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European Commission announces $66 million grant to North Lebanon

The European Commission will continue to provide financial aid to Lebanon under the European Neighborhood Policy with a grant of 42 million euros ($66.6 million) during the upcoming year, a statement issued by the commission said on Thursday. As part of the 2008 Action Program, the European Commission is allocating money among the private sector, local development in North Lebanon and the Lebanese justice system.

The 2008 Action Program aims to target the money at specific priorities in the three sectors in hopes of providing sustainable development. A grant of 14 million euros will aim to strengthen the competitiveness of the private sector through improved financial instruments in order to encourage innovation and strengthen the national quality management system.

The Commission is allocating 18 million euros for sustainable development in northern Lebanon. This will include developing agriculture and environment sectors and the infrastructure, as well as improving the economic situation of Palestinian refugees. Finally, 10 million euros will be directed toward improving the Lebanese justice system through information technology and training from the Judiciary Studies Institute.

Benita Ferrero-Waldner, commissioner for External Relations and European Neighborhood Policy, underscored the European Commission\'s commitment toward helping Lebanon rise above its numerous challenges.

\"After the Doha agreement and the forming of a government, Lebanon is facing a wide variety of challenges ranging from political reforms in the run-up to next year\'s elections, restoring the trust of the Lebanese people in its government and administration to reviving the economy. I have always underlined that we will continue to accompany the Lebanese government on this difficult path. Improvement of rule of law, a stronger private sector and reconstruction in the area of Nahr al-Bared in northern Lebanon will all contribute to stabilizing Lebanon both politically and economically,\" she said.

Lebanon will receive 187 million euros in financial assistance between 2007-2010 under the European Neighborhood Policy. The country has already received a previous grant of 50 euros million under the 2007 Annual Action Program that was directed toward economic and political reforms, de-mining and improved education for Palestinian refugees.

Marseille,07 22 2008
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