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    C/98/421

    Brussels, 30 November 1998

      13461/98 (Presse 421)

 

2141th Council meeting

D E V E L O P M E N T

 Brussels, 30 November 1998

    President:  Ms Benita FERRERO-WALDNER

    State Secretary for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria

S U M M A R Y

PARTICIPANTS  

3

POINTS DISCUSSED

CONFLICT PREVENTION
- Arusha Peace Process - Cooperation with Burundi - Conclusions  4
- Strengthening of peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution - Conclusions  4
HURRICANE MITCH - Conclusions  8
PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT
- Sustainable tourism in developing countries - Resolution  9
- Private sector development  11
OPERATIONAL COORDINATION  12
EVALUATION OF EU DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION  12
POST-LOME NEGOTIATIONS  13
HUMANITARIAN AID  13
POINTS ADOPTED WITHOUT DISCUSSION

DEVELOPMENT

Democratisation, rule of law, respect for human rights and

good governance - Conclusions 

I

Indigenous peoples - Resolution  II
Microfinance and poverty reduction - Conclusions  IV
EXTERNAL RELATIONS
Future assistance to the West Bank and Gaza Strip - Conclusions  V
Kazakhstan - trade in certain steel products  VI

For further information call 285.87.04 or 285.63.19

The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:

Belgium:

Mr Réginald MOREELSState Secretary for Development Cooperation, attached to the Prime Minister
Denmark:
Ms Ellen LØJState Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Germany:
Ms Heidemarie WIECZOREK-ZEULFederal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
Greece:
Mr Stelios PERRAKISSecretary General for European Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Spain:
Mr Fernando María VILLALONGA CAMPOSState Secretary for International Co-operation and Latin America
France:
Mr Charles JOSSELINState Secretary attached to the Minister for Foreign Affairs, with responsibility for Cooperation and the French-speaking World
Ireland:
Ms Liz O'DONNELLMinister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs (with special responsibility for Overseas Development Assistance and Human Rights)
Italy:
Mr Rino SERRIState Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Luxembourg:
Ms Lydie ERRState Secretary for Foreign Affairs, External Trade and Cooperation
Netherlands:
Ms Eveline HERFKENSMinister for Development Co-operation
Austria:
Ms Benita FERRERO-WALDNERState Secretary for Foreign Affairs
Portugal:
Mr Luís AMADOState Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
Finland:
Mr Pekka HAAVISTOMinister for Development Cooperation
Sweden:
Mr Mats KARLSSONState Secretary for International Development
United Kingdom:
Ms Clare SHORTSecretary of State for International Development
Commission:
Ms Emma BONINOMember
Mr João de Deus PINHEIROMember

CONFLICT PREVENTION

Arusha Peace Process - Cooperation with Burundi

- Conclusions

"The Council welcomes the progress achieved in the Arusha process so far and thanked for his invaluable contribution the former President of Tanzania, Mwalimu Nyerere. It is prepared to continue to support this process.

It welcomes the intention of Mwalimu Nyerere to propose the suspension of sanctions, which would pave the way for making first steps towards the resumption of cooperation. Full development cooperation should resume only after a peace-agreement between all parties.

The Council recognizes that development cooperation can play an important part in reinforcing the peace process, both through an equitable balancing of measures of reconstruction and through direct support to democratic institution building and takes note of the intention of the Union to act accordingly.

The Council asks the Commission to pursue its discussions with the Burundi government, with a view both to rapid implementation of the support already envisaged for refugees and rehabilitation, and to additional support for human rights and strengthening of democratic institutions and the judicial system."

The role of development cooperation in strengthening of peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution

- Conclusions

"1. The Council underlines its continuing concern with violent conflicts in developing countries that are causing great human suffering and have devastating effects on local and regional economies, social structures and the environment. The Council recognizes that development cooperation policy has an important potential for contributing to the prevention of such violent conflicts, in particular by addressing the underlying developmental factors of conflict and focusing on opportunities to help prevent violent conflicts at an early stage. The Council recalls that EU policy on activities contributing towards peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution will be decided and implemented by the Union and its Member States and, where competence exists, by the Community.

