"As is" reference - not a United Nations document
The European Union is committed to supporting progress towards a two-state solution to the conflict in the Middle East. All sides have accepted that this will require a process of reform by the Palestinian Authority itself. The Quartet (EU, US, UN and Russia) is supporting a process of administrative, financial, economic and judicial reform including preparation of elections in early 2003. The sum of €5.45 announced today will support the smooth implementation of these initiatives. In addition, €2.5 million has been approved to fund an EU Election Observation mission. In the meantime, the EC continues to be the principle donor of assistance to keep basic public services running in the Palestinian Territories, and has consistently used this assistance to promote reform.
Commissioner for External Relations Chris Patten said: "Despite the extremely difficult security situation the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian Legislative Council must continue to advance the reform agenda. Today's announcements are designed to support work that can progress even in the current circumstances. We continue to urge Israel to play its part in removing obstacles to the reform and peace process - notably by ending curfews, closures and the witholding of tax revenues".
The Quartet firmly supports the PA reform plan as a necessary measure to overcome the current impasse. An EC election Exploratory Mission (July 2002) confirmed that the holding of elections in line with international standards needs to be concretely backed by the International Community. In this context the EU will operate a Election Observation Mission, to increase the transparency of the process, and the confidence of the electorate, in the presidential, legislative and municipal elections planned for the New Year.
The sum of €5.45 million will support urgent activities in key sectors of EC assistance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including support for the preparation of elections to the Palestinian Authority. It will cover specialised technical assistance to the Commission's input to the Reform Support Group, for preparing, managing and supervising the EU contribution to the election process.
EU budgetary support to the Palestinian Authority also continues at the rate of €10 million a month. The European Council 12th and 13th December in Copenhagen underlined that this assistance will continue, under clear conditions, with the aim of supporting reforms in the Palestinian territories. This financial assistance has already contributed to substantial improvements in the financial management of the Palestinian Authority, and has also been conditional on the adoption of a law guaranteeing the independence of the judiciary, and the Basic Law.