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ENP Country Progress Report 2013 – Lebanon

European Commission - MEMO/14/227   27/03/2014

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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 27 March 2014

ENP Country Progress Report 2013 – Lebanon

The 2014 annual “Neighbourhood Package” consists of a joint Communication (“Neighbourhood at the Crossroads”) and a set of country specific and regional reports. The report on Lebanon underlines key/main developments and reform efforts in 2013 and makes recommendations for the future.

Despite the political, security and refugee crisis affecting the country, Lebanon remained committed throughout 2013 to a strong level of engagement with the EU. Lebanon and the EU agreed to start implementing the second ENP Action Plan as from the beginning of 2013. The extent and intensity of EU support to Lebanon substantially increased, especially in addressing the consequences of the Syrian crisis as regards security, social services, and refugees and their host communities. Lebanon continued to be a major destination for refugees from Syria (approximately 974,400 by the end of March 2014). Commendably, Lebanon kept its borders open for refugees, which strained its resources.

During the reporting period Lebanon took up several of the recommendations contained in the 2012 Progress Report, including some limited progress toward ACAA negotiations as well as drafting legislation on public procurement, fight against corruption, and migrant workers. That legislation, however, was not adopted by parliament. On the basis of the assessment of the progress made in implementing the ENP in 2013, Lebanon is encouraged to focus its efforts in the coming year on:

  • keeping in place an effective government able to address the immediate challenges facing the country and the needs of the Lebanese people, while ensuring that legislation is duly discussed and decided upon by parliament;

  • enhancing the national response to the presence of refugees from Syria in coordination with international partners, UN agencies and humanitarian organisations, including by improving the legal framework and swiftly concluding negotiations on a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR);

  • continuing direct dialogue among political forces on the basis of the Baabda Declaration to address immediate needs emanating from the Syrian conflict, while aiming at a broader future-oriented agreement including on the election of a new President and issues of national defence;

  • continuing full support for developing the capacity of accountable and democratically controlled security forces, in particular the Lebanese Armed Forces, to enable them to deal effectively with security challenges, integrated border management, law enforcement, and other obligations;

  • carrying out an electoral reform in due time before the November 2014 legislative elections, taking into account international standards and recommendations of the previous EU electoral observation missions;

  • progressing on public finance management, particularly by adopting a national budget, and also with a view to adopting and implementing legislation on corruption, as well as ensuring availability of data (staffing the statistics authority);

  • enhancing the protection of human rights and fighting all types of discrimination, particularly with regard to vulnerable populations (including full implementation of the existing laws on migrant workers);

  • taking forward the justice reform, especially with regard to ensuring the independence of judicial appointments, restricting the jurisdiction of military courts, improving prison management and detention conditions, and fighting impunity at all levels including through full cooperation with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon;

  • taking urgent measures to improve energy supply and limit power cuts, as first steps in a broader overhaul of the energy sector, encompassing also the development of renewable energies, energy savings, and exploitation of oil and gas;

  • promoting sustainable growth and jobs through support to productive activity and trade, including re-launching efforts towards WTO accession and signing and ratifying the Regional Convention on pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin.

Reforms initiated, carried out successfully, or delayed during 2012 in the different areas of cooperation between the EU and Lebanon are described in the annual country report. Some of the issues reported deserve special attention.

Lebanon did not advance toward ratifying key international instruments such as the ICC Rome Statute or the Geneva Refugee Convention. Overall, human rights and fundamental freedoms were generally well-respected in Lebanon. However, the National Human Rights Action Plan, announced in 2012, was not adopted during the reporting period. Despite the relative media freedom, censorship continued to be used against alleged blasphemy and insults of religion. As regards combatting corruption, a legislative package from late 2012 was not implemented, which prevented further progress. Lebanese civil society, while vibrant, continued to have little influence on policies.

In the political area, pending challenges include increasing the efficiency and independence of judiciary, improving management of prisons, abolishing the death penalty, improving the treatment of migrants and refugees and increasing the participation of women in political and social life.

In trade-related issues, there have been only limited developments in Lebanon's WTO accession negotiations. With respect to the free movement of goods and technical regulations, limited progress was made in the preparations for negotiations on an Agreement on Conformity Assessment and Acceptance of Industrial Products (ACAA).

EU–Lebanon – BACKGROUND

THE POLICY

The European Neighbourhood Policy governs the relations between the EU and Lebanon.

2006: EU-Lebanon Association Agreement entered into force.

2007: EU-Lebanon Action Plan was approved.

2008: Launch of the Union for the Mediterranean.

FACTS AND FIGURES

2009: Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) - one project was approved for an amount of EUR 4 million in technical assistance, expected to leverage EUR 111 million in loans of European Finance Institutions in the water and sanitation sector.

2007-2010: The ENPI envelope for Lebanon was earmarked at EUR 187 million.

2011-2013: The new National Indicative Programme (NIP) (2011-13) for Lebanon was adopted in May 2010 with a EUR 150 million budget. The programme is geared towards supporting the achievement of key policy objectives: (1) support to political reform (allows developing support to the reform agenda of the Lebanese government), (2) support to social and economic reforms (helping develop the private sector and to improve the living conditions of the population through various actions covering e.g. energy, education and environment), and (3) support to reconstruction and recovery (focusing on economic recovery of all regions and improvement of living conditions of the most vulnerable parts of the population, including Palestinian refugees).

2011: The Association Committee held its first meeting since 2007 and sub-committees resumed their work.

2011: Preparations for a new ENP Action Plan were launched.

2012: Negotiations concluded on a new Action Plan.

For further information

Press release: Neighbourhood at the crossroads – tacking stock of a year of challenges (IP/14/315), 27 March 2014

For the Joint Communication check the EEAS website at http://eeas.europa.eu/enp/index_en.htm

Website of Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/fule/index_en.htm

Website of High Representative and Vice President of the European Commission, Catherine Ashton: http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/ashton/index_en.htm

European Commission: European Neighbourhood Policy

http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/index_en.htm

http://www.enpi-info.eu

http://ec.europa.eu/world/enp/documents_en.htm

http://eeas.europa.eu/lebanon/index_en.htm


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