2. The Council recalls that the European Union has already adopted several documents concerning peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution, notably the 1995 conclusions on "Preventive diplomacy, conflict resolution and peacekeeping in Africa", the 1997 resolution on "Coherence" and the 1997 conclusions on "Conflict Prevention and Resolution in Africa". The Council furthermore recalls the 1996 Commission communication on "The European Union and the issue of conflicts in Africa: Peace-building, conflict prevention and beyond".

  In this context, the Council re-states that the approach to peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution that has been developed within the Union, mainly in view of the African continent, should be extended to all developing regions, and should also inform the actions of individual EU Member States.

  The Council also recalls the OECD-DAC guidelines on Conflict, Peace and Development Cooperation on the Threshold of the 21st Century and recalls the ongoing discussions within other international fora, notably within the UN. The Council furthermore welcomes in particular the development aspects of the UN Secretary-General's recent report on causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.

3. The Council underlines that the peoples concerned must take a lead role in peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution, and underlines that viable solutions can only be achieved through enhanced local ownership. Activities must, to the largest extent possible, build on local capacities and institutions. The impact of the Union's policies (including trade and development policies and humanitarian aid) on prospects for peace, democracy and stability must also be considered. Coherence between political, economic, developmental, social and environmental instruments should be ensured. It is also necessary to ensure that these operations are coherent with the European Union's external activities as a whole, including the common foreign and security policy.

4. Recognising that economic decline and extreme poverty may reinforce tendencies to resort to violent means, the Council emphasises that economic growth alone does not prevent violent conflict. Development assistance, if deployed in disregard of the overall political situation in developing countries, may even have unwanted effects. In order to minimise such negative effects, and to make full use of the potential of

  development cooperation to contribute to peace, democracy and stability, the Council confirms its view that development assistance should be designed and implemented in a way that it helps to address the root causes in a targeted manner, by support for:

  - the balancing of political, social, economic and cultural opportunities among different identity groups within developing countries;

  - the strengthening of democratic legitimacy and of effectiveness of governance;

  - effective mechanisms for the peaceful conciliation of group interests and for the bridging of dividing lines among different identity groups;

  - a vibrant civil society.

  Measures in the field of the respect for human rights, the rule of law, democratization and good governance have an important role to play in this regard.

5. Furthermore, the Council recognises the need to strengthen efforts to implement the basic principles, approaches, guidelines and recommendations which it has laid down. To this end, and with the objective of facilitating the establishment of an effective development policy, which together with other policies, contributes to peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution, including through capacity building within aid administrations, the elaboration of practical tools, and by enhancing coherence, coordination and complementarity of the activities of the Community and its Member States, the Council recommends that the relevant experts should examine the development of:

     - operational guidelines concerning the integration of conflict prevention aspects into the design and implementation of development projects and programmes. These should build on existing guidelines and codes of conduct;

     - criteria for the individual appraisal of the impact of the development policies of the Community and its Member States on peace, democracy and stability in developing countries;

     - a practical handbook on the contribution of development cooperation to peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution, which is to contain a well-categorised list of programmes, projects and activities in support of these objectives, as well as information concerning the practical experience gained within the Community and its Member States.

6. In addition, the Council notes the Commission's intention to enhance coordination, coherence and complementarity inter alia through a rapid exchange of information between experts from Member States and the Commission.

7. The Council will review the progress made in the aforementioned areas after one year, on the basis of a report by the Commission."

HURRICANE MITCH - AID FOR CENTRAL AMERICA

- Conclusions

"The Council emphazised the grave humanitarian and economic situation in Central America following hurricane MITCH.

The Council welcomed the rapid response to date by the Commission and Member States to the consequences of this catastrophe for the region by the provision of humanitarian aid.

