The European Union is firmly committed to the objective of two States, Israel and a viable and democratic Palestinian State, living side by side in peace and security in the framework of a comprehensive peace in the Middle East, as laid out in the road map . In this context, a fair solution should be found to the complex issue of Jerusalem, and a just, viable and agreed settlement of the Palestinian refugee issue.
The European Union sees a need to address political, economic/humanitarian and security issues simultaneously. While reform of Palestinian institutions is undoubtedly an important contribution to the peace process and fully supported by the EU, it cannot be regarded as condition for moving on politically. Progress can only be achieved provided the Palestinians can be confident that their institution-building efforts will lead to a viable and functioning state based on democratic principles. Reform and institution-building are a Palestinian enterprise and must come from within.
The peace process and the stability of the region cannot be hostage to terrorism and violence. Terrorist attacks against Israel have no justification whatsoever. The EU strongly condemns all terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and recognises Israel’s right to protect its citizens from these attacks, in accordance with international law. The EU also urges the Palestinian Authority to show determination in the fight against extremist violence and to confront individuals and groups conducting and planning terrorist attacks.
At the same time, the EU continues to call on Israel to withdraw its military forces, to stop extra-judicial killings, to lift closures and all restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people, and to freeze settlement activities and dismantle settlements.
The European Union is determined to contribute in all aspects of the implementation of this Road Map and supports the setting up of a credible and effective third-party monitoring mechanism.
The EU will continue to work with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian society as well as with international partners to promote a resolution to the conflict based on tolerance, respect of democracy and human rights.
The EU has always aimed at finding solutions within the framework of international law, particularly the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions dealing with the status of the Palestinian territories as occupied territories, the settlements issue, and the question of Jerusalem. The European Union’s basic position on the Middle East Peace Process was first formulated by the European Council in its 1980 Venice Declaration and has been repeatedly reaffirmed by subsequent Summit and General Affairs Council meetings. Some of the European Union declarations and ideas are regarded as milestones in the peace process; especially when they have offered ideas for moving forward:
The Venice declaration of 13 June 1980 established the right to existence and to security of all States in the region, including Israel, and justice for all the peoples, which implies the recognition of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
The Berlin declaration of 24 March 1999 introduced the notion of a viable Palestinian state by saying that the European Union is convinced that the creation of a democratic, viable and peaceful sovereign Palestinian State on the basis of existing agreements and through negotiations would be the best guarantee of Israel's security and Israel's acceptance as an equal partner in the region.
The Seville declaration of 22 June 2002 is quite explicit on the expected solution to the conflict: A settlement can be achieved through negotiation, and only through negotiation. The objective is an end to the occupation and the early establishment of a democratic, viable, peaceful and sovereign State of Palestine, on the basis of the 1967 borders, if necessary with minor adjustments agreed by the parties. The end result should be two States living side by side within secure and recognised borders enjoying normal relations with their neighbours. In this context, a fair solution should be found to the complex issue of Jerusalem, and a just, viable and agreed solution to the problem of the Palestinian refugees.
Today, the ideas promoted in these declarations, controversial and daring as they may have appeared to be at the time, have been fully incorporated in the Road Map, endorsed by the international community and adopted by both parties.
3. Who is involved and how?
The European Council (Heads of State of the fifteen Member States and the President of the European Commission accompanied by the Foreign Affairs Ministers and the Commissioner for External Relations) determines the policy principles and general guidelines in the Common Foreign and Security Policy field.
The policy objectives of the European Union regarding the Middle East Peace Process are:
a two-State solution with Israel and a democratic, viable, peaceful and sovereign Palestinian State living side-by-side within secure and recognised borders enjoying normal relations with their neighbours in accordance with UN Security Council Resolutions 242, 338, 1397, 1402, and 1515 and on the principles of the Madrid Conference;
a solution in the Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese tracks;
a fair solution to the complex issue of Jerusalem and a just and viable and agreed solution to the problem of Palestinian refugees.
