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HR/VP Ashton's visit to the Middle East: Background information on EU relations with the visited countries

European Commission - MEMO/10/75   12/03/2010

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MEMO/10/75

Brussels, 12 March 2010

HR/VP Ashton's visit to the Middle East: Background information on EU relations with the visited countries

EGYPT

Egypt is a key partner for the European Union. Because of its history, geographical location, its political and economic weight and constructive international engagement, Egypt is a major partner for the EU in the context of the Mediterranean, the Middle East, and Africa. The relationship between Egypt and the EU has intensified after the entry into force of the Association Agreement in 2004 and the adoption of the Action Plan in 2007 guiding its implementation. It paved the way for intensified political dialogue, trade liberalisation and economic and cultural cooperation. Trade volumes have increased substantially since then and creation of a free trade area is in progress.

The EU supports Egypt in its efforts in reforming and diversifying its economy. In the years 2007-2010 a financial package of 558 million EUR was provided for the support of good governance, competitiveness and sustainable development of Egyptian economy.

The European Commission has recently announced a new package of 449 million EUR for the upcoming period 2011-2013.

More information can be found on the website of the EU Delegation to Egypt: www.delegy.ec.europa.eu

More information about the financial cooperation can be found on the EuropeAid website:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/where/neighbourhood/country-cooperation/egypt/egypt_en.htm

More information about the Association Agreement and its implementation can be found on the website of the DG External Relations: http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/egypt/index_en.htm

SYRIA

EU-Syria relations are governed by the 1977 Cooperation Agreement. EU and Syria have negotiated an Association Agreement which will allow for dialogue and cooperation on a wide range of subjects as well as for a gradual trade liberalisation. The signature of this Agreement is still pending.

The EU provides assistance to support Syria’s reform agenda. Between 2007-2010 EU assistance to Syria in the sectors of education, health, economic and social policy has reached a financial volume of €130 million. In addition, in 2007 and 2008, the European Commission allocated additional €60 million in support of Syria’s efforts to accommodate the many Iraqi refugees in the country. The assistance aid package for 2011-2013 will increase by 32%, reaching € 129 million in support of economic, social and administrative reforms.

As a member of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, Syria also benefits from regional programmes in the areas of justice, freedom and security, media, civil society, energy, culture, gender and youth issues.

More information can be found on the website of the EU Delegation to Syria

http://www.delsyr.ec.europa.eu

More information about the financial cooperation can be found on the EuropeAid website:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/where/neighbourhood/country-cooperation/syria/syria_en.htm

More information about the Association Agreement and its implementation can be found on the website of the DG External Relations

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/syria/docs/index_en.htm

LEBANON

Today’s legal basis for bilateral relations is laid down in the EU-Lebanon Association Agreement which entered into force in April 2006. With the adoption of the EU-Lebanon Action Plan in January 2007 a new impetus was given to bilateral relations in the framework of the ENP. The political stalemate which prevailed until May 2008 slowed down the process of implementation of the Action Plan. The EU is now giving full support to the new national unity government and its reform agenda and is eager to see Lebanon taking full advantage from the ENP.

A new financial envelope of € 150 million for Lebanon for the years 2011-2013 was adopted on 2 March 2010. It equals to a 7% increase in yearly allocations in comparison to the previous programming period. It will allow the EU to support the implementation of the reform agenda of the new national unity government. Three strategic priorities have been retained – (i) support to the political reform, notably in the area of electoral and judiciary reform, promotion of protection of human rights and security sector reform; (ii) support to socio-economic reform including i.a. education, trade facilitation and infrastructure; and (iii) reinvigoration of the economy where the EU us willing to support the governments’ plans to introduce a decentralization reform. The EU will be also ready to continue its demanding activities and assist government initiatives aiming at strengthening social and economic rights of Palestine refugees in Lebanon.

More information can be found at the website of the EU Delegation in Lebanon http://www.dellbn.ec.europa.eu

More information about the financial cooperation can be found on the EuropeAid website:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/where/neighbourhood/country-cooperation/lebanon/lebanon_en.htm

More information about the Association Agreement and its implementation can be found on the website of the DG External Relations

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/lebanon/index_en.htm

JORDAN

Since the Association Agreement with Jordan entered into force in May 2002, the EU-Jordan relations have substantially developed over the years. The EU values Jordan as a very important partner in both the ENP and the Union for the Mediterranean and is committed to further developing a close, constructive and mutually beneficial partnership with Jordan. In this respect, the ENP will continue to play a catalyst role in boosting the EU-Jordan relations and will continue to provide the platform to develop more profoundly the cooperation in many fields.

With the financial package (amounting to € 223 million) made available for the period 2011/2013, the EU aims at contributing to the development and consolidation of the long-term stability of Jordan through the promotion of internal reform on the political, economic and social fronts.

More information can be found on the website of the EU Delegation in Jordan

http://ec.europa.eu/delegations/deljor

More information about the financial cooperation can be found on the EuropeAid website:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/where/neighbourhood/country-cooperation/jordan/jordan_en.htm

More information about the Association Agreement and its implementation can be found on the website of the DG External Relations

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/jordan/index_en.htm

ISRAEL

Israel has specific, strong historic and cultural links with Europe. Its economic and trade relations with the EU are strong. Israel’s contractual relations with the EU are based on the Association Agreement of 2000. Based on the ENP and the 2005 Action Plan, the development of EU-Israel relations has been dynamic in recent years, and bilateral co-operation has substantially expanded across many sectors. The 2008 EU decision of upgrading relations with Israel has for the moment not materialised, due to the overall regional context, in particular the lack of progress on the Middle East Peace Process. The 2005 Action Plan has been extended until June 2010.

Israel benefits from a yearly allocation of about €2 million/year (€14 million for the period 2007/2013) to support the implementation of the ENP Action Plan, mainly in the form of institutional cooperation (twinning projects).

Israel has been the first non-EU country associated with the EU’s Framework Programmes for Research and Development and is a very active participant.

More information can be found at the website of the EU Delegation in Israel

http://www.delisr.ec.europa.eu

More information about the financial cooperation can be found on the EuropeAid website:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/where/neighbourhood/country-cooperation/israel/israel_en.htm

More information about the Association Agreement and its implementation can be found on the website of the DG External Relations

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/israel/index_en.htm

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

The overarching objective of the EU policy is the creation of an independent, democratic, contiguous and viable Palestinian state. The EU is the largest contributor to the Palestinians, delivering EUR 1 billion (with EUR 500 million from the EU budget) a year, including support to Palestine refugees through UNRWA. The EU and the Palestinian Authority made significant steps towards enhancing political dialogue and reform within the framework of the ENP most notably in the fields of rule of law and public financial management, thanks to which the PA was granted assistance under the Governance Facility in 2009.

The legal basis for the EU’s relations with the PA is the Interim Association Agreement on Trade and Cooperation signed with the PLO on behalf of the Palestinian Authority.

The European Commission is the biggest donor of financial assistance to the Palestinians.

The EU strongly supports Prime Minister Fayyad's state building plan and its commitment to further invest in the Palestinian institutions for the next two years.

More information can be found at the website of the EC Technical Assistance Office in Jerusalem

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/occupied_palestinian_territory/index_en.htm

More information about the financial cooperation can be found on the EuropeAid website:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/where/neighbourhood/country-cooperation/occupied_palestinian_territory/occupied-palestinian-territory_en.htm

More information about the Association Agreement can be found on the website of the DG External Relations

http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/occupied_palestinian_territory/index_en.htm


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