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ENP Country Progress Report 2013 – Palestine1

European Commission - MEMO/14/231   27/03/2014

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European Commission

MEMO

Brussels, 27 March 2014

ENP Country Progress Report 2013 – Palestine1

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

EU-Palestinian bilateral relations in 2013 saw the entry into force of the new ENP Action Plan (AP), a major step forward. The Action Plan articulates the PA's commitment to build Palestinian institutions based on rule of law, democracy and the respect of human rights as a basis for the establishment of a Palestinian State and its determination to develop closer relations with the EU. The AP also reflects the EU's commitment to supporting these objectives. In this context, the EU continued In 2013 to be the major donor to the Palestinian Authority and to UNRWA. The EUPOL COPPS mission is part of the wider efforts of the European Union in support of Palestinian state building in the context of working towards a comprehensive peace based on a two-State solution. The Mission assists the Palestinian Authority in building Palestinian institutions in the areas of policing and criminal justice under Palestinian ownership and in accordance with the best international standards. The EU has also maintained its readiness to reactivate the EUBAM Rafah mission whose main aim is to provide a third party presence at the Rafah Crossing Point.

The Israeli occupation and the restrictions it imposes are heavily hindering Palestinian economic development and remain the biggest obstacle to reforms, especially to the PA's financial sustainability. The lack of progress in intra-Palestinian reconciliation remains a major challenge. The PA's authority is not effective in the Gaza Strip and the Legislative Council is paralysed.

The EU underlined its full backing for the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in August 2013 and reiterated its support for a two state solution based on an agreement on all final status issues, offering a Special Privileged partnership to both parties in case of such an agreement.

In 2013 the Anti-Corruption Commission continued to function effectively, with an increasing number of cases being investigated and referred to the judiciary. The PA also signed the regional Convention on pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin However most of the key recommendations contained in last year's ENP progress report have yet to be addressed, and remain valid. On the basis of this year's report and with a view to sustained implementation of the ENP Action Plan in 2014, the Palestinian Authority is invited to:

  • continue its commendable efforts to take bold and concrete steps towards a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the ongoing negotiation process;

  • advance intra-Palestinian reconciliation in line with the principles set out in President Abbas’ speech of 4 May 2011, based on a commitment to the two-state solution;

  • hold genuine democratic presidential and legislative elections throughout Palestine;

  • increase transparency and accountability of the justice and security sectors;

  • adopt a unified penal code which adheres to international human rights standards and strengthens legal guarantees for all fundamental freedoms including the abolition of the death penalty; meanwhile, fully abide by the de facto moratorium on the death penalty that is in place in the West Bank.

  • develop and implement a policy to address violence against women and women’s socio-economic vulnerability;

  • clarify the responsibilities of the three main judicial institutions namely the Ministry of Justice, the Attorney General’s Office and the High Judicial Council;

  • take steps towards civil service and pension reform and rationalise recurring expenditure, in particular reducing non-wage costs, to ensure better targeting and sustainability over time of social protection spending;

  • continue developing the necessary legal and institutional framework for an integrated water and waste-water management system, to ensure equitable service delivery and resource sustainability throughout Palestine;

  • ratify the Regional Convention on pan-Euro-Mediterranean preferential rules of origin.

Reforms initiated, carried out, or delayed during 2013 in the different areas of EU-Palestinian cooperation are described in the annual country report. Some of the issues reported deserve special attention.

In Gaza, the right to freedom of expression continued to deteriorate, with journalists being attacked by security forces, severe restrictions being imposed on journalists' movements and the Palestinian Journalists' Union still being prevented from holding activities. The de facto authorities imposed increasing restrictions on the operations of civil society. Some NGOs have received a 'dissolution' order. Death sentences continued to be issued and carried out in the Gaza Strip.

Violence against women as well as their overall socio-economic vulnerability remained major challenges for Palestinian society.

On the trade side, a major achievement in the course of 2013 was the finalisation of the comprehensive National Export Strategy (NES), formulated in partnership between the private and public sectors through an EU-funded project. The NES proposes comprehensive measures for export development and the competitiveness of Palestinian products in key sectors. The business climate continues to be hampered by the restrictions on movement and access imposed by Israel on both the West Bank and Gaza and the continued closure of access to the latter territory, severely limiting the effectiveness of EU measures to stimulate the private sector.

EU – Palestine – BACKGROUND

THE POLICY

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

1997: The PLO, for the benefit of the PA, and the EU concluded an Interim Association Agreement on trade and cooperation.

2005: First EU-PA ENP Action Plan was approved.

2013: Second EU-PA ENP Action Plan approved.

FACTS AND FIGURES

The EU is the largest provider of development aid to the Palestinian people with an annual average of €480 million since 2007.

EU Financial Assistance to the Palestinian people from the EU budget is mainly directed at direct and indirect financial support to the PA, Palestine refugees through UNRWA and humanitarian aid. Most assistance is channelled through the EU PEGASE Mechanism (« Mécanisme Palestino-Européen de Gestion de l’Aide Socio-Economique »).

2012: The Agreement between the EU and the PA on the further liberalisation of trade in agriculture, processed agricultural products, and fish and fisheries products entered into force.

2013: Entry into force of the new ENP 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/occupied_palestinian_territory/index_en.htm

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