EU pounds 3.8bn aid for Mediterranean

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(First Edition) BRUSSELS - The European Commission yesterday proposed a pounds 3.8bn aid programme for non-EU Mediterranean non-EU countries nations of pounds 3.8bn until the end of the century, writes Sarah Lambert. Brussels It warned that southern member states could block enlargement to the east unless there was an improvement in relations with, and spending on, the Mediterranean.

Manuel Marin, commissioner responsible for the region, said: 'We must send a political message. The EU has strengthened its relations with the countries to the east, creating an imbalance that must be corrected.'

He noted that EU spending in the east was, per capita, five times that devoted to Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Israel, Turkey, Cyprus and Malta. Instability in Algeria has increased concerns about EU relations with the region. In practice, the extra cash is likely to come from funds already earmarked for food aid, Asia, or Latin America. Mr Marin said ministers must decide on spending priorities.