PA, EU Finalize Joint 5-Year Action Plan

RAMALLAH, December 15, 2012 (WAFA) – The Palestinian Authority (PA) and the European Union (EU) finalized last week their joint action plan for the next five years, the first in the region to be completed within the framework of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP), according to a statement.

The Jerusalem office of the European Union said in the statement that the Palestinian and European committees concluded in a meeting held in Ramallah on Wednesday a new action plan that will guide their future bilateral relations.

The EU representative to the Palestinian Authority, John Gatt-Rutter, praised the work of the committee saying that the PA was the first partner in the ENP with whom the EU have concluded a new action plan.

“During the past year we have had in-depth policy dialogue across a wide variety of sectors,” he said, describing the topics covered in the committee meeting demonstrate “that our bilateral partnership with the Palestinian Authority is both ambitious and comprehensive.”

He said the PA has demonstrated its ability to be a full partner for the EU within the Neighborhood Policy.

“The real challenge will thus be to move ahead with our mutual commitments despite the difficult political and financial situation that the PA is in,” he said. “The hard work must and will continue in the spirit of trust and openness, which guided all our discussions today.”

The joint committee reviewed progress in bilateral relations over the past year and discussed plans afoot following the conclusions of negotiation of the new Joint Action Plan, which will guide the EU – PA relations for the next five years, said the EU press release.

Around 30 officials from PA ministries and the European Union convened to exchange their views on all key political, economic and development sectors.

The meeting was the eighth time representatives from the two sides have met as part of this high-level policy meeting. It was also the first time the joint committee has taken stock of the work done during the year on the committee’s expanded group of six separate policy dialogue forums on issues ranging from human rights to trade.

The Palestinian side was headed by Mazen Jadallah, advisor to Prime Minister Salam Fayyad on Institutions Performance Affairs, and Christian Berger, director for North Africa and Middle East in the European External Action Service, represented the European side.

“The successful holding of this Joint Committee and the increased PA ownership of the ENP process is testament to the strengthened institutional capacity of the PA,” said the EU statement. “The EU has been instrumental in supporting the Palestinians in their state-building efforts. These efforts will continue following the Palestinian enhanced non-member observer state status at the United Nations.”

The joint committee is currently the highest level body bringing together officials from the EU and the PA. It takes place on an annual basis in Brussels and Ramallah in the context of the ENP and the EU – PA Joint Action Plan.

The EU – PLO joint committee reviews the work done by a total of six policy dialogue forums, known as subcommittees, which cover human rights, good governance, rule of law, trade, internal market, agriculture, education, culture, social affairs, energy and water issues.

Source: WAFA News