Brussels, 12 May 2010
ENP Country Progress Report 2009 – Lebanon
The Commission published on 12 May 2010 the so-called neighbourhood package, consisting of an overall assessment of five years of implementation of the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP), 12 country reports on developments in 2009, including one on Lebanon, and a sector report.
2009 was marked by very slow progress on political, economic and social reforms. Many draft laws implementing the reform agenda and related to Lebanon’s WTO accession remained blocked. In October 2009 the European Commission, through the EU Delegation in Beirut, organised a conference to evaluate the implementation of the Action Plan. The results proved that the ENP dialogue can help building consensus around key reforms and effectively assist the reform process.
The Government declaration from December 2009 sets ambitious goals and reiterates the well known need to implement overdue reforms. The translation of this policy statement into operational terms in 2010 should make it a concrete agenda for change and further the implementation of the EU-Lebanon Action Plan in the coming years.
Political dialogue and governance
The June 2009 Parliamentary elections marked an important progress in the area of electoral reform. The Constitutional Council was re-established prior to elections. Lebanon was one of only two countries in the ENP South region which invited and received an EU Election Observation Mission.
The Ministry of Justice launched a campaign to gain support for the abolition of death penalty in Lebanon. Despite the de facto moratorium on executions, death sentences continued to be issued in 2009.
As regards judicial reform, a decree nominating the unit in charge of the informatisation of the Ministry of Justice and of the Courts was adopted. The EU is actively financing the modernisation of the Judiciary.
Lebanon acceded to the UN Convention against Corruption in April 2009.
Lebanon maintains one of the most open and diverse media environments in the Middle East. Civil society organisations in Lebanon benefit from relatively liberal legislation.
The situation of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon remained unchanged. The declaration of policy of the new government sets as a priority the improvement of their social and economic rights and acknowledges the need to improve the living conditions in refugee camps.
In January 2009 a decree for the regulation of employment agencies that bring women migrant domestic workers to Lebanon was adopted. A Unified Contract for Migrant Domestic Workers was prepared in February 2009. However, enforcement remains critically weak as cases of exploitation, mistreatment and high rates of unnatural fatalities among women domestic migrant workers continue to be reported.
The normalisation of relations with Syria continued, with the appointment of ambassadors, the opening of respective embassies and official visits of Lebanese politicians in Damascus, notably of PM Hariri in December 2009.
The EU continued to help Lebanon to de-contaminate the country from cluster munitions and unexploded ordnance. In 2009, thanks to projects funded by the EU, 2.3 million square meters of land were cleared.
Economic integration and trade
The Lebanese economy performed robustly in spite of the global financial crisis. Real GDP growth is expected to have reached 5 to 7% in 2009. The Lebanese banks benefited from their image as a relatively safe destination to invest - their deposits increased by 23% during 2009.
Nevertheless the gross debt stood at 156% of GDP at the end of 2009, excluding payment arrears. The public deficit is expected to have broadened to 12.3% of GDP in 2009 from 9.9% in 2008.
The first tranche of grants and loans (€ 15 million and € 25 million respectively) under the EU Macro-Financial Assistance was disbursed with payments made in December 2008 and May 2009. In December 2009, the EC extended the availability period for the disbursement of the second grant to December 2010, conditional on Lebanon meeting the requirements.
The EU is the first trading partner of Lebanon. Imports from the EU grew by 6.6%, while exports decreased by 28.8% compared with 2008.
In 2009 tariff dismantling on industrial goods took place according to the provisions of the Association Agreement with a view to create a bilateral Free Trade Area. Lebanese industrial and most agricultural products benefit from free access to the EU market. Progressive elimination of tariffs on EU imports into Lebanon will take until 2014.
Lebanon and the EU initialled the Protocol for the Settlement of bilateral trade disputes.
Sector cooperation - examples
Transport: Negotiations on a comprehensive Euro-Mediterranean aviation agreement were launched, aiming at regulatory alignment with EU standards and mutual market opening. They should be concluded in the course of 2010.
Research: The participation of Lebanon in the EU’s 7th Framework Programme is limited and remains below its potential – there were 125 Lebanon applicants, out of which ten listed for an EU budget contribution of € 1.2 million.
Education: In 2007-2009, thanks to Erasmus Mundus grants 91 Lebanese students and academics could pursue studies in EU universities for up to three years.
EU–Lebanon – BACKGROUND
FACTS AND FIGURES
2006: EU- Lebanon Association Agreement entered into force
2007: EU-Lebanon Action Plan was approved
2008: Launch of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM, reinforced Euro-Mediterranean Partnership)
2009: Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) - one project has been approved for an amount of € 4 million in technical assistance, expected to leverage € 111 million in loans of European Finance Institutions in the water and sanitation sector
2007-2010: The ENPI1 envelope for Lebanon is € 187 million
2011-2013: An indicative ENPI envelope of € 150 million announced by the Commission
More info at:
the European Neighbourhood Partnership Instrument