Answers Mr Patrick B. Renauld

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Patrick B. Renauld

Head of the European Regional Delegation in Jordan,

Biography of Mr Patrick B. Renauld

    ● Born in 1948, Patrick B. Renauld is married with 4 girls.
    ● He has a degree in Public International Law and Economics from Paris-Nanterre University.
    ● After the Ministry of Finance in Paris, he joins the European Commission in Brussels, where he participates in the negotiations for the new accords concluded with Mediterranean countries, in addition to the Uruguay Round.
    ● From 1988 to 1994, he was the Economic Counselor of the Commission’s delegation in Rabat, then Political and Economic Counselor in Algiers.
    ● At the end of the war in 1996, he was appointed Deputy Special Envoy in Sarajevo.
    ● From 1998 to 2001, he was in charge of the reconstruction of the Balkans in Brussels.
    ● Ambassador and Chief of the European delegation in Beirut in 2001, he becomes in November 2006 head of the Regional Delegation in Jordan.

     

Answers of Mr Patrick B. Renauld


1. Beside the money they get for project financing, why do southern Arab countries need to have privileged relations with the European Union?

We are neighbors and it is in our common interest to have good relations with our closest neighbors; this principle is part of both the Arab-Muslim and the European cultures. We share a common history, this is why we can better understand each other and cooperate to build a better future. Building projects between partners is a way of communicating, exchanging and transferring our know-how and enhancing our savoir-faire. Money used for these projects is only a mean of cooperation.

Among our projects, a good number foster good relations among southern Arab countries. Agadir process is one example, which will constitute a potential market of 120 million people. Having privileged relations with the EU also means extending the space of free movements: movement of goods and gradually movement of people.



2. Did the EU change its attitude or its programs towards its Mediterranean partners in the aftermath of the recent world economic crisis?

The European Neighborhood Policy is built on the principle of permanent dialogue and adaptation. The programmes are established with our partners according to their national plans. This means that, when their needs change due to a crisis for example, the EU accommodates its programmes in conformity with these needs. The latest crisis pushed us to give priority to budget support, in order to help our partners face their deficit. It is worth noting that the EU budget itself is not indefinitely extendible, and we have suffered from the crisis as well. This is why we were not able to increase the total volume of our financial support as much as we wanted to.

3. 
What is the purpose of implementing development and construction projects in Gaza, when the blockade and Israeli shelling persist?

Should we abandon our economic support to Palestinians because we did succeed yet to find a political solution to the political problem? In fact, we insist on providing the necessary support to the long-suffering population, even if we see our efforts thwarted most of the time. Would these efforts be useless? I do not think so. If some people consider that our actions are useless, we are open to constructive exchange in order to achieve a better management of the Palestinian support.

4. 
On which basis does the choice of programs to be executed (in terms of quality and quantity) in each partner country occur?

The programmes executed with our partners are shaped in the framework of a regional strategy. Concerning Mediterranean countries, the European Neighborhood Policy defines the programmes to be implemented and the European parliament votes for a 5-year budget. This budget is determined according to the country’s population and its needs. Then, a support programme is concluded with the national authorities on the basis of their national plans. The support then comes in the form of budgetary support, or project funding or technical assistance.

In case of budgetary support, the disbursement is carried out in line with targets established in common accord with each partner country. The funding sum is fixed with the partner.

Moreover, the administration of the partner country manages and executes projects when it has the capacity to do so. The EU delegation in the country does in this case the monitoring part of the job.

Most of the time, we also opt for a twinning plan between the administration of a European country and that of the partner. This method has proven to be more efficient than employing a consultant in this matter, since there is a common language among administrations of one sector (water, justice, public works) that facilitates any exchange.

5. I think that supporting SMEs should be a priority in any country due to the positive impact that this support has on the country’s development, employment opportunities and poverty reduction; what do you think?


You are right; SMEs are very important in the economy of any country due to their remarkable adaptation and innovation capacities and their ability to generate employment opportunities. With the help of the European Investment Bank, we favor the establishment of business incubators as much as possible. In the framework of local development, we have launched in the municipalities many programs of technical support to promote the creation of SMEs. Yet, to establish SMEs, we also need entrepreneurs. An entrepreneur is a person who accepts to take risks, not only for a few weeks or months, but for 5 or 10 years. And this risk should not be a speculative one, but a productive one. Hence, we should endeavor to develop the culture of sustainable work rather than that of immediate profit, which was one of the reasons that drove us to the current crisis.

6. We still do not know how can Europe help in finding a solution to the Western Sahara problem; do you have any idea?


Europe lived 100 wars in 1000 years. It was only when we started to count on our common interests, 65 years ago, that we refrained from fighting with each other on the issues of territories, provinces and borders. Algerians and Moroccans should in their turn find the basic elements for cooperation and understanding. In other words, the European Union is not proficient to resolve conflicts that exist among partners; this would be considered as interference in internal affairs. The EU’s ambition and personal interest is to share its values and experience with its neighbors. I believe that imitating outside positive experiences is a rewarding attitude. I also believe that concerned countries can become real partners with the EU only when -together- we succeed in implementing the principles of the Association Agreement previously signed. It is indeed a long and demanding route.

7. Do you consider that the important factor in the Arab economic situation in general is national wealth or good governance? Are Arab Mediterranean countries are on the right track on the first level or the second?