The Council stressed the urgent need that now exists for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the Central American region, and the need to address the long term social, economic and environmental issues involved. The Council welcomed the Commission's initiative to prepare an Action Plan on medium- and long-term reconstruction efforts in Central America which should be submitted urgently to the Council and should be discussed in the next few months at a ministerial meeting with the San José Group of countries.

The Council stressed the grave debt situation of the countries affected and the need for the international community to address as a matter of urgency, their short- and long-term debt situation. It also recalled its Conclusions on 23 November 1998 and noted that it would come back to this issue.

The Council considered it necessary to ensure maximum effectiveness in addressing the consequences of hurricane MITCH, and, in this context, emphasized the need for all bilateral and multilateral donors, including the Community and the Member States, to pursue a coordinated and coherent approach.

Therefore, the Council

    - requested the Permanent Representatives Committee to continue to address this issue and to monitor progress of work, including a coherent approach;

- invited the Commission to report to it as soon as possible on the progress of work."

PRIVATE SECTOR DEVELOPMENT

Sustainable tourism in developing countries

- Resolution

"1. The Council welcomes the Commission communication on tourism and development. It considers support for a viable tourism sector which respects the environment and local, social and cultural traditions, as an important contribution to sustainable development.

2. The action of the Community and the Member States in this field should be seen in the framework of the development of the private sector to which the Council attaches great importance in particular because of its contribution to economic growth and reducing poverty which are major objectives of the Union's development policy.

3. The Council believes that projects and programmes in the field of tourism should take account of the need to:

       maximise the contribution of tourism to the economic and social development of the country;

   minimise existing or potential negative effects of tourism;

   maximise the contribution of tourism to poverty eradication.

4. The action of the Community and the Member States should aim to support the authorities of the beneficiary in planning, regulation and encouragement of private initiatives and in taking account of the interests of local populations. This support should help governments to:

       measure the performance of the tourist industry and assess its present or potential economic, social, cultural and environmental effects at macro-, meso- and micro- level;

       define and update sustainable and gender-sensitive tourism development strategies with clear, realistic and measurable objectives;

       develop an appropriate institutional, legal and methodological framework, to implement strategy in coherence with sustainable development policy and local initiatives to avoid negative impact from tourism development;

   contribute to the fight against "sexual tourism" in particular concerning children ((1));

       promote a partnership with the private sector and the setting up of new partnership models, excluding direct financial contribution in the budget of tourism promotion organisations;

       ensure the participation of civil society, local communities and indigenous peoples in the process of the development of tourism so that they receive maximum benefit;

       ensure that where employment opportunities are generated, these should conform to ILO labour standards.

5. European aid should help to support the role of the private sector in an open, competitive market economy, by encouraging dialogue between professionals in the sector, to create an interface for consultation with the public authorities and develop the institutional and professional capacities of the partners concerned. Rather than create specific instruments, private sector support instruments could be mobilised for undertakings in the tourism sector.

6. In view of the particularities of this sector, where the quality of services, infrastructure and the preservation of the natural and cultural heritage are essential, it is important that the public authorities ensure:

       the continuing development of human resources, including from the local populations;

   socially and environmentally sensitive investment in related public infrastructure;

   the protection and sustainable management of their heritage.

7. With a view to contributing to the full implementation of partner country strategies in the area of tourism, the Council invites the Commission and Member States to ensure adequate coordination in order to allow joint action and, where appropriate, to develop useful methodology.

  The Community and its Member States will reinforce operational coordination between partner countries, themselves and other donors, in accordance with the Guidelines on operational coordination adopted in March 1998 in order to improve efficiency and ensure complementarity of their actions and efforts."

Private sector development

The Council held an exchange of views on the development of the private sector in developing countries, on the basis of the Commission's recent communication. It addressed in particular the links between the role of the private sector and the environment, gender and poverty eradication strategies; the priority for an implementation strategy rather than a policy strategy; and the role of local participation in framing the strategy and identifying the support programmes.

It instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to proceed with the examination of the communication with a view to adopting a Resolution on this topic at its next session.

OPERATIONAL COORDINATION

The Council discussed the strengthening of the operational coordination between the Community and the Member States in the field of development cooperation, on the basis of the Commission's interim report on the implementation of the guidelines adopted last March.

The Council noted the progress achieved and invited Member States and the Commission to persist in the field work in a pragmatic manner in order to ensure a more dynamic and proactive implementation, aimed in particular at strengthening the role of local governments in this process of reinforced coordination.

EVALUATION OF EU DEVELOPMENT COOPERATION

The Council held an initial exchange of views on the global evaluation of EU development cooperation (aid to ACP countries, Asia and Latin America and Mediterranean region, as well as humanitarian aid).

The Council noted that the overall synthesis report of this evaluation will be shortly available and instructed the Permanent Representatives Committee to examine it with a view to preparing a substantive debate at its next session. It also noted that in the meantime work should begin immediately on the available reports on aid to the ACP and to the Mediterranean region.

POST-LOMÉ NEGOTIATIONS

The Council heard a report by Commissioner Pinheiro on the state of the ongoing negotiations opened with the ACP countries on 30 September 1998 with a view to concluding a EU-ACP partnership agreement for development to succeed the Fourth Lomé Convention in the year 2000.

The Council took note with satisfaction of the fact that the first negotiation meetings had been held in a spirit of cooperation, expressing the will of both parties to make progress in the definition of a new global EU-ACP agreement. In this context it noted that an informal meeting will be held with the ACP side on 3 December in order to promote the mutual understanding of the parties' negotiating positions.

The Council welcomed the fact that the Commission was actively pursuing the negotiations on the basis of the mandate defined by the Council on 29 June 1998, in the prospect of the first session of negotiations at Ministerial level in Dakar on

8-9 February 1999.

In this context, several delegations intervened to mark the importance they attach to the strict respect of the commitments taken in the framework of the EU's negotiating mandate as concerns the progressive improvement, from the year 2000, of the least developed countries' access to the Community market.

HUMANITARIAN AID

The Council took note of a paper put forward by the French delegation on the security of humanitarian staff and invited its competent bodies to discuss the issue further in order to allow the Council to reach a decision on this topic at a forthcoming session.

The Council also heard interventions by the Belgian and Italian delegations on humanitarian aid in Kosovo and Sudan, and stressed the importance of ensuring the transportation of aid to populations in need.

OTHER DECISIONS

Adopted without discussion.

DEVELOPMENT

Democratisation, the rule of law, respect for human rights and good governance

- Conclusions

"1. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, the Council recalls the importance of EU activities in the sphere of development co-operation and in accordance with the Union's external policy in supporting efforts to promote democracy, respect for human rights the rule of law and good governance.

  The Council's Resolution of 28 November 1991 on human rights, democracy and development remains an important basis for Community and Member State activities in this field. The revised Lomé IV Convention lays down that human rights, democratic principles and the rule of law are an essential element of ACP-EU co-operation and that good governance is one of its objectives. The Council adopted on 25 May 1998 a Common Position which defines its policy in this area towards Africa.

2.  The Council welcomes the Commission communication on democratisation, the rule of law, respect for human rights and good governance: the challenges of the partnership between the European Union and the ACP States. It notes with interest the general approach proposed by the Commission, in particular the action plan concerning further concrete steps for future co-operation in this area, including the work on an analytical approach.

3.  The Council reaffirms that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated. They must be guaranteed to all persons without discrimination and observed by all countries irrespective of their form of government. The Council recognises that co-operation must be conducted in full partnership with the country concerned, involving the civil society. Cooperation also has to take into consideration a country's own history, as well as its socio-cultural and economic characteristics. All actions should take into account and fit into a continuing evolving process towards strengthening the respect for human rights and promoting democracy, the rule of law as well as good governance. Therefore a permanent dialogue between the EU and developing partners has an important role to play, in particular during the current negotiations with the ACP countries.

