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Brussels, 22 February 2012

Remarks by High Representative Catherine Ashton at the end of the first meeting of the EU-Jordan Task Force, Dead Sea, Jordan

Thank you very much, it's a pleasure being here.

Before I turn to the subject that brings me to Jordan - because we have so many representatives from the media here - I just want to comment on events in Syria in the last 24 hours. Of the over 30 reported deaths today, the 8317 deaths in the last year, we have 2 deaths that are of particular importance to the media - Marie Colvin from the Sunday Times and French photographer Remi Ochlik. In remembering them and the work they did, journalists looking for the truth in difficult places, we also remember as I have described the 8317 reported deaths in the last year.

Mister Prime Minister, I came to Jordan to fulfil a commitment that I have made here which was to bring together what we have described as Task Force - support and commitment of the EU, its partners, its institutions to demonstrate that we believe in the future of this country.

I begin by strongly commending the leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah. I think that what we saw today was a strong endorsement for the political reforms which His Majesty has undertaken and the economic reforms. I have said many times in the last few hours that economics meets politics. It is really important to see the potential of political reforms linked to the economic opportunities for the people of this country.

Mister Prime Minister, you have made clear too that this year for you is a year of delivery. In return for 12 years of serving your country - I would say serving the world in international corps - you came back to now guide, on behalf of His Majesty, with your team of ministers, some of whom I know very well, the work for what I believe will be a new chapter for Jordan and for the EU. I believe we have opened a new chapter in our engagement with this region. The work of the Task Force represents an additional step for a development of a new relationship based on mutual commitment to closer integration

I believe too, Mr Prime Minister, that we have made clear more than anything that this is your country, these are your reforms and we are here and ready and able to support you in what you wish to do.

I have just signed two agreements from 2011 funds with a total value of 20 million euro to support small medium enterprises and to support research and technological development and innovation.

I am also pleased to announce today that the assistance to Jordan from the EU budget for the period 2011-2013 has been increased by an additional 70 million euro and now amounts to almost 300 million euro (293 m precisely).

We also heard from the European Investment Bank today and I am delighted that they have been able to deal with this; I have met with President of the Bank to talk about support they can provide. They have announced that estimated lending activities in Jordan could total 400 million euro in the next two years: more than doubling its current level of activity in this country. So, I salute the leadership of President Hoyer who I met recently.

I am also very pleased that EBRD has confirmed that it will begin operations in Jordan and plans to scale up its activities to up to 300 million euro annually.

We also heard from the World Bank that their recently adopted country partnership strategy for Jordan foresees a financial support of around 460 million euro for the Government and a minimum of 250 million euro for Jordanian businesses through its private sector, over the next three years.

Now, all of that taken together amends to something of the order about three billion euro of financial support from the European Union and its partners over the next three years: to support the political reforms and to support the economic growth and change.

Now, what we have confirmed too was the commitment of the many CEOs in our discussions this afternoon that they too want to invest in this country and to see through its future as linked to their own. I am sure that in the coming days they too will be announcing their commitment which is part of what the Task Force is designed to do.

I also want to confirm that we have agreed to start negotiations on a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement that will be launched in the coming weeks, with the view of starting negotiations; that EU and Jordanian entrepreneurs will establish a “business to business” forum to strengthen economic relations, building on the very constructive dialogue that we had today and yesterday. And the EU and Jordan will start a dialogue on migration, mobility and security with a view to agreeing a Mobility Partnership.

I speak very often about the 3 Ms - Money, Market Access and Mobility. Those three are very much at the heart of the work Task Force is engaged in. All in support of Jordan’s own reform efforts, with the aim of also deepening the relationship between the EU and Jordan. To provide greater support because you as our partner are engaged in building deep and sustainable democracy for your future. And the EU is ready to provide greater support to partners engaged in this, on the basis of differentiation, mutual accountability and more for more.

We wish you success and we are proud to be partners with you on the journey.

For more information:

EU-Jordan Task Force - Co-chairs conclusions

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