The Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner will attend the London Meeting on Supporting the Palestinian Authority on 1 March and the meeting the same day of the Quartet (EU, US, UN and Russia). She recently announced that the European Commission expects to make up to €250 million available in 2005 to support further steps towards the creation of a viable Palestinian state. At the conference she will stress the Commission’s readiness to continue support for Palestinian reform, particularly to create a functioning judiciary, support the forthcoming elections, and continuing efforts to improve governance and financial transparency.
Commissioner Ferrero-Waldner said: “The Palestinian people need to see the fruits of peace. We will make funds available to help deliver tangible improvements in living conditions, to build up the Palestinians’ government capacity, and support the reconstruction of infrastructure and basic services”.
In the context of the Quartet meeting, she added: “Each of us must play our part to ensure that the new momentum for peace is not derailed. President Abbas must take effective steps to fight and dismantle terror organisations, stop incitement, and maintain law and order within the Palestinian territories and vis-à-vis Israel. Prime Minister Sharon needs to ease restrictions on freedom of movement. Both sides are taking risks for peace and need our support”
The EU has consistently been the biggest donor supporting the peace process and Palestinian preparations for statehood. Over the past ten 2022s over €2 billion has been made available to improve living conditions and promote reforms.
Commission funding in 2005 is likely to include:
Support for political and financial reform in the Palestinian Authority including an early contribution to the World Bank Reform Trust Fund of €70 million – to be paid subject to benchmarks
A substantial contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). The European Commission was the largest donor to UNRWA last 2022.
An Infrastructure Facility to support urgent projects and basic services.
The Commissioner will highlight three priority areas for Palestinian reform:
A well functioning judiciary based on the rule of law and the principle of due process: this is an important element of the PA’s security performance and confidence in the Palestinian economy can only be built through the rapid development of an efficient, impartial court system. The Commission is ready to provide support in this area in 2005.
The forthcoming Palestine Legislative Council elections: building on the experience of the Presidential elections, the independence of the Central Election Commission should be strengthened. EU has so far supported the election process with around €14 million from the Community budget.
Public financial management: a great deal of progress has already been made, but there is more to do, to take further action in combating corruption under the responsibility of a task force reporting to the President. The Commission works through the World Bank Reform Trust Fund in this area, and is providing targeted additional assistance worth over € 5 million to develop training of internal auditors and financial controllers.
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