4.  The provisions of the Lomé Convention constitute significant progress in this field and the experience gained in ACP countries should also serve as a basis for developing relationships with other partner countries.

5.  The Council underlines the importance of coordination in this area with international organisations, namely the UN and its agencies and the World Bank, as well as regional organisations. It also welcomes the ongoing cooperation with the Development Assistance Committee of the OECD.

6.  The Council reiterates the usefulness of regular meetings of Commission and Member State experts in order to consider appropriate concrete steps to implement policy in this area, and in particular with a view to exploring possibilities to prepare a geographically horizontal approach.

7.  The Council will review progress in 2000 and will consider further steps to be taken."

Indigenous peoples within the framework of the development cooperation of the Community and the Member States

- Resolution

"1. The Council recalls the conclusion of 5 June 1997 inviting the Commission to present a policy paper on cooperation with and support for indigenous peoples. The Council welcomes the Working Document of the Commission on support for indigenous peoples in the development cooperation of the Community and the Member States.

  The Council also takes note of the international instruments addressing indigenous peoples, in particular the UN Resolution on the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, the 1992 Rio Declaration, together with the Convention on Biological Diversity, the 1993 Vienna Declaration and the ILO Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. These call for the International Community to ensure the economic, social and cultural well-being of indigenous peoples, their enjoyment of the fruits of sustainable development and their full and free participation in all aspects of society.

2.  Indigenous cultures constitute a heritage of diverse knowledge and ideas, which is a potential resource to the entire planet. Consequently, the Council acknowledges the importance that indigenous peoples attach to the affirmation of their "self-development", that is to say, the shaping of their own social, economic and cultural development and their own cultural identities. This approach also recognises their own diverse concepts of development, and asserts that they should participate fully and freely in the development process. It is also important to take into account the various country contexts in which indigenous peoples live and to encourage the full participation of indigenous peoples in the democratic processes of their country. To overlook their participation may have unforeseen or even negative impacts on indigenous peoples.

3.  The Council recognises that many indigenous peoples live in developing countries where they often experience economic, social and political marginalisation and are exposed to recurrent violations of human rights.

4.  Furthermore, many indigenous peoples inhabit areas crucial for the conservation of biodiversity, and maintain social and cultural practices by way of which indigenous peoples have a special role in maintaining and enhancing biological diversity and in providing unique sustainable development models. The Council reiterates the political will of the EU and its Member States to participate actively in the initiatives in the framework of the Convention on Biological Diversity for supporting local and indigenous peoples in their contribution to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity.

5.  The Council recognises that cooperation with and support for the establishment of partnerships with indigenous peoples is essential for the objectives of poverty elimination, sustainable development of natural resources, the observance of human rights and the development of democracy. The Council notes in particular:

       the key role played by indigenous peoples in the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources;

   the positive contribution of indigenous peoples in the development process;

       the vulnerability of indigenous peoples, and the risk that development programmes may disadvantage them;

       that indigenous peoples have the same rights as everybody else to a secure livelihood, and the lifestyle of their choice, and should be treated equally in the legal framework; they should also have access, on a non-discriminatory basis, to the opportunities and natural resources required to achieve these aspirations, as well as multilingual education and health services;

       that indigenous peoples have the right to choose their own development paths, which includes the right to object to projects, in particular in their traditional areas. This includes compensation where projects negatively affect the livelihoods of indigenous peoples.

6.  The Council acknowledges that the development cooperation should contribute to enhancing the right and capacity of indigenous peoples to their "self-development". This implies integrating the concern for indigenous peoples as a cross-cutting aspect at all levels of development cooperation, including policy dialogue with partner countries and enhancing the capacities of indigenous peoples' organisations to take an effective part in the planning and implementation of development programmes.

