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"As is" reference - not a United Nations document

Source: European Commission
19 May 2004


Brussels, 4 May 2004

Leading donors agree on joint efforts towards better coordination of activities in the Middle East and North Africa / Mediterranean region

The European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the World Bank today signed a joint Memorandum of Understanding aimed at enhancing donor coordination in the Middle East and North Africa / Southern Mediterranean region. The agreement signed in Brussels by senior officials from the three institutions will lead to a more focused and complementary approach at all levels from programme implementation to aid programming and overall policies.

Despite the region's rich cultural history and heritage, its vast wealth of natural resources and its undoubted development potential, it is nonetheless beset by many challenges and a vast prosperity gap between countries North and South of the Mediterranean. The growth performance of most countries has proved to be insufficient to tackle poverty and unemployment. Almost 100 million new jobs need to be created in the coming two decades to guarantee employment for today's unemployed workers, and future, first-time job-seekers.

There is increasing awareness among the donors in the region that major improvements are needed in welfare for all citizens. The EU's Barcelona Process and Neighbourhood policy, the EIB's Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) and the World Bank's regional strategy testify to their commitment and engagement. To date, the donors' policy response has been to focus more closely on economic, institutional and sectoral reform through broader engagement with the countries and partnerships with civil society.

While each of today's signatories has its own mandate and domains of policy emphasis, these are very complementary. The European Commission, the EIB and the World Bank are natural partners for development in the region, representing major financing and technical capacity and strong collaboration at programme and sectoral levels. An aggregated approach would avoid duplication and competition of efforts while facilitating focus on the respective strengths of the partners. The objective of the Memorandum of Understanding is to further enhance, structure and streamline the coordination process. For that purpose the agreement envisages institutional coordination, coordination of technical work, jointly financed projects and a joint progress review.

The principal beneficiaries of such an agreed and coordinated approach at regional, country and sectoral levels would be the countries of the region, who in the past may have suffered the adverse side-effects of donor fragmentation. A coordinated approach starting on a pragmatic basis and linking EC grant assistance operations, EIB project financing and World Bank loans and technical capacity will enhance the efficiency of each partner's efforts in responding to the region's needs.

The European Commission already has similar Memoranda of Understanding with leading donors in the new Member States / candidate countries and in the New Independent States.

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