Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Annex 3



  As a champion of enlargement the UK is strongly committed to supporting Slovakia's early accession to the European Union and to helping Slovakia in the associated process of reform. This Action Plan details UK initiatives to further these aims. The British Foreign Office has made available £100,000 of additional money to support new projects in the current financial year. This bilateral assistance complements the work already being funded through the EU and the broader support (£3 million) through the Department for International Development's (DfID) Know How Fund.


  Following the Lord Chancellor's visit in June, the highly successful "Twinning Programme" focusing on police training and DfID Know How fund's projects with the judiciary, the United Kingdom is keen to extend assistance in these areas. Planned projects include:

    —  a two-year English language training programme for police officers, judges, prosecutors and ministry officials;

    —  bilateral assistance to help prepare the Slovak Republic for handling information covered by Data Protection mandates;

    —  exchange of experts to establish co-operation in the field of Penal and Civil Law;

    —  provision of documents for the Ministry of Justice's Centre of Documentation on EU Law;

    —  training of Judges in the area of acquis communitaire;

    —  supporting an English/Slovak legal dictionary and updating an English/Slovak police dictionary.

  Following a successful seminar organised by DfID Know How Fund in 1999, we are now examining the option of organising a follow up seminar to assist the Slovak police in developing effective relations with the Roma community.


  As a member of OECD, Slovakia has adopted principles concerning the operation of publicly traded companies. A key element to improving economic efficiency is corporate governance as it involves a set of relationships between a company's management, its board, its shareholders and its stakeholders. A planned project includes:

    —  introduction of a Code of Best Practice similar to one already successfully introduced in the Czech Republic. British consultants working with Slovak counterparts will work closely with various institutional groups such as the Bankers Association and the Bratislava Stock Exchange along with auditing bodies, to help develop and implement this code.


  In order to complement the work already being carried out by the EU, other member states and the KHF, discussions with the Slovak Ministry of Environment have identified a number of areas for bilateral assistance. Projects currently under preparation include:

    —  short-term assistance focusing on international tendering to comply with the FIDIC Red Book on international engineering standards;

    —  short-term assistance in the area of cost benefit analysis;

    —  short-term assistance to assess the environmental impact of incinerators.

  Other assistance currently under discussion includes:

    —  aiding the Slovak Ministry of Environment in preparing for the implementation of the IPPC (Integrated Pollution Prevention Control) directive and supporting national and local Agenda 21 initiatives.

  The UK will seek to assist the relevant Slovak authorities to build up the capacity and expertise necessary to access EU environment related funds (ISPA). DfID have recently set up a new environmental capacity building project to aid this process. The UK will also seek to help the Slovak authorities implement EU pollution directives.


  Commercial relations between the two countries will be vigorously developed on the basis of the principles of transparency and an open market. Through co-operation between British Trade International and the two countries' Embassies, two-way trade and investment will be actively encouraged. Current projects include:

    —  a British adviser working with the Slovak Ministry of Finance through a EU funded scheme, advising on Bank Privatisation;

    —  a successful study visit to the UK for senior officials from the new Slovak State Aids Office. The UK hopes to continue to offer assistance in this area, possibly in conjunction with the Austrian led twinning project.

  The UK also hopes to offer assistance in the field of energy market regulation.


  The United Kingdom will explore the possibility of helping the Slovak Republic to address the problems of regulating the financial sector, through the provision of assistance to the Ministry of Finance and other financial institutions.


  The functioning of the internal market involves a process of undertakings, cross-border mergers, take-overs and joint ventures. To guarantee that employees are properly informed and consulted, it is necessary to set-up European Works Councils, or to create other suitable consultation procedures. Within the framework of the European Commission's "Twinning Programme", the United Kingdom (in co-operation with the Netherlands) will be working closely with Slovak officials on the development of Social Dialogue to perform this necessary function.


  DfID have been working with Slovakia to help achieve a successful transition to a pluralist democracy and well-regulated market economy. The Aid Framework allocation for financial year 2000-01 is £2.8 million. This will rise to £3 million in the next financial year. Key projects forming part of this bilateral programme are:

    —  providing technical advice on public administration, decentralisation and local government reform;

    —  developing a project to strengthen parliamentary processes with advice from a team from the House of Commons;

    —  developing projects to address social exclusion and improve access to justice;

    —  regional development project;

    —  providing assistance to the Anti-Monopoly Office;

    —  exploring potential assistance in the area of financial regulation in co-operation with EU and World Bank partners;

    —  co-operating with the World Bank on economic and financial restructuring, through support for a key adviser on the World Bank team.



  From 1999, the budget for the British Government's prestigious "Chevening Scholarships" programme in Slovakia has been increased. This programme includes the "Chevening European Fellowships" programme, under which selected Slovak government officials are trained in EU law and practice.

  The British Council will maintain its high profile in the Slovak Republic. Its main building in Bratislava and three resource centres enable it to promote best practice in English Language Training and assist the continuing improvement of English language in schools. The Council's long-term programme of cultural events and exchanges continues to expand.


  We are in close contact with the Slovak Government as a prospective member of NATO and the EU about the European Strategic Defence Initiative, recognising that Slovakia has an important role in the development of policy in this area.

  The United Kingdom will:

    —  intensify its dialogue with the Slovak Foreign Ministry and other appropriate governmental bodies on a wide range of foreign policy problems of common interest, in the spirit of EU Common Foreign and Security Policy:

    —  exchange experiences on the operation of CFSP through visits and the appointment of short-term secondees to each others' ministries;

    —  provide assistance and advice on accession related matters, including involvement in Wilton Park conferences;

    —  provide training on diplomacy and negotiating techniques, particularly for EU accession, through FCO training courses and Chevening Scholarships;

    —  work with Slovakia to develop and sustain support for enlargement in both countries. This includes a project to assist the Slovak Ministry of Foreign Affairs develop and implement a Public Diplomacy Strategy.


  Inter-Parliamentary relations continue to develop and will deepen over the next year. The EC Scrutiny Committee of the House of Commons visited Slovakia in July and the Intelligence and Security Committee of the House of Commons is due to visit at the end of November.

  Through the KHF we are supporting reforms to parliamentary procedures in order to increase the effectiveness of the legislation process.


  The UK is committed to stepping up Ministerial and other senior contact with Slovakia. So far this year, there have been visits from:

    —  The Foreign Secretary, Mr Robin Cook

    —  Minister for Sports, Ms Kate Hoey

    —  Minister of State for Armed Forces, Mr John Spellar

    —  The Lord Chancellor, Lord Irvine

    —  The Lord Mayor of London

    —  His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales

  We wish to maintain the momentum generated by these visits and the frequency of contact as Slovakia moves towards membership of the EU.


  The Action Plan provides a basis for ongoing co-operation between the United Kingdom and Slovak Republic for the years to come. It will be reviewed and updated regularly with that in mind.

theRepublic for the years to come. It will be reviewed and updated regularly with that in mind.

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