7.  A number of international development agencies and various EU Member States have already developed policies and strategies to improve the positive impact of development cooperation on indigenous peoples. The European Commission is cooperating with and supporting indigenous peoples through a wide range of policies, programmes and projects and has taken several initiatives in order to prepare a more comprehensive approach towards indigenous peoples.

8.  The Council also recognises the importance of coordination between the Community and the Member States to avoid duplication of efforts and to increase the effectiveness and adequacy of development support for indigenous peoples. This will require mechanisms for consultation, coordination and implementation.

9.  The Council recognises the need for a comprehensive policy, including gender aspects for working with indigenous peoples, and invites the Commission to develop further with Member States and in cooperation with indigenous peoples the comprehensive policy outlined in the Commission's Working Paper, with particular emphasis on practical ways to implement this policy. The primary focus should be on integrating the concern for indigenous peoples in existing procedures, guidelines and manuals for development cooperation. This will require further development of methodology in order to ensure indigenous peoples are able to offer an informed view on activities envisaged so that their full participation throughout the project cycle is ensured. Bearing in mind the extreme heterogeneity of the various indigenous peoples in different parts of the world, consideration should be given to the development of specific strategies for specific circumstances.

10. In this context the Commission and Member States should as soon as possible examine the means to produce specific practical procedures for its aid practitioners, illustrating key issues to be considered in order to ensure that the particular needs of indigenous peoples are fully

  taken into account throughout the project cycle, drawing on the tools used in the participatory approach to development and social impact assessments. The Council suggests that the measures proposed should be discussed with indigenous peoples and other partners who have interest in the integration of indigenous peoples into the development process, including local population, regional and local authorities, NGOs and other actors in civil society and the private sector. The expert group on social development should examine the feasibility of these measures, review the status of implementation of the action plan outlined in the working document on a regular basis and suggest, where appropriate, further action to implement the policy guidance on cooperation with and support of indigenous peoples.

11. The Commission is asked to report back to the Council with a review of progress in working with indigenous peoples in the second half of the year 2000."

Microfinance and poverty reduction

- Conclusions

"The Council welcomes the Commission's communication on Microfinance and Poverty Reduction and the main policy orientations of the document, in particular the need to ensure the sustainability of microfinance institutions.

The Council notes with interest the work undertaken on gender and microfinance, as well as the related methodological guidelines.

The Council invites the Commission to pursue the work further in specific areas, where appropriate in close cooperation with Member States' experts, as follows:

- to enhance understanding of specific mechanisms for promoting credit and saving activities for the poorest, while ensuring the sustainability of microfinance institutions;

- to develop Community understanding of certain "unresolved issues" in the communication, such as best practices regarding guarantee funds and apex organisations;

- to proceed further with the integration of the policy proposed in the communication through Community development cooperation and actions, where appropriate.

The Council invites the Commission and Member States to strengthen training efforts in this area, both in Europe and in the developing countries, especially in the context of new partnership arrangements with the ACP countries. The Council also invites the Commission to prepare, where appropriate, after consulting an EU expert Group on microfinance, further action plans to implement the policy guidance on microfinance for poverty reduction.

The Council encourages the Commission and Member States to pursue and strengthen coordination efforts within the Community and with other Donors, in particular in international fora, especially within the framework of the Consultative Group to Assist the Poorest (CGAP). In particular, the Council requests the Commission to identify the means, both financial and other, by which the Community can contribute fully to CGAP."

EXTERNAL RELATIONS

Future assistance to the West Bank and Gaza Strip

- Conclusions

"With a view to the Ministerial meeting of donors in Washington on 30 November 1998, the Council recalls its conclusions adopted on 23 February 1998 on the Commission Communication on the role of the European Union in the Peace Process and its future assistance to the Middle East. The Council also recalls its conclusions of 9 November 1998 in which it stressed the Union's commitment to work closely with all parties, in ways which reflect the EU's leading role, during the preparation of, at and in the follow up to the Ministerial meeting of donors to economic development in the West Bank and Gaza, foreseen for 30 November in Washington, thereby ensuring its success.

