The Role of the Office of the European Union Representative
The European Union has over one hundred delegations all over the world. The European Union Technical Assistance Office was officially opened 1994.
As an integral part of the European Union, the European Union Technical Assistance (or Representative Office) Office for the West Bank and Gaza Strip plays its role in the diplomatic community along with Member States represented locally.
The Palestinian Authority is a full and equal partner in the Barcelona Process designed to build a Euro-Mediterranean space; the Representative Office helps to keep the PA abreast of the latest developments in the Barcelona Process so that its voice is heard in the evolution of Euro-Mediterranean affairs. The Representative Office is equally responsible for following up with the Palestinian Authority on the implementation of the EC-PLO Association Agreement on trade and cooperation which is a key element in relations between the EU and the Palestinians in the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership.
However the bulk of our work centers on co-coordinating, managing and monitoring the large EU assistance programme to the Palestinians. Not counting the substantial bilateral contributions of the EU Member States, the EU programme managed by the European Union accounts for about one quarter of total international donor assistance to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The staff of the European Commission offices located in Gaza and East Jerusalem includes European Commission officials of various European nationalities posted from Brussels, local Palestinian staff, as well as a team of technical experts, who advise the Commission on project identification, formulation and implementation.
The work of project programming, implementation and monitoring requires close coordination with EU member States and other donors, but more importantly, with the Palestinian Authority itself.
The Commission's key partner in this respect is the Ministry of Planning. Frequent meetings are held between the European Union and Ministry staff on issues of project identification and implementation. This regular process of coordination makes possible the signature each year of a memorandum with the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, describing the projects that the European Union proposes to fund through the various ministries and agencies of the PA in the following year. The idea is that the projects to be funded respond to PA priorities as expressed in the continuously updated Palestinian Development Plan.
At the same time, the Commission plays its part in the donor aid coordination mechanisms (the international meetings of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee, and of the World Bank Consultative Group, and the corresponding local meetings of the joint Liaison Committee, the Local Aid Coordination Committee, and the various Sector Working Groups) all of which aim to ensure that donor assistance is programmed according to the expressed priorities of the PA, and that policy decisions made by the Government of Israel and by the PA are conducive to the implementation of projects and to Palestinian development more widely.
In its day-to-day work, the European Union works according to the principles of Project Cycle Management, all the way from project-identification and formulation, through implementation and all the way to the evaluation stage of a project. This system aims to ensure that projects funded are relevant to the development needs of the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, are feasible (ie. it is realistic that they meet their objectives), and sustainable in all senses of the word (financially, economically, environmentally and in that they respond properly to the needs and priorities as expressed by women as well as men).
Not all EU projects are channeled through the Palestinian Authority. More than a quarter of our assistance is implemented by international agencies, mainly UNRWA, but also in partnership with the World Bank, the Red Cross or the World Food Programme. In addition, more than 20% of project funding is channeled through international and Palestinian NGOs.
The European Union places great emphasis on peace building, democracy and human rights, and funds a variety of projects in different cooperation sectors.