Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2012-05-09-Speech-3-161-000"

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"Mr President, in the last year, we have seen unprecedented developments in our southern neighbourhood. The European Union must therefore provide full support to these countries in their paths towards democracy and prosperity, not least through our trade and investment policies. Last but not least, the Commission will also invest in student mobility and academic exchanges. We put 743 additional Erasmus Mundus mobility grants at the disposal of southern Mediterranean students and academics for the 2011-2012 academic years, and there will be more of these in the coming years, including for the future Erasmus for All programme. Mr President, honourable Members, the Arab Spring presents a major challenge for the EU in terms of accompanying our partners towards democracy and a market economy. This will not be an easy task – you are well aware of the complexity of trade and investment negotiations. We hope we can count on the European Parliament’s support. Last year, I had preparations stepped up for negotiations on deep and comprehensive free trade areas with the four WTO members undergoing democratic transition. We have also sought to maintain negotiations under older mandates, namely on agriculture, services and industrial standards. With the exception of services negotiations with Morocco, we did not advance far enough, but this was largely due to administrative changes on the other side, with transitional governments deploying resources to achieve other priorities. We did, however, manage to unblock the revision of pan-Euromed rules of origin between the EU, EFTA, Turkey, the Mediterranean and Western Balkans partners. We continue to push for a timely completion of this process. In December 2011, the Council finally adopted negotiating directives for deep and comprehensive free trade areas with Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. The main objective of these future negotiations will be the progressive integration of the economies of these partners into the single market. We have begun preparations for negotiations in March with Tunisia, Morocco and Jordan. We are ready to initiate negotiations as soon as the preparatory process is completed, based on an assessment of the commitment of each partner to long-lasting democratic and economic reforms. As with eastern neighbourhood partners, negotiations will be subject to key recommendations by the Commission. These agreements will be comprehensive, covering a full range of regulatory areas of mutual interest such as trade facilitation, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, intellectual property rights, public procurement and competition policy. They will also include provisions on investment protection and on further liberalisation of goods, services and establishment as appropriate. The Commission will take into account, in negotiations, the different economic situations and priorities of each partner country as well as their sensitivities. The Commission agrees on the need to enhance our trade relations on the basis of the more-for-more principle with countries where a deep and comprehensive FTA is not immediately possible, such as Libya, Lebanon or Algeria. The immediate priorities should be their accession to the World Trade Organisation, and contacts in this respect continue. With Libya, we also need to define the most appropriate trade framework for our relations. In all the actions undertaken, we will continue to encourage economic integration within the southern Mediterranean region, which is still poorer than anywhere else in the world. An integrated Mediterranean market will be much more attractive for investors. We will continue to support efforts to reinforce the Agadir agreement between Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia and to extend it to other regulatory areas through trade and services, investments and public procurement. This also includes providing financial assistance and expertise to the members of the Agadir agreement, and we will continue to support industrial cooperation. Since 1995, we have been sharing knowledge and good practice in spurring entrepreneurship and improving the business and investment climates across the Euro-Mediterranean area. Industry ministers of the EU and the southern Mediterranean adopted the Euro-Mediterranean Charter for Enterprise in 2004. This policy document provides guidelines for conducting reforms and promoting small and medium-sized enterprises, which employ as much as 25% of the workforce in the region."@en1

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