President, Honourable Members,
Let me first thank the Rapporteur, Mr. Emmanuel Maurel, and the INTA Committee for their valuable work on this report. I also thank the AFET and BUDG Committees for their support.
As you know, Jordan is among those partner countries facing enormous political and economic challenges due to the regional conflict and the influx of more than one million Syrian refugees. The intensification of the conflicts in Syria and Iraq led to a deterioration of the macroeconomic situation in Jordan in 2015 with trade, the tourism sector and gas supply being particularly affected. It is in this broader context of regional conflict, and with every intention to support Jordan and its people during this difficult time that the Commission submitted its proposal for a Macro-Financial Assistance operation.
The international community has continued to fully support Jordan in this difficult situation and pledged about EUR 10 billion at the so called "London Conference" of February 2016 for countries affected most by the Syrian refugee crisis. The EU pledge at this conference of EUR 2.4 billion included a EUR 200 million Macro-Financial Assistance loan. The EU-Jordan Partnership Priorities approved recently by the Council also include the prospect of this Macro-Financial Assistance. In view of these international commitments, it is crucial that the European Parliament and the Council agree on the proposed Macro-Financial Assistance of EUR 200 million to Jordan so that this support can be effectively and swiftly delivered.
Of course, the new Macro-Financial Assistance operation will be subject to fulfilment of a number of economic reforms. Jordan must satisfactorily implement the programme of the International Monetary Fund as well as the policy measures to be agreed between the EU and Jordan in a Memorandum of Understanding. Once agreement on the proposed loan is reached, we will work to quickly agree the policy measures with our Jordanian partners. It is likely that these would cover measures in the areas of public finance management, fiscal reform, the social safety net, and access of Syrian refugees to the labour market – measures that would help Jordan withstand the economic pressures it is currently facing while securing a stable future for its people.
I am pleased that the European Parliament and the Council were able to agree on the final text in Trilogue on 27 October 2016 with two amendments that the Commission can support. In accordance with the joint statement of the three institutions agreed, the Commission will, in 2017 and if appropriate, submit a new proposal for Macro-Financial Assistance, provided that the usual preconditions for this type of assistance are fulfilled and on the basis of an updated assessment by the Commission of Jordan's external financing needs.
I am pleased to underline that the Council already confirmed – two weeks ago – its approval of the Commission proposal, subject to the approval of this Parliament. I hope, therefore, that you will choose to vote positively on the proposal and accompanying compromise. We need to move ahead quickly to achieve a positive impact in support of Jordan and the Jordanian people. And I hope we will have your full support going forward.