BRUSSELS — This year, assistance to the Palestinians from the European Community Budget is set to amount to around €250 million. This includes a package for the West Bank and Gaza just approved by the European Commission for €124.25 million. Today’s announcement will be followed by the immediate release of a first contribution of €26m to the new Public Financial Management Reform Trust Fund established by the World Bank.
The West Bank and Gaza Strip continue to suffer from a severe economic recession. Income levels have dropped severely and the level of suffering is unprecedented. In response to this, the 2004 programme pursues two objectives: addressing urgent needs and contributing to the creation of a viable and democratic Palestinian state.
Commissioner for External Relations, Chris Patten said: “I am particularly pleased to be contributing to the new World Bank Trust Fund. I am keen for other donors to follow suit which will enable the whole donor community to build on the EU’s record of achieving Palestinian Authority reform by attaching clear conditions to the delivery of financial assistance”.
Public Financial Management Reform Trust Fund, €65 million Created at the request of the Palestinian Authority with backing from the international donor community, the Reform Trust Fund was established by the World Bank in April of this year. The objective of the Trust Fund is to continue improving management of public finances, and the viability of Palestinian Authority institutions. This initiative broadens the conditionality that the EU has always applied to its own assistance to the PA to a wider group of donors, and reflects the recognition in the international donor community of the value of the EU approach. The EU’s immediate initial payment of €26 million will be followed by two further payments. Funds will be made available to the Palestinian Authority following a review of the agreed conditions by the World Bank, in association with the donor community.
Emergency support to social services, €22.75 million. The objective of this programme is to mitigate the deterioration of health and higher education services resulting from the ongoing conflict. Following on from the successful implementation of the first and second Emergency Services Support Programmes, the Commission has approved €22.75 million for a third programme to be implemented through the World Bank.
Middle East Peace Process (MEPP), European Partnership for Peace Programme, €7.5 million The aim of these projects, conducted with a range of partners, is to provide support for initiatives that combat violence and strengthen civil society in the Middle East, in particular those groups in both Israeli and Palestinian society that seek dialogue across cultures.
Implementation of the Palestinian Authority’s reform agenda, up to €5 million. Technical assistance will continue to be provided in key areas of the Palestinian reform agenda. This will build on previous support provided by the Commission to advance reforms in key areas of the Palestinian administration, such as financial control, and good governance.
Reinforcement of the TEMPUS programme, €1 million. This programme, which started in 2003, supports the reform and modernisation of higher education in the Palestinian Territories by developing inter-university co-operation with EU universities.
Money has been set aside, but not yet committed for:
Gaza — Following a recent request of the Council to the Commission to consider developing concrete measures to make a success of the disengagement from Gaza, a reserve for an amount of €20million has been set aside. This will be defined in due course subject to developments on the ground.
East Jerusalem projects — €3 million have been set aside to support civil society initiatives in East Jerusalem with a view to strengthening institutions that are working on the improvement of living conditions in the area.
The package approved today comes on top of around €128 million already earmarked through the following programmes: €89 million through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), (of which €8 million from ECHO); €29 million for humanitarian aid through ECHO; around €10 million for food aid / food security through the World Food Programme and NGOs and for the European Initiative for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR).