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MEDA programme

To implement the cooperation measures designed to help Mediterranean non-member countries reform their economic and social structures and mitigate the social and environmental consequences of economic development.


Council Regulation (EC) No 1488/96 of 23 July 1996 on financial and technical measures to accompany (MEDA) the reform of economic and social structures in the framework of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership [Official Journal L 189 of 30.07.1996].


1. The MEDA Regulation is the principal instrument of economic and financial cooperation under the Euro-Mediterranean partnership. It was launched in 1996 (MEDA I) and amended in 2000 (MEDA II). It enables the European Union (EU) to provide financial and technical assistance to the countries in the southern Mediterranean: Algeria, Cyprus, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, the Palestinian Territory, Syria, Tunisia and Turkey. The MEDA programme takes the place of the various bilateral financial protocols that exist with the countries in the Mediterranean basin. It is inspired by the Phare and TACIS programmes, especially as regards transparency and information. A budget heading is established for financing the programme.

2. Actions under the MEDA programme aim to fulfil the objectives of the three sectors of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership:

  • reinforcing political stability and democracy;
  • creating a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area and the development of economic and social cooperation;
  • taking due account of the human and cultural dimension.

Measures supported

3. The MEDA programme supports the economic transition of Mediterranean non-member countries (MNCs) and the establishment of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade area by promoting economic and social reforms for the modernisation of enterprises and the development of the private sector, paying particular attention to:

  • support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and job creation;
  • the opening-up of markets;
  • promotion of private investment, industrial cooperation and trade between the various partners;
  • upgrading of economic infrastructure, including the financial and taxation systems;
  • consolidation of the major financial balances and creation of an economic environment favourable to accelerated growth (support for structural adjustment).

4. The MEDA programme also supports sustainable socio-economic development, in particular through:

  • the participation of civil society and populations in the planning and implementation of development measures;
  • the improvement of social services (education, health, housing, water, etc.);
  • harmonious and integrated rural development, including agricultural development;
  • the strengthening of democracy, human rights and the rule of law;
  • the protection and improvement of the environment;
  • the upgrading of economic infrastructure, especially in the sectors of transport, energy and the information society;
  • the promotion of youth exchanges and cultural cooperation;
  • the development of human resources (vocational training, improvement of scientific and technological research).

5. In addition, MEDA supports regional, sub-regional and cross-border cooperation, in particular through:

  • the establishment and development of structures for regional cooperation between Mediterranean partners and between them and the EU and its Member States;
  • the establishment of the infrastructure necessary for regional trade in the areas of transport, communications and energy;
  • exchanges between civil society in the Community and the Mediterranean partners within the framework of decentralised cooperation through the networking of civil society actors (universities, local communities, associations, trade unions, the media, private business, non-governmental organisations, etc.).

6. The Regulation stresses that the programming and implementation of cooperation must take account of gender equality and the promotion of the role of women in economic and social life. The measures financed under the Regulation must also give due regard to environmental considerations.

7. According to the MEDA Regulation, respect for democracy, the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms is an essential element of the partnership, the violation of which justifies the adoption of appropriate measures. These measures can be adopted by the Council acting by a qualified majority on a Commission proposal.


8. In order to achieve its objectives, the MEDA II programme was allocated EUR 5 350 million for the 2000-2006 period.

9. The activities financed under MEDA may take the form of technical assistance, training, institution-building, information, seminars, studies, projects for investment and action designed to highlight the Community nature of the assistance.

10. In particular, MEDA financing takes the form of:

  • grants managed by the European Commission and used to finance or cofinance activities, projects or programmes that contribute to the realisation of the MEDA programme's objectives;
  • risk capital provided and managed by the European Investment Bank (EIB) to strengthen the private sector, especially the financial sector;
  • interest rate subsidies for EIB loans within the framework of environmental cooperation, not exceeding a subsidy rate of 3%.

