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French Version

EU provides additional support to National Agenda

Director General for External Relations of the European Commission, Mr Eneko Landaburu, announced that the European Commission (EC) has allocated an extra €20 million to Jordan this year to contribute to the implementation of the National Agenda.

Landaburu focused on the importance of implementing Jordan’s National Agenda, saying that it was decisive for the country in its progress towards reform. He welcomed the debates on political reform stressing on civil society participation, women’s rights and the election system vis-à-vis the political parties.

During his visit to Jordan on June 12 – 13, Landaburu held meetings with the deputy Prime Minister and ministers of Foreign Affairs, Planning and International Cooperation, and Political Development and Parliamentary Affairs.

In his meeting with Foreign Minister Abdul Ilah Al-Khateeb, Landaburu described his visit to Jordan as “successful”, adding that he discussed the political situation in the region and exchanged views over Iraq as well as the developments in the Palestinian territories. He told a press conference at the end of his visit to the country, “This meeting is devoted to support the national agenda of Jordan and get a better understanding on how the agenda will be implemented.”

Landaburu said the EC plans to launch many programs in several fields in order to support the National Agenda’s objectives that will lead to more democratic practices in the country. “We will do this by using part of the money to support some concrete projects in public reform, the implementations of laws as well as initiatives in financing local NGOs and through technical assistance,” he added. He said that this additional assistance to Jordan is offered without condition; he was answering a question raised at the press conference. Landaburu commended Jordan’s implementation of the Action Plan, saying that it has helped in drawing EU financial assistance to the country and facilitated identifying priority areas to support the implementation of the National Agenda. He referred to a progress report that will be submitted at the end of the year on the implementation of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) and the role it will have in further developing the partnership and encouraging reforms.

The primary objective of the National Agenda is to formulate a general framework that would stop fluctuations and irregularities in government performance and set stable, flexible and modern policies for the period 2007-2013. The initiative also seeks to improve citizens’ quality of life through the creation of income-generating opportunities, an improved standard of living, and the guarantee of social welfare. The country is the second largest recipient of EU assistance per capita after the Palestinian territories.

Since 1997, when Jordan signed the Association Agreement, total aid to the country has reached over €570 million. According to the EC Delegation in Amman, Jordan receives annual assistance of around €60 million through MEDA Program. Landaburu recalled Jordan’s status as a long-standing and much appreciated partner of the EU. He highlighted Jordan’s strong commitment to political and economic reform, even under difficult circumstances, as a reason for the EU to see great value in deepening its partnership with Jordan. The different subcommittees set up under the EU-Jordan Association Agreement reflect the depth of this partnership and provide a forum for dialogue to further develop the relationship. This deepening of relations with the partners is the objective of the ENP. Under this policy, the EU and Jordan have jointly defined an agenda for cooperation over the coming years, a tailor-made ENP Action Plan for Jordan. The policy also provides a framework for continuing to develop a political dialogue.

The ENP is an example of the EU foreign policy being more than traditional diplomacy or any repackaging of traditional relationships. It is a truly modern foreign policy, harnessing and integrating instruments from across the spectrum—from support for human rights to judicial reform, support for institution building, increased political dialogue and cooperation on crisis management. The Action plans are tailor-made for each country’s needs and complementary to other processes in which the countries participate, such as the Euro-Mediterranean Barcelona process.

Because they are agreed with and are based on the needs of partners, there is a greater sense of ownership. Landaburu acknowledged the difficulty of reaching a national consensus and that the path to modernization is not an easy one. He welcomed the debates, which are taking place, as dialogue between many different actors of the Jordanian society that will help to build a solid basis for the future of Jordan. Regarding a question on Iraq, he said, “We are open to start negotiations over free trade with Iraq, adding that Europe would need to put many conditions prior to such negotiations that are still to be worked on.” He added that Europe has allocated €200 million to enhance the process of development and democracy in Iraq. Landaburu has been the Director General of External Relations at the EC since 2003. He has held various portfolios including the post of director general of the EU enlargement and chief negotiator with candidate countries. Landaburu’s visit follows a trip by External Relations Commissioner Ms Benita Ferrero-Waldner to the country during which she was introduced to the National Agenda.

The main objective of Landaburu’s visit was to reaffirm the support of the European Union for Jordan’s path to modernization. In his several meetings he discussed the implementation of the National Agenda and found this reform program of very high quality and ambition as well as very appropriate to address the challenges of the country.

The Star

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