EU Report for Palestine: Steady Progress in Cooperation despite Challenges

EU Report for Palestine: Steady Progress in Cooperation despite Challenges

JERUSALEM, April 23, 2013 (WAFA) – European Representative John Gatt-Rutter and Minister of Foreign Affairs Riad Al Maliki presented Tuesday the 2012 European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) progress report for Palestine, which said that the Palestinian Authority made reasonable progress in implementing the EU – PA Action Plan despite challenges imposed by Israel and the increasing fiscal crisis, said a press release by EU Representative in Jerusalem.

‘In 2012 the Palestinian Authority made reasonable progress in implementing the EU – PA Action Plan in the areas where it is able to exercise control. Yet the challenges imposed primarily by the occupation and the deepening fiscal crisis continued to have an impact on the PA, threatening its viability and undermining its ability to deliver essential services to the population. These realities, coupled with the on-going division between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, the inability to hold national elections and the continued suspension of the work of the legislature all risk seriously undermining the achievements in the state-building process,’ said the release.

The report describes all reforms initiated, carried out successfully, or delayed during 2012 in the different areas of cooperation between the EU and Palestine. Some of the issues reported deserve special attention. In the political area, the democratic legitimacy of the Palestinian Authority continued to decrease in the absence of national elections. A positive development was the holding of local elections. Serious concerns remain regarding freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, particularly in light of the arrests of journalists and bloggers. Regarding trade-related issues, the Agreement between the EU and the PA on the further liberalization of trade in agriculture, processed agricultural, fish and fisheries products, entered into force in 2012. An increasing number of Palestinian students and researchers benefited from different European programs in the education area.

The report provides a series of recommendations on the basis of the EU – PA Action Plan. In 2013 the PA is invited – inter alia – to: (i) work towards the holding of presidential and legislative elections in Palestine in line with international standards and (ii) reform and further develop the Palestinian security sector.

In its annual Progress Reports, the European Commission takes stock of the reform achievements made by countries within the ENP and identifies the areas where further efforts are needed. The European Commission and the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy first published the annual “neighborhood package” on March 2013 which includes progress reports on 16 of EU’s closest neighbors.

Following is the link to the full report:

http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/westbank/documents/eu_westbank/2012_enp_progress_report_palestine_en.pdf

Source: WAFA News