Priorities for EU’s 2013 cooperation with MENA countries unveiled

Libya and Algeria may soon fully participate in the European Union’s cooperation instrument for its North African and Middle Eastern neighbors and receive more European aid by 2013.

The countries’ full engagement in the European Neighborhood Policy is among expected outcomes outlined in a recent progress report on the strategy. The ENP guides the bloc’s engagement with its closest neighbors.

The progress report assesses the activities conducted under the policy since it was revised in May 2011 to take into account uprisings and democratic transitions in North Africa and the Middle East. Among the features of the revised policy is a partnership approach focused on supporting democracy and institution building, civil society development, economic growth and job creation in Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.

Algeria is among the 16 countries originally covered by ENP but only expressed interest to participate in the revised policy in December 2011. The European Union is now working with the country to develop an action plan. The bloc is also working with Libya on ways to expand assistance for economic development, institution building, democratization and rule of law. At present, Libya only benefits from the ENP through the policy’s multilateral track.

Aside from the completion of negotiations with these two countries, the report identifies broader targets for the region, including the launch by mid-2013 of a new EU-funded initiative to support small and midsize enterprises. The European Union is also preparing a program for the political and social empowerment of women across the region.

The proposed funding allocations for 2013 for specific countries and sectors include:

  • €75 million ($95 million) for the modernization of Morocco’s budget and administration transparency. The country could also receive €50 million for its justice sector reform efforts.

  • €30 million for Jordan’s justice sector, €10 million for the media and civil society, and €5 million for security.

  • €12 million to promote social justice in Lebanon.

  • €20.5 million for governance and state building in the Palestinian territories.

  • €20 million for justice sector reforms and €53 million for security projects in Tunisia.

These funds will be drawn from the remaining budget of the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument, which supports the ENP, through 2013, when the current budget cycle ends. For the 2013-2016 cycle, the European Commission has proposed allocating €18.18 billion for the instrument.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.