[Check Against Delivery]
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy
Signing Memorandum of Understanding - Single Support Framework
Beirut, 14 October 2014
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me start by thanking PM Tammam Salam for hosting us in such a wonderful location. I am honoured to represent the European Union on this occasion. The signing ceremony of the "Memorandum of Understanding regarding the European Union Single Support Framework 2014-16 for Lebanon" comes at a moment when it is essential for the international community to emphasize and reaffirm its continued engagement with your country.
The EU is deeply concerned by the recent violence and security incidents. We strongly condemn the attacks by violent extremist groups on the Lebanese security forces, we extend our sincere condolences to the families of all victims and express our sympathy to the people of Lebanon.
We commend the Lebanese security agencies for their joint efforts in responding, being on the front line, to the numerous security threats. We will continue to stand by Lebanon and the institutions to address these extraordinary challenges.
The EU is well aware that Lebanon is facing extraordinary security, political, humanitarian, social, and economic challenges. I wish to reiterate our appreciation for the immense effort the Lebanese authorities and people have made so far, offering support and hospitality to an unprecedented number of refugees coming from Syria. The EU fully understands the delicate situation in Lebanon, and will continue - as the major provider of humanitarian and development assistance to your country -its engagement, both in the framework of our bilateral relation and in response to the Syrian crisis.
Since 2012, the EU overall funding is more than half a billion EUR in grants. I confirm that also this year additional assistance has been made available to alleviate the pressure from the presence of more than 1.1 million refugees. Last month, during the United Nations General Assembly, the EU made an additional pledge of EUR 215 million to address the consequences of the Syrian war. A large part of this envelope will be implemented for programmes in Lebanon.
More broadly, the EU intends to continue and strengthen its engagement with Lebanon and the partnership under the European Neighbourhood Policy. During today's ceremony, we also mark the recent adoption of the new joint European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan and the adoption of the EU-Lebanon Annual Action Programme 2014.
In closing, let me underline that the deep cooperation between the EU and Lebanon is here to stay.