEETING OF THE EUROMED WORKING GROUP OF EUROCITIES, 25 NOVEMBER, BARCELONA. The main goal of the meeting is to analyse progress on the Group’s initiatives and to discuss cooperation projects. This meeting will be followed by the “Euro-Mediterranean Cities Conference, Barcelona + 10” organised by the Municipality of Barcelona in collaboration with United Cities and Local Governments. For more info, contact: rmorla@mail.bcn.es

Brussels,11 21 2005
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