11. Community financing may cover expenditure on import of goods and services and local expenditure needed to carry out the projects and programmes envisaged. Taxes, duties and charges are excluded from Community financing. Direct financial assistance for the partner country may also be granted to support economic reform programmes within the framework of structural adjustment programmes.

12. Community financing in the production sector is combined with the beneficiary's own resources. The amount provided by the EU should not exceed 80% of the total investment costs. Community financing may also take the form of cofinancing with other bodies.

13. The beneficiaries of MEDA financing may include not only states and regions but also local authorities, regional organisations, public agencies, local communities, organisations supporting business, private operators, cooperatives, mutual societies, associations, foundations and non-governmental organisations in the EU and the Mediterranean partners.


14. The Commission plays an important role in ensuring the effective coordination of the assistance efforts undertaken by the Community, including the EIB, and individual Member States, in order to increase the coherence and complementarity of their cooperation programmes. In addition, the Commission promotes coordination and cooperation with international financial institutions and other donors.

15. Measures financed under the MEDA programme are selected taking account of the beneficiaries' priorities, evolving needs, absorption capacity and progress towards structural reform. The provisions of association or cooperation agreements are also taken into consideration.

16. Strategy papers covering the 2000-2006 period are drawn up at national and regional level in liaison with the EIB. These strategy papers aim to define the objectives of cooperation in the long term and determine the priority areas of action.

17. National Indicative Programmes (NIPs) and Regional Indicative Programmes (RIPs) covering a three-year period are then drawn up on the basis of the strategy papers and agreed by the EU and each Mediterranean partner. These programmes define the main objectives of, the guidelines for, and the priority sectors of Community support together with factors for the evaluation of the programmes. The programmes include indicative amounts and list the criteria for funding the programme concerned. They may be updated annually and adapted to changes in each partner country.

18. Finally, financing decisions are drawn up annually on the basis of the national and regional indicative programmes in liaison with the EIB. They contain a list of the projects to be financed.


19. The strategy papers, indicative programmes and financing decisions are adopted by the Commission, according to the management procedure, following consultation of the MED Committee, composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by the Commission representative. For greater efficiency, financing decisions totalling less than EUR 2 million are taken by the Commission, which then informs the MED Committee immediately.

20. Decisions on interest rate subsidies are taken by the Commission, which informs the EIB of any such decisions. The EIB decides on the allocation of risk capital following approval by a committee composed of representatives of the Member States and informs the Commission accordingly.

21. The actions and programmes financed under MEDA are subject to the award of contracts through tendering procedures which are open on equal terms to all natural and legal persons in the EU Member States and the Mediterranean partners. The Commission ensures the necessary transparency and effective competition in the award of these contracts and maximum dissemination of the relevant information through the Official Journal of the European Communities and the Internet.

22. Contracts are awarded in accordance with the relevant provisions of the EC Financial Regulation, taking into account the principles of sound financial management, economy and cost-effectiveness.

Monitoring and evaluation

23. In addition to an overall assessment report and a mid-term evaluation, the Commission, in collaboration with the EIB, submits an annual report to the European Parliament and the Council summarising the actions financed during the year and assessing the results obtained in relation to the strategy papers. This assessment is now included in the Commission's annual report on EC development policy and the implementation of external aid (2001 report) [PDF].

24. No later than 31 December 2005, the Commission must submit to the Council an evaluation report accompanied by proposals regarding the future of the MEDA programme with a view to its review by the Council.



Entry into force - Date of expiry

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 1488/96



OJ L 189 of 30.7.1996

Amending act(s)

Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No 780/98



OJ L 113 of 15.4.1998

Regulation (EC) No 2698/2000



OJ L 311 of 12.12.2000

Regulation (EC) No 2112/2005



OJ L 344 of 27.12.2005


Regulation (EC) No 1638/2006 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 2006 laying down general provisions establishing a European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument [Official Journal L 310 of 9.11.2006].

This Regulation repeals the MEDA programme.

Council Decision of 23 January 2006 enabling countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy, as well as Russia, to benefit from the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) Programme [Official Journal L 32 of 4.2.2006].

Last updated: 12.04.2007