In this context, the Council agrees on the following elements on which to base the EU position during the Washington Donors Conference:

1. In the 1994-1998 period, the EU (including the EIB and the Member States) has been by far the main donor to the Palestinians providing around 54% of the total assistance. By the end of 1998, the EU will have committed around 1,489 MECUs to the Palestinians as follows:

  441 MECUs in grants

  184 MECUs in EIB loans

      more than 864 MECUS in bilateral contributions from Member States

 In addition, around 503 MECUs were made available to UNRWA's general budget as follows:

 

  168 MECUS from the Community budget

  more than 335 MECUS in Member States' bilateral contributions

2. The Union urges all parties to implement fully the Wye Memorandum and other existing agreements. Subject to the provisions set out in paragraph 3 below and taking account of the effective assessment of Palestinian needs and priorities, the EU will announce for the period 1999-2003 a pledge of around 400 MECUs in Community budget grants, in the understanding that this commitment depends on the future adoption of the Community financial perspectives which have not yet been agreed.

 The EIB will be requested to continue its effort to support further viable investment projects over this coming period, in the first instance, under the existing Mandate for the Mediterranean countries (1997-January 2000) and thereafter, under its future mandate, post-January 2000.

 The Member States' pledges will be announced at the Ministerial meeting of donor and the total forecast of the EU contribution will be summed up by the EU Presidency.

3. The aim of the EU, and of the Community aid programme in particular, is to ensure economic development and regional integration, so as to trigger sufficient private sector investment flows into the region, thereby bringing the living conditions of the Palestinian population of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to acceptable levels.

 The Union recalls the conclusions of the European Council of Cardiff in which it called on Israel to recognise the right of the Palestinians to exercise self-determination, without excluding the option of a State, and upon the Palestinian people to reaffirm their commitment to the legitimate right of Israel to live within safe, recognised borders.

 In this sense, the priority of the EU for the coming period will be to develop the conditions that will improve the prospects for a viable Palestinian self-determination. This implies focussing on the following actions that will allow a healthy development of the Palestinian economy, taking into account the horizontal elements in the EU's development cooperation policy:

      the reconstruction of the physical, social and economic infrastructures of the West Bank and Gaza Strip;

      building up the institutions needed for an efficient, transparent and accountable Palestinian Administration based on the principles of the Rule of Law as well as fundamental rights and freedoms;

      facilitating, in line with the principles of Euro-Mediterranean partnership, direct Palestinian access to and through Israel as well as to the rest of the world, in particular through free and unfettered trade with the region, including Israel, and with the rest of the world. In this context, the Gaza airport, Gaza seaport, Gaza industrial park and safe passages are essential. Furthermore, the EU recalls its willingness to ensure the effective implementation of the EC-PLO agreement;

      the development of the necessary legal and regulatory framework as well as of institutions for private investment and development of a civil society.

 Continuation of the EU dialogue with Israel on problems facing the Palestinian economy is intended with a view to support these actions.

4. The Council believes it is necessary to set up quadripartite coordination (Israel, Palestinian Authority, United States, European Union), in particular to monitor the settling of interim economic matters. In addition, and with a view to reinforcing the role of the Union in the coordination mechanisms, it recommends that an enlarged meeting of the ad hoc Liaison Commmitee for Aid to the Palestinians (AHLC) should be held in Europe."

Kazakhstan - Trade in certain steel products

The Representatives of the governments of the Member States, meeting within the Council, adopted a decision renewing for six months (from 1 January to 30 June 1999) the autonomous arrangements applicable to imports from Kazakhstan of certain steel products covered by the ECSC Treaty, given that it has not yet been possible to reach an agreement since the Council authorized the Commission to negotiate the renewal of the ECSC Agreement with Kazakhstan in October 1996.

(1)()See Council Statement of 26 November 1997 on Combating Child Sex Tourism.


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