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Consolidating democratic institutions, promoting a sustainable economy and improving the quality of life for all Palestinians, at the focus of EU – Palestinian relations in 2014-2020
The European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI) will help to provide greater incentives to the Palestinian Authority to carry out further policy reforms in crucial sectors such as justice and security, human rights and good governance, and energy and water, says the EU Representative, John Gatt-Rutter, in an interview with the EU Neighbourhood Info Centre.
The interview is part of the series Three Questions to the Ambassador produced by the Info Centre.
The full text follows:
1. Which are the three main priority areas of cooperation in your country in the new programming period 2014-2020?
Co-operation in Palestine takes place in very particular circumstances, in the context of Israeli occupation, with an Authority which does not have the full powers of a state government and where part of the Palestinian territory, the Gaza Strip, is run by de facto authorities with which the EU has no relations.
Despite all these challenges, the EU remains at the forefront and committed to state-building in Palestine as part of its support for a two state-solution to the conflict. Consequently the EU is continuing to support the Palestinian Authority's institution-building process and help ensure efficient service delivery for all Palestinians. In this context, the EU will continue to provide direct financial support for the Palestinian Authority's recurrent expenditure, will support the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem and provide funding for Palestine refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
In line with the new European Neighborhood Instrument (ENI), EU financial cooperation will shift from an annual programming to a two-year programming covering 2014-2015.It will remain at approximately the same level (around €300 million per year) and closely aligned with the EU political objective of establishing an independent, democratic and sovereign state of Palestine living side-by-side with Israel and its other neighbors in peace and security.
In an effort to consolidate Palestinian democratic institutions, promote a sustainable Palestinian economy and improve the quality of life for all Palestinians, the EU will focus its assistance on the following sectors, which correspond to priorities identified by the Palestinian Authority and its new Palestinian National Development Plan 2014-2016:
(ii) Private sector and economic development;
(iii) Water and land development.
In the light of the complex reality on the ground, the new ENI will provide greater flexibility to the EU to respond more effectively to unforeseen challenges imposed primarily by the occupation, the current divisions between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and the serious uncertainties surrounding the fiscal sustainability of the Palestinian Authority. Moreover, taken together with the EU-Palestine Action Plan, which serves as an agreed blueprint for partnership and reform, the ENI will help to provide greater incentives to the Palestinian Authority to carry out further policy reforms in crucial sectors such as justice and security, human rights and good governance and energy and water. Finally, the EU has recently pledged to provide an unprecedented package of political, economic and security support to Palestine in the context of a final status agreement.
3. If you had to mention only three concrete examples of successful cooperation in your country which would they be?
Certain types of medical treatment, such as radio therapy for cancer, heart surgery for children or neurosurgery, cannot be provided by hospitals in the West Bank or Gaza. Patients who require such treatments are referred by the Palestinian Authority to one of the six East Jerusalem hospitals, which are an integral part of the Palestinian health system. For a number of years the EU has worked closely with the World Health Organization and the hospitals to make sure all patients receive the best possible health service. The EU support has allowed the hospitals to improve the quality of their health services and upgrade their status to the highest international standards. In the last couple of years, the East Jerusalem Hospitals faced major cash flow problems, which jeopardized their operations. The EU was among the few donors that responded imminently and helped the hospitals maintain their important services for the benefit of the Palestinian people. Our support to the East Jerusalem Hospitals does not come in a vacuum. It is part of our East Jerusalem programme which seeks to improve the socio-economic condition of Palestinians living in the city.
Without EU support the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) would not be in a position to address the essential needs of millions of Palestine refugees and promote human development through education, health and relief services. This is particularly important in Gaza where more than half of the population are refugees. The longstanding and severe restrictions on the movement of people and goods have made day-to-day living conditions of people in Gaza ever harsher. Aside from the crucial services provided by UNRWA, the EU provides support for the population of Gaza in a number of sectors where we have the strongest impact, such as water, social protection and human rights.
Through the PEGASE Direct Financial Support programmes, the EU is helping the Palestinian Authority meet its recurring expenditure with regards to salaries, pensions and social allowances in a regular and predictable manner whilst it moves ahead with structural and policy reforms (annual average of €150 million). PEGASE is a mechanism for channelling EU assistance in support of the Palestinian Authority and implementing its development and reform priorities.
For example, the EU is covering almost half of the annual public expenditure on social allowances reaching thousands of Palestinian families living in extreme poverty in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Meanwhile, it also supporting the Ministry of Social Affairs in developing a fully-fledged social protection system in line with international standards.
Find out more…
Info Centre Palestine webpage
Assistance to Palestine
EuropeAid Palestine webpage
Palestine photo gallery