MEDA programme

The MEDA programme is the main financial instrument for the implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership which was established at the Barcelona Conference in November 1995. MEDA was initially introduced in 1996, modified and renamed MEDA II in 2000, before being finally abandoned in 2006 following a set of community aid reforms of and the creation of the European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) put into place on January 1st 2007.

This programme, which is a counterpart of the PHARE programme established with the countries of central and eastern Europe, was provided with a financial package of €4,685 million for the period 1995-1999, from which €3.4 million were effectively committed. For the period 2000-2006, €5.3 million have been earmarked under the framework of MEDA II. Besides so, the European Investment Bank will lend some €6.400 million for the period 2000-2007 (€4.800 million were lend during the period1995-1999).

MEDA progressively replaced the system of financial protocols which for twenty years regulated the cooperation with third Mediterranean countries. Likewise PHARE and TACIS programmes (1), MEDA focuses on economic transition and socio-economic accompanying measures for the gradual establishment of a free trade area with EU partners.

1. Organisation and implementation

There was need for a new administrative structure to implement the MEDA programme. Extensive talks were held in 1997 between the European Union and each Mediterranean partner which benefits from the programme in order to conclude frameworks conventions of financing.

The main characteristics of these framework conventions are:

  • the appointment of a national coordinator of the receiving country who will supervise the overall programming and implementation;
  • a wide scope of potential beneficiaries, i.a. the private sector and members of the civil society;

Framework conventions of financing have been concluded with Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and the Palestinian Authority. They do not apply to Cyprus, Israel and Malta.

2. Programming

The National Indicative Programmes (NIP) – for bilateral cooperation – were first adopted by the European Commission in 1996 for the period 1996-98, and have been periodically updated. A Regional Indicative Programme (RIP) – for regional cooperation – was first adopted by the Commission in March 1998. They are drawn up for three years.

The NIPs and the RIPs, are aimed to create synergy between bilateral and regional cooperation. They are based on the Strategy Papers, established at national and regional level, for long term programming (2000-2006), and define the priority sectors for application of the MEDA programme. The financing plans, adopted on a yearly basis derive both from the Indicative Programmes and the Strategy Papers. While the External relations DG manages the programming aspect, EuropAid office assumes its implementation and evaluation. The final evaluation of the aid is monitored by the External Relations DG as feedback.

Criteria for fixing the initial allocations per country are the following:

  • traditional criteria (size of population, GNP/capita);
  • the efficiency of the implementation and the progress in structural reforms envisaged by the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership;
  • progress made in the process of conclusion of Euro-Mediterranean Association Agreements.

Hence, there is no fix amount allocated to a country. On the contrary, the underlying principle of these allocations is the promotion of best executing performance by stimulating competition between countries and between projects.

The MEDA resources which are allocated bilaterally target especially the following issues:

  • To support to economic transition, by increasing the competitiveness (particularly the development of the private sector) with the aim to prepare TMP for the free trade area.
  • To alleviate the short-term costs of economic transition by strengthening the socio-economic balance.

For the period 1995-1999 bilateral allocations were mainly targeting the following actions: 41% for education, health, environment, rural development projects, 30% for support to economic transition and private sector development, 15% for support to structural adjustment.

In April 1998 the Council of Ministers approved a ruling which lays down the reasons for suspension from the MEDA aid programme; they focus on violation of democratic principles, the rule of law, human rights and basic freedoms. The Council can decide to suspend a partner by a qualified majority following a proposal by the Commission.

The establishment of the TASP (Technical and Administrative Support of the Programme) was almost completely realised by January 1998. The Brussels based TASP, consists of 10 groups – or MEDA Teams -, two or three experts and a Technical Support Company of about fifty people. Other « MEDA Teams » have also been set up within the delegations of the Commission in the third Mediterranean countries. The Technical Support Company and the group of experts have all been selected after calls of tender.

The bilateral actions receive about 86% of the funds, around 12% goes to regional projects, and the remaining part is allocated to technical assistance offices. They consist mainly of non-refundable aid, risk capital and interest bonifications.

Actions undertaken under the tutelage of the MEDA II Programme are accompanied by an annual report on development policy and external aid of the EC, presented to the European Parliament and Council by the European Commission and the EIB.

3. Field of Action

Support offered through the MEDA Programme applies to three forms of action:

  • The creation of a Euro-Mediterranean free trade zone as well as the economic transition of non-member Mediterranean countries; the programme intends to promote the development of the private sector through the support of economic and social reforms. MEDA seeks, amongst other things to:

o Support local SME

o Improve market openness

o Increase FDI and domestic investment

o Support the consolidation of appropriate economic and social structures

  • In order to obtain long-term economic and social development, MEDA promotes:

o A more substantial role played by civil society and social services

o The strengthening of human rights, democracy and respect of the environment

o The development of transport and energy sectors, as well as cultural exchanges and human resources

  • The programme is also concerned with regional and intra-regional development, through:

o The support for the creation of structured aimed at augmenting economic and cultural regional cooperation between and amongst non-member Mediterranean countries and members of the EU.


(1) The PHARE programme covering central and oriental European countries, and the TACIS programme for Republics of the former Soviet Union (Russia and new independent states – NIS)

For more information:

(Council Regulation (EC) No 2698/2000 of 27 November 2000), published on 12 December 2000