| THE EUROPEAN UNION AND
To implement its policies concerning
the Euro-Mediterranean region, the European Union has set up a series
of tools and programs: the Euro-Mediterranean partnership and the
MEDA program; the ECIP program for small and medium-sized enterprises;
the MEDA-DEMOCRAZIA program aimed at promoting
human rights; the Life-Third Countries program; etc.
The Euro-Mediterranean partnership was first defined in the Declaration
of Barcelona, adopted on November 28th 1995 by the 15 Ministers
of Foreign Affairs of the European Union and by the Foreign Ministers
of the 12 Mediterranean Partner Countries beneficiaries of the MEDA
program: Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta,
Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Gaza and Cis-Jordan territories. Its contents
were confirmed and strengthened by the Second Ministerial Conference
which took place in Malta on last April 15th-16th. It is a political
agreement between the European Union and the Countries of the Mediterranean
Basin, aimed at addressing southward the relationships that the
Union has been developing with Eastern Europe Countries since 1989.
The Euro-Mediterranean partnership is based on
three different fields of action: politics and security, economy
and finance, society and culture. Therefore it includes several
initiatives, which cover several sectors. Among the main ones: re-approaching
of sectorial economic policies, which is a process specially active
in industry, telecommunication, energy and water sectors; Euro-Mediterranean
cooperation networks aimed at supporting knowledge exchange (industrial
federations, economic institutes, chambers of commerce, banks, etc.);
cooperation in the statistic field; cooperation in civil society
(universities, professional associations, non-governmental bodies);
the cultural heritage whose purpose is recognizing mutual traditions
and developing the cultural dialogue; the effort in building an
area of peace and stability by identifying a number of principles
to be respected and of aims to be achieved.
The partnership has been provided with important
economic resources in order to perform its actions. Such resources
were established by the European Council in Cannes in June 1995,
and they are in force until the year 1999. They include non-repayable
aids from the Union's budget (4,685 millions ECUs), and a similar
amount consisting of loans granted by the European Investment Bank.
Most of non-repayable aids are granted by the MEDA program. These
aids are managed by the European Commission together with the MED
Committee, which is made up of representatives from the member Countries
and presided over by a representative from the Commission itself.
The MEDA program is mainly aimed at encouraging and supporting social
and economic reforms in the Mediterranean partner countries, through
two channels: 1) bilateral actions, which use about 90% of the total
amount and are started by the association agreements between the
European Union and each beneficiary country; 2) regional initiatives,
including decentralized cooperation that is being re-launched, which
involve several North and South Mediterranean Countries.
Bilateral actions are based on national programs defining the priority
sectors to be supported on the basis of the guidelines, identifying,
at the same time, the estimated amounts for each sector. The main
sectors are: economic transition support, through structural reorganization
and development programs in the private sector; social and economic
balance consolidation; development of the Civil Society.
The regional initiatives include thematic meetings, conferences
and programs, involving both the Mediterranean partners and the
European Countries. All this makes clear that the financial effort
related to the MEDA program is not essentially aimed at granting
a direct funding to enterprises or companies. On the contrary it
is aimed at preparing the conditions required in order to allow
their development and work. As for proposals concerning possible
projects, they have to be accepted by the authorities of the beneficiary
countries and based on the above mentioned guidelines in order to
be considered by the European Commission.
The aim of ECIP (European Community Investment Partners) program
consists in promoting the institution or the development of "joint-ventures"
among small and medium-sized companies from the Mediterranean, Latin
American, Asian and South African Countries. The ECIP program provides
4 types of financial facilities.
“MEDA-DEMOCRAZIA” is a cooperation program aimed at
promoting human rights and democracy development in the Mediterranean
partner countries. Created at the initiative of the European Parliament
in 1996, the program grants aids to no-profit associations, Universities,
Research Centres and public Bodies in order to realize projects
aimed at promoting democracy, freedom of expression and association,
and safeguarding specific groups, such as women, young people and
minorities. The granted funds for this kind of projects can total
a maximum of 80%.
The purpose of LIFE-Third Countries consists in starting technical
assistance measures and pilot actions in Third Countries (in the
Mediterranean area, besides the “MEDA Countries”, Albania,
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia), in the following sectors: technical
assistance to set up the required administrative structures aimed
at developing environmental policies and action programs; environmental
safeguard and recovery of important habitats for flora and fauna
at risk; pilot actions designed to promote sustainable development.
The total budget for the period 1996-1999 amounts to 36 MECUs. Maximum
50% of each project submitted by public administrations, NGOs, individual
or juridical persons from the beneficiary countries, can be financed.
The lines of the European Union’s budget established for
NGOs in the sectors of direct aid, food aid, humanitarian aid, human
rights and decentralized cooperation, etc., can also be applied
to the Mediterranean Partner Countries.
In general, the partnership system is aimed at improving the efficiency
and competitiveness of the Italian enterprises in the international
context, performing a function of operational linking and strategic
guidance. In the concrete, all this can be accomplished by performing
actions of assistance, which are started at a Government "policy
advice" level in the planning stage and then fulfilled in identifying,
through Embassies and ICE branches abroad, and circulating international
cooperation projects (technical assistance, industrial and commercial
cooperation, technology transfer, etc.) financed by a variety of
players/institutions (European Union, Bers, EIB, World Bank and
The targeted involvement of enterprises proceeds with actual supporting
initiatives during the successive tendering steps. Information received
by the Schemes is treated and circulated through three databases:
the international cooperation initiative database, the enterprise
database and the expert database.