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The EU and Jordan: An enduring partnership

May 08,2018 - Last updated at May 08,2018

On Europe Day, we reflect on our achievements as European Union as well as on the partnership we have developed with our neighbours. In fact, this is the third Europe Day celebration for me in Jordan, and as EU ambassador to the Kingdom, I have been privileged to meet so many inspiring Jordanians who make our partnership so special and enduring.

Over the past years, I have realised that there is much more that unites the EU and Jordan than divides them. We, Europeans and Jordanians, are not only bound by a common history, but we also aspire to work together to protect the interests and welfare of our peoples, to contribute to global order and to protect the multilateral system that fosters international cooperation and strengthens regional stability.

Jordan, in fact, is not only a neighbour; it is a pivotal player in the region. Hence, the Kingdom remains at the heart of the European Union’s foreign policy. The EU will continue to stand by Jordan in implementing its ambitious political and economic reform agenda because the stability and prosperity of Jordan are of paramount importance to us. The country has been described by our High Representative Federica Mogherini as “like-minded” and has become our established partner in fighting terrorism, engaging in conflict resolution and promoting regional stability. Our political relations are as strong as ever, as illustrated by the regular meetings between His Majesty King Abdullah and the high representatives of the European institutions, including European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker.

Today, the Kingdom faces important economic challenges, but despite these obstacles, or perhaps because of them, the economic partnership between the EU and Jordan is steadily developing in new areas. Last year, the EU strengthened its trade relations with Jordan, including through a new scheme relaxing the rules of origin, thereby expanding the opportunities for Jordanian products to enter the European single market. Moreover, we have worked at various levels to create new job opportunities, including the provision of more than 2,000 sustainable jobs for young job seekers. We have also worked closely with the private sector and small and medium enterprises. As a result, there were more than 1,000 companies benefiting from our support in various sectors in the past 10 years, more than 75 projects incubated at our EU funded start-up accelerator “ShamalStart” that invests in passionate entrepreneurs with innovative ideas, and more than 62 innovative research ideas supported in sectors such as water, food, health and energy.

The EU also stepped beyond our bilateral cooperation, extending support to the Kingdom to respond to the Syria crisis. Since 2011, we have made available 1.2 billion euros to help the Kingdom to respond to the Syrian refugee influx, in addition to our regular bilateral cooperation. In April, the EU hosted the second Brussels conference on the “Future of Syria and the region” which gathered 3.5 billion euros in additional pledges for projects supporting refugees and helping host communities, including Jordanians, which have been showing outstanding hospitality.

However, our partnership is not just about money, nor is it measured only by financial assistance. Our partnership is rooted in our longstanding collective work in Jordan, in the region and around the world. And this work makes a difference to the lives of many Jordanians, whether from the private or public sector, young or old, in Amman or in the governorates. We empower the youth, with their talents and their creativity, through education, vocational training and cultural programmes. We also support women, who are role models for leadership and courage, through projects promoting economic, social and political empowerment.

We take pride in this partnership, solid and long-lasting as it is, we take pride in this enduring partnership! 

 

The writer is EU ambassador in Amman. He contributed the article to The Jordan Times

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