AMMAN -- Jordan and the EU on Sunday signed a 40 million euro (around JD37 million) grant agreement to support the budget and the Kingdom's political and economic reform efforts.
Meanwhile, His Majesty King Abdullah met with European Commission President José Manuel Barroso and said Jordan seeks to strengthen its strategic partnership with the European Union, which was organised through an agreement 10 years ago, according to a Royal Court statement.
During the meeting with Barroso, the King outlined the comprehensive reform process being carried out by Jordan.
He highlighted key opportunities to strengthen ties between Jordan and the EU, such as the 10th EU-Jordan Association Council meeting in Luxembourg slated for this month, citing Jordan's co-presidency of the Union for the Mediterranean along with the EU as another sign of a strong partnership.
He referred to the appointment of members of the Constitutional Court as an important historical event on the road to achieve comprehensive reform, voicing appreciation for the EU's support to Jordan in various fields.
The Monarch noted that Jordan seeks to develop partisan life in the country in order to have parties with "clear" programmes that deal with various issues including education, health, poverty and unemployment.
His Majesty outlined the efforts exerted by the Kingdom to provide humanitarian services to Syrian refugees, whose number has exceeded 200,000, despite the country's limited resources.
The King called on the international community, including the EU, to increase their support to Jordan to enable it to carry out its duties towards Syrian refugees.
King Abdullah and Barroso also discussed developments related to the peace process.
In press statements after the meeting, Barroso said the EU decided to allocate 16 million euros to support Syrian refugees in Jordan, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
Barroso also visited the Zaatari Refugee Camp on Sunday and was acquainted with the level of services provided to Syrian refugees, Petra said.
Also Sunday, the EU extended a 4.6 million euro donation to support UNICEF's emergency education services in the Kingdom, bringing the total EU contribution for education to 10 million euros.
"We have to ensure that families who have had to flee their country can live in decent conditions and that their children do not lose their right to education and to a brighter future," Barroso said during a visit to the Zaatari camp.
"Investing in education is investing in the future. I am therefore glad that the EU can support schooling of Syrian refugee children in Zaatari."
As to the 40 million euro grant agreement signed Sunday, it is the second part of an additional assistance allocation to support the Kingdom that was announced in February of this year, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation.
The first tranche of the assistance, worth 20 million euros, will be transferred to the Treasury before the end of the year, the ministry's statement said, adding that the remaining amount will be received next year.
The grant agreement was signed in Amman by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Jafar Hassan and EU Delegation Ambassador to Jordan Joanna Wronecka.
According to the ministry, Jordan and the EU are scheduled to sign other grant agreements before the end of 2012 that are worth 28 million euros, which the statement said is part of the regular aid programme for this year.
Out of the funds, a total of 13 million euros will be allocated to support institutional capacities to implement the joint Jordanian-European action plan, while 10 million euros will go to support democracy and media and 5 million euros for the security field, the statement said.
On September 27, the government and the EU signed three grant agreements worth 20 million euros to support the country's reform efforts. The grants are part of the SPRING Programme for 2012.
The EU will continue its aid to the government to consolidate its reform efforts in the political, economic and social areas, with particular attention to electoral processes, human rights, economic development and social protection, the EU said in a statement e-mailed to The Jordan Times.
The SPRING initiative seeks to help countries in the region engaged in far-reaching reform.
© Jordan Times 2012
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