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Brussels, 17th April 2002

Euro-Mediterranean Conference in Valencia aims to boost the Barcelona Process despite Middle East crisis

Foreign Ministers of the 15 EU Member States and 12 Partners in the South Mediterranean will meet on 22 and 23 April in Valencia, Spain for the 5th Euro-Mediterranean Conference. The European Commission will be represented by External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten. Ministers are expected to adopt an Action Plan covering political and security; economic and financial; and social, cultural and human aspects, designed to give a new political impulse to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. This conference will take place against the backdrop of near completion of the grid of Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements. In the margins, the Euromed Association Agreements with Algeria and Lebanon will be signed. A renewed mutual commitment should be made to make full use of the Association Agreements and of the MEDA Programme, and to reinforce the sense of ownership by all partners. The Conference should give the green light to a regional programme of co-operation in the field of justice (combating drugs traficking, organised crime and terrorism) and on issues relating to migration and movement of people. The Conference should agree on the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean Foundation to promote mutual understanding and co-operation and exchanges on cultural issues.

The Conference should provide an opportunity for a full, frank and constructive discussion of the achievements, shortcomings, and future of the Barcelona Process, which has shown its resilience in the present extremely difficult political context. The Partnership should reiterate its support for a negotiated solution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. The complementary character of the efforts for peace in the Middle East and the Barcelona Process will need to be reaffirmed, as well as the recognition of the support that the Barcelona Process can give to improving the situation in the region.

Within the political and security chapter of the Barcelona Process, Ministers should approve guidelines for co-operation in the fight against terrorism, including a commitment to implementing the relevant UN Resolutions, and to taking a number of operational measures to co-operate in the police and judicial fields. The Conference should recommend the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly as has been proposed by the European Parliament.

As regards economic and financial co-operation, priority should be given to improving conditions which will favour investment in order to create more jobs. Ministers should welcome the signing at Valencia of the Agreements with Algeria and Lebanon, constituting the near-completion of the grid of Association Agreements, as well as the conclusions of the recent meetings of Trade Ministers in Toledo and of Industry Ministers in Malaga. The role of the private sector and the importance of South-South integration should be highlighted.

Ministers should also welcome improvements made to the delivery of the MEDA programme of financial assistance to the Partners which has been streamlined and made more target oriented.

The Conference will underline the relevance of the social, cultural, and human chapter of the Barcelona Process, particularly in the present international situation. The Ministers should endorse a framework document for launching a regional programme of 'Co-operation in the field of Justice, in combating drugs, organised crime and terrorism as well as cooperation in the treatment of issues relating to the social integration of migrants, migrations and movements of people'. In addition, the Conference should agree to the principle of creating a Euro-Mediterranean Foundation to promote a dialogue of cultures and civilisations, and to raise awareness of the Barcelona Process through intellectual, cultural and civil society exchanges.

The meeting takes place within the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership launched at the Barcelona Conference in 1995. All 27 full members of the Partnership are invited, as well as representatives of Libya, Mauritania, the Arab League and the Arab Maghreb Union as special guests of the Presidency, as is customary for this type of meeting.

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