EURO-MEDITERRANEAN CONFERENCE OF MINISTERS OF INDUSTRY
Klagenfurt, 4 October 1998
The participants in the second Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Ministers of lndustry held in Klagenfurt, Austria, on 4 October 1998
1. RECALLING the essential role of industrial co-operation in creating a Euro-Mediterranean area of shared prosperity as envisaged in the Barcelona Declaration of 28 November 1995;
2. REAFFIRMING that this objective can be achieved through the gradual introduction of free trade, the implementation and success of economic transition processes and the revitalisation of investment in the countries concerned;
3. RECALLING the decision, taken in the Brussels Declaration of 21 May 1996 adopted by the participants in the first Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Ministers of Industry, to examine further the priority issues indicated in the context of the Work Programme that was established, to adopt the necessary measures and, where appropriate, to update the Work Programme;
4. HAVING REGARD to the results of the Euro-Mediterranean Industrial Summits in Marrakech in 1996 and in Athens in 1997,
HAVE ADOPTED THE FOLLOWING CONCLUSIONS:
I. Implementation of the Work Programme:
The two working groups set up following the Brussels Declaration to consider the development of the industrial and entrepreneurial fabric on the one hand and the legal and administrative framework on the other are the main forum for identifying specific measures, defining priorities for action and drawing up joint Euro-Mediterranean industrial cooperation projects. All participants are urged to make an active contribution to these working groups. The working groups will furthermore look at options and ways for their technical reinforcement, including appropriate participation by representatives of Euro-Mediterranean industry, as a further step in the dialogue established within the Brussels Declaration.
The progress made by these working groups should be stressed. The launching of two projects in the fields of industrial zones and specialised service centres, financed under the MEDA programme, and the report on "Foreign direct investment in the Mediterranean Partners: legal aspects and promotion" attest the value of such cooperation. The working groups should therefore continue their activities and extend their tasks to cover other areas within the Brussels Declaration. The working groups and the European Commission will concentrate their efforts on the swift implementation of the pilot projects already drawn up. They will ensure improvement of the synergies with National Indicative Programmes and the Regional Indicative Programme.
Discussions on the means of gradually eliminating any obstacle that might affect the dynamic of trade and investment should be encouraged. Special emphasis should be given to issues related to competition, commercial laws, rules of origin and the harmonisation of standards and attestations of conformity, within the framework of the appropriate implementation rules. The consequences of the introduction of the euro for industrial cooperation should also be examined.
The Conference endorses the action plans approved by the working groups and requests them to submit regular reports on their implementation.
Progress has also been made in cooperation between Euro-Mediterranean economic operators. Networks of Euro-Mediterranean chambers of commerce and industry, trade fairs, economic research institutes, trade promotion associations and associations of craft industries and SMEs, financed by the MEDA programme, are now in place. These networks are intended to intensify transfer of know-how and give encouragement to practical cooperation through durable partnerships.
The results of this work need to be disseminated, in particular by the working groups, among the industrial and other economic operators of the European Union and the Mediterranean Partners so as to increase the flow of investment and optimise the way it is channelled to those countries.
II. Infrastructure as a factor for investment
The key role of infrastructure with regard to company investment was reaffirmed by the Ministerial Conference.
A particular effort needs to be made by the Mediterranean Partners to provide infrastructure of sufficient quantity and quality for receiving investment, both domestic and foreign, and to ensure optimum access to transport networks as well as energy and communication networks, while guaranteeing a high degree of environmental protection. Furthermore financial infrastructure also needs to be improved.
As a result of economic transition, technical progress and the introduction of new financing techniques, the private sector is encouraged to be more closely involved in the development of infrastructure. The European Union will contribute to that effort through the MEDA National Indicative Programmes as well as the Regional Indicative Programme and also through the granting of loans from the European Investment Bank's own resources, which play a complementary role in speeding up the development of infrastructure. The programme for private sector participation in Mediterranean infrastructures, launched jointly by the European Commission and the World Bank, is also a major contribution.
III. The promotion of investment
In addition to free trade, one of the main vehicles for economic and social development and the creation of a Euro-Mediterranean area of prosperity is private investment. The promotion of both foreign and domestic investment will have to rest on a stable legal, administrative and economic framework that is sufficiently transparent and reliable from the point of view of industrial operators.
As regards foreign investment, the Ministerial Conference noted the benefits of transfers of technology and know-how associated with capital flows. Action to promote and canvass external investment in the Mediterranean Partners should be carried out regularly in the countries of the European Union. The emphasis should be on better information about the Partners and the investment climate. Such promotion could be conducted, in particular, by the working groups, which will make every effort to identify the measures and action required for such promotion, either on the basis of bilateral or multilateral relations or at a regional level, as applied in the context of the two Conferences on investment and investment financing and on Capital Markets, held in London in 1997 and 1998. Further efforts towards the creation of investment rules, in all relevant multilateral fora, constitute an important step in this direction.
The Ministerial Conference stressed the essential part played by investment by SMEs in the process of economic transition taking place in the Mediterranean Partners. Partnerships and the development of subcontracting with local businesses through access to the relevant Community programmes should be promoted to speed up investment in existing small and medium-sized enterprises and help to create new ones, particularly by women and young entrepreneurs. The organisation of business forums (MED-Partenariat and MED-Interprise), the promotion of sectoral partnership
actions, as well as the introduction of the Information Society and new means of
communication (ICT), are important instruments in this regard.
The Ministerial Conference reaffirmed the importance of the Mediterranean Partners having access to the Information Society. It emphasises the great value of continuing the encouraging discussions that have already begun following the Ministerial Conference in Rome. Priority should be given to the promotion of investment in Information Society technologies as well as in their applications aimed at the economic development of the Mediterranean basin. It also supports the European Commission initiative to launch a substantial regional action for the construction of the Euro-Mediterranean Information Society.
In addition to the back-up facilities provided by the countries receiving investment, the contribution from financial institutions in the European Union – whether those of the Member States or the European lnvestment Bank itself – is an important facilitator to investment on the part of private firms.
The next meeting of the Euro-Mediterranean Conference of Industry Ministers will be held in Cyprus. The Conference will be convened according to the follow-up procedures agreed within the framework of the Barcelona process.