In June 2000, the European Council also adopted a Common Strategy on the Mediterranean Region, committing itself to support the efforts of the parties to conclude and implement peace agreements and to consider with the help of the High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), the Special Representative for the Peace Process and the Commission what support the Barcelona Process can lend to stability in the Middle East.
On the basis of these guidelines and Common Strategy, the Council of the European Union, composed of ministerial representatives (Foreign Ministers in the case of CFSP) has to take the necessary decisions concerning the formulation and implementation of the CFSP. To that end it adopts common positions, joint actions as well as decisions. Examples of Joint Actions are the support for the Palestinian elections in 1996, and an EU assistance programme to support the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to counter terrorist activities emanating from the Palestinian territories in 2000.
The High Representative for CFSP and Secretary General of the Council, Dr. Javier Solana, assists the Council by contributing in particular to the formulation, drawing up and implementation of political decisions.
The Presidency, rotating every six months, represents the Union in CFSP matters, notably by conducting political dialogue with third countries on behalf of the Union and is responsible for the implementation of CFSP decisions. On that basis it expresses the position of the Union in international organisations and at international conferences. The Presidency is assisted in these tasks by Dr. Javier Solana in association with the European Commission and may also be assisted by the Member State that will hold the following Presidency. These four agents are commonly referred to as the "Troika".
In 1996, the EU appointed Ambassador Miguel Moratinos as its Special Representative for the Middle East Peace Process (EUSR). On 14 July 2003, Ambassodor Marc Otte succeeded him in this post. The EUSR’s mandate is to provide active support to actions and initiatives leading to a final settlement of the conflict; to contribute to the implementation of international agreements reached between the parties and engage with them in the event of non-compliance with these agreements; to report on possibilities for EU intervention and on the best way of pursuing EU initiatives and ongoing Middle East peace process-related EU efforts; to monitor actions by either side that might prejudice the outcome of the permanent status negotiations; and to facilitate cooperation on security issues.
The Commission fully supports the EU's position in the Middle East Peace Process through its participation in the Quartet (consisting of representatives of the USA, the UN, Russia and the EU) and Road Map process. The Commission ensures implementation of CFSP measures decided by the EU with respect to the Peace Process. In this context, it provides support to the EU's Special Representative to the MEPP, Ambassador Otte.
Together with the Presidency, the Commission takes a leading role in the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee and international donors' conferences for the Peace Process, and the international Task Force on Palestinian reform
The Commission is also responsible for the preparation and implementation of assistance programmes to the region. Its External Relations Directorate-General is responsible for drawing up the annual programming of financial assistance. This entails identifying priorities and allocating the different budget lines. Based on this input, the Europe-Aid Co-operation Office (Aidco) establishes the financing plans and manages the projects from the identification to the evaluation phase. Humanitarian aid is managed by the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO).
The EC Delegation to Israel is responsible for managing official relations between Israel and the European Commission. The EC Technical Assistance Office to the West Bank & Gaza Strip (ECTAO) manages the donor assistance programme to the Palestinians and plays its role in the diplomatic community associated with the West Bank and Gaza Strip along with Member States represented locally, and with the EUSR, Ambassador Otte.
The European Parliament has an important role to play when it comes to the determination of the foreign policy position with regard to the allocation of the major technical assistance and financial support programmes to third countries. Parliament also monitors the implementation of current expenditure for which it has responsibility, on the basis of periodic reports provided by the Commission.
4. Support to the Middle East Peace Process
The European Union is:
Promoter of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, and prosperity for the region;
Main donor to the Palestinians and economic partner of Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt;
Key player in the political and economic reform process in the region.
Promoter of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace, and prosperity for the region
The role of the EU in the Middle East Peace Process has increased over the years. The EU is a facilitator in the Peace Process, notably through regular meetings with the main actors involved; visits to the Near East by EU leaders and the EU Troika; and the activities of the EU High Representative Javier Solana and the EU Special Representative for the Peace Process, Ambassador Marc Otte.
