BEIRUT: The annual Progress Report of the European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) issued by European Commission in Beirut on Friday indicated that Lebanon has showed "very limited" progress during 2008. "This is a missed opportunity for Lebanon," said the head of the Politics Department at European Commission in Lebanon during a meeting with reporters.

Michael Miller explained that Lebanon was at the "bottom of the scale" in terms of asking for the help of the EU.

"It’s a pity that Lebanon is one of our worst partners," he said, adding that while Morocco filed 44 project proposals since the partnership with the EU was established in  2007, Lebanon has so far submitted four proposals only.   

The document, which covers the period between January and December 2008 shows that the slowdown in development was caused by the recent state of political turmoil that the country faced since the 2005 parliamentary elections. The report cites the summer 2006 war with Israel, the delay in electing a president, and the May 2008 street conflicts between opposition fighters and gunmen from the March 14 Forces. 



The EU-Lebanon ENP Action Plan was adopted in January 2007 and serves as a five year guide after Lebanon’s commitment to the Paris III international donor conference.

The report, however, indicated that some progress has been achieved with regard to electoral reform for the upcoming June 7 parliamentary elections. The progress report said that the new electoral law adopted in September 2008 which was based on the 1960 law "demonstrated significant improvements on several topics such as the creation of a quasi-independent body to supervise campaign financing, one day voting schedule, abolition of voter cards and the use of indelible ink to mark voters’ hand.


"However," the progress report said, "the new law remained weak on retaining other important proposals done by National Commission on electoral law headed by ex-Minister Fouad Boutros and recommended by the 2005 EU Election Observation Mission.

"The parliamentary elections in June are very important for the Lebanese democracy. This is why we are dedicating 4 million euros to implement the 2008 Lebanese electoral reform and to prepare these elections, and I have also decided to send and Election Observation Mission. I am confident that the elections will result in the formation of a stable government with whom we will continue to work together towards the modernization of the country" said Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy on the assessment progress report launched prior to the spring elections. – The Daily Star



The European Union is to send a 90-strong election observation team to Lebanon ahead of polls on June 7, the EU’s executive, the European Commission, announced Friday.


“I am confident that the forthcoming parliamentary elections will result in the formation of a stable government … I hope that the presence of European observers can contribute to ensuring that the elections will take place in a transparent and credible manner,” EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said.

The EU already has a team of 10 experts on the ground in Lebanon paving the way for the observation mission. Thirty more are set to join them in the coming weeks to monitor the pre-election process, while a final 50 are set to fly to Lebanon for the vote itself.

The EU has already donated 4 million euros (5.2 million dollars) to help Lebanon reform its electoral law. The bloc is set to spend a further 4.7 million euros on the election monitoring mission, the EU’s executive, the European Commission, said in a statement.