According to economists, good governance is the best way to create national wealth. Judicial security is an essential element for attracting productive investment. If rules of competition, management, funding and markets… are not clearly specified or applied, businessmen do not risk their capital, unless we are talking about speculative investment or money laundering.

This is why the notion of national wealth seems to me too global to be useful. I prefer the Human Development Index (HDI) commonly used by the United Nations, which reflects better the degree of development of a country and the distribution of its national wealth. Moreover, there is a real interaction and correlation between the HDI and good governance.

The principle of good governance is acquired by the majority of Arab countries; yet, its level of application differs from one country to the other. Some countries known for their national wealth did not acquire yet another principle related to good governance, namely the principle of durability. The principle of durability is founded on the respect of the land we live in and the respect of human beings who occupy this land. In fact, crises and revolutions are sometimes what make our governors understand the meaning of durability; it is a shame, but this is reality.

 



8. How does the “advanced status” granted to Morocco, which has been recently translated into a Euro-Moroccan summit, benefit this country? What should this country do to preserve this status, precisely on the level of human rights? Finally, what other country is currently a candidate to acquire this status?

I think that Enneko Landaburu, chief of the EU delegation in Morocco, can answer better this question. Yet, having served, 20 years ago, for 4 years as an economic counselor in this country, I allow myself to applaud this privileged status. It proves that Morocco is aware that no country can grow and develop alone and isolated from its neighbors. It also proves its commitment in building a better future and its will to engage in the EU “acquis”. This term in fact refers to the total body of EU legislation accumulated thus far and that serve to regulate all issues related to the 27 members of the Union. These laws are related to economic, judicial and political development, and notably to the principles of human rights, respect and dignity. It also proves that our Mediterranean neighbors interact well with the partnership that we offer them. It is in fact a success not only for Morocco but for Europe as well.

Eventually, I can outline two main benefits for Morocco: a greater freedom of movement for workers and a greater freedom of movement for capital. In reality, when Morocco follows the same principles and actions practiced by the EU, this opens the gate of opportunities wide and in both ways.

Currently, Israel, Jordan and Egypt are negotiating for an advanced status. Lebanon seems to be interested as well.

9. I recently noticed that acquiring a student visa to Europe depends on the quality of relations between the EU and the concerned country. I am a Syrian student and I suffer from this situation; how can you explain this? Is this situation normal?

I have suffered from the same problem in the past. I think that when we reach a point in which communication transgresses all frontiers, the movement of persons should follow the same path. It took us a lot of time to establish this freedom among the EU member States despite the close political relations that tie them.

Today, it seems very normal for a European student to begin his studies in one country and to continue them in another.

The ongoing negotiation for the Association Accord between Syria and the EU should give you some time soon the opportunity to travel to Europe.



10. Could you tell us which country you previously worked in is the closest to your heart, and to Europe?

Which Europe? The Baltic Europe? The Atlantic Europe? Or the Mediterranean Europe? In fact, Europe is a melting pot generated by a continuous intermingling of people, cultures and religions. European countries have with the countries of the south Mediterranean a long history of love interrupted by crisis and peace, by troubles and reconciliations. This history among the people created a chance for rapprochement, whereas the history among States generated distance and clashes.

I do not think that I can fulfill my job properly if I do not establish close ties with the country hosting me. I think that I have succeeded in this regard in all the countries I worked in.

11. You worked in several Arab and Islamic countries; in your position as economic advisor, do you consider that Islamic financial rules can be applied in European countries and bring them any benefit (as some have suggested at the aftermath of the world financial crisis)?

Some of the financial rules applied by Islamic banks, namely their prudence in conducting business affairs in an effort to reduce speculative games, should serve as a model to European countries. In fact, a large part of the current financial crisis could have been avoided had we opted long time ago for these prudent steps.

On the other hand, banks are not the only players who make the economy of a country or destroy it. Governments with their rules and good governance can have a great impact on this. The business spirit and the quality of training of the working force constitute major elements in the development of a sustainable economy. We can also add to this the key factors of flexibility, adaptation capacity and innovation in a world of continuous economic changes. It is indeed a huge cultural challenge.

12. What is the purpose of a programme like Europa Jaratouna? In general, what is the best way for the European Union to communicate with its Mediterranean partners?

For a long time, the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, has neglected the issue of communication. Maybe in order not to offend sovereign States by communicating on subjects that they prefer to keep for themselves, or because it was outside its area of competence. As a result, the Commission limited its communication to selected informed people.

However, European members of Parliament and economic actors bound the Commission to gradually open to the world. Our delegations also started to play a communication role when they discovered that the European Union had a political presence that must be explained. It is also a matter of respect to our citizens and partners to acknowledge their right to access information. When we talk about dialogue with our partners, we certainly mean the political dialogue that we are engaged in, but also the dialogue that we conduct with different cultures.

According to me, Europa Jaratouna is an area of exchange between countries of the region and Europe. Thanks to the modern tools of communication and professional journalism, this programme informs about the Euromed partnership. It is also giving me the opportunity to answer your questions. This programme will one day come to an end, but the important thing is to keep the exchange alive. Go on with questioning and provoking Europe!

I do not know what the best ways of communicating are, but I think that some basic rules should be respected if we seek to be understood by others: first, listen to others; second, use the language of the person you are addressing (though, sorry, I do not master the Arabic language) and finally respect his convictions and culture.