Statements on Common Foreign and Security Policy issues (CFSP) by the EU Presidency and joint actions, such as the monitoring of Palestinian elections in 1996 and counter-terrorism activities are only two instruments at the disposal of the Union to support its policy in the MEPP.
The EU is also one of the four partners of the International Quartet, together with the United States, the Russian Federation and the UN. In 2001 Javier Solana participated in the drafting of the Mitchell Report. Subsequently the EU was significantly involved in drafting the road map . The Quartet committed itself to assist and facilitate the implementation of this three phase plan aiming at a final and comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by 2005, on the basis of a goal-driven and performance-based approach. The Quartet meets regularly at senior level to evaluate the parties’ performance on implementation. The European Commission is an integral part of this process.
The EU co-operates with the United States on all issues related to the Middle East Peace Process.
The EU is also a facilitator of regional dialogue through the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership. Although separate, the Barcelona Process and the Peace Process are complementary. Without the 1991 “Madrid Process”, it would not have been possible to launch the Barcelona Process in 1995. One of its successes is to have allowed, against a tense background, dialogue to be pursued between Mediterranean Partners. The Partnership still remains the only multilateral forum outside the United Nations where all the conflict parties meet.
Regional economic, social, cultural and human co-operation foreseen in the framework of the Barcelona Process encourages integration and mutual understanding among the States and peoples of the region.
Furthermore, the EU Partnership for Peace Programme supports the MEPP focusing on local and international civil society initiatives which promote peace, tolerance and non-violence. Its objective is to contribute to the rebuilding of confidence within each society and between societies.
Main donor to the Palestinians and economic partner of Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt
The EU is the largest donor to the Palestinians. Since the beginning of the second Intifadah in September 2000, EU assistance reflects a mix of emergency support, more medium term institution building measures and support to the reform process. Together with Norway, the EU co-chairs meetings of the international donor mechanism, the Ad-Hoc Liaison Committee for Assistance to the Palestinians (AHLC). The Union is also closely involved in local donor co-ordination and the humanitarian assistance group. More information is available under EU financial assistance to the Palestinians.
Bilateral economic and financial co-operation with all parties involved in the MEPP, provided by the MEDA Programme, and other instruments of co-operation aims at creating the conditions for peace, stability and prosperity in the region.
The EU is the biggest trading partner and a major economic, scientific and research partner of Israel. The Union is a major political and economic partner of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.
Key player in the political and economic reform process
EU assistance to Palestinian institution-building and the reform process plays an important role in the MEPP. It helps the Palestinians to implement the Road Map and is a major confidence building measure between the parties. This assistance is instrumental in achieving the main objective of the two-States solution, namely the creation of a viable and democratic Palestinian state. Efforts by the EU, through the conditions attached to its financial assistance package to the Palestinian Authority have already produced a number of positive results such as improvements in the public finance management system.
The EU provides also Technical assistance, through the Technical Assistance component of the new Reform Support Instrument, the judiciary programme and support to the Palestinian elections. Free and fair elections are an essential step to guarantee the success of the Road Map.
Another expression of the EU’s readiness to continue support for Palestinian reform efforts is its leading role in the International Task Force on Palestinian Reform (TFPR), which was established in July 2002. Its objective is to monitor and support the implementation of Palestinian civil reforms, and to guide the international donor community in its support for the Palestinian reform agenda. The Task Force is composed of the United States, EU, the Russian Federation, the United Nations, Norway, Japan, Canada, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Day-to-day activities of the Task Force are undertaken through seven Local Reform Support Groups in the areas of Elections (co-chaired by the EU), Financial Accountability (chaired by the EU), Judiciary (chaired by the EU), Legislative Process, Market Economics, Local Government, Public Administration and Civil Service Reform. These Groups work with the PA to advance the reform plans, monitor implementation, and identify appropriate benchmarks and barriers that impede reform.