Select Committee on European Communities Thirty-Third Report


The Environment of Russia and the New Independent States



National Environmental Action Plans

  38.    Within the context of the Environment, an important further strand in the partnership between the EU and the NIS, complementing the PCAs (see paragraphs 27-29), are the National Environmental Action Plans (NEAPs) of the individual NIS countries. All Tacis forms of environmental technical assistance are in principle linked to these plans, which are drawn up by the national governments concerned taking account of their own priorities, but with the assistance of expertise from the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Co­operation and Development (OECD).

Environment as a priority

  39.    By including environment as one of the priority indicative areas (see paragraph 25 above), the November 1996 Regulation marked a raising of the profile of the environment in the Tacis range of programmes. The previous Regulations of 1991 and 1993 had not included such specific reference to the environment, although environmental matters were frequently subsumed under other indicative areas. It is therefore a measure of the growing importance which the European Union attaches to environmental factors in the NIS and Mongolia that it now appears specifically as one of the priorities for Tacis.

  40.    The 1996 Regulation can already be seen to have had a significant influence on activity related to the environment, in terms of identification and choice of projects and subsequent financial approval. It is estimated that environment projects now account for around 10 per cent of total Tacis spending in Russia and Ukraine (p 37). It is, however, not yet possible to quantify the tangible effects of the Regulation with any precision; and nuclear safety programmes, especially in relation to Chernobyl (Ukraine), continue to absorb an overwhelming proportion of the budget. Nevertheless, it seems probable that the environment will have a high priority in the new Tacis Regulation for the period 2000-2007, which at the time of reporting has yet to be given formal consideration by Member States.

  41.    Commission literature indicates that Tacis has two key environmental objectives in the NIS and Mongolia:

     to change attitudes so that environmental issues have a higher priority, through specific local projects that also demonstrate the clear benefits, merits and feasibility of environmental improvements across the region; and

     to act as a catalyst for investments by international financial institutions (IFIs), as well as local donors, by commissioning feasibility studies and/or environmental impact assessments.

A list of Tacis environmental projects is in Annex B of the DFID's written submission (p 42). Both Russia and the Ukraine have made the environment a priority sector for their Tacis programme assistance, and environmental projects account for around 10 per cent of the funding allocated to the two countries. This is reflected in their national action plans, and they are the only NIS countries to have free-standing environmental projects in addition to multi-country programmes (Q 82).

National environmental policies of the Russian Federation

  42.    In the Russian Federation, a Ministry of Natural Resources was established in 1996 with primary responsibility for the efficient use of land, forest and water resources; the environmental protection functions of the ministry were taken up by the State Committee for Environmental Protection, which does not have the full status of a ministry. While environmental protection is seen as a real issue in Russia, there is a lack of systematic action to overcome problems, for financial as well as organisational reasons.[24] Two areas have been identified which at present have serious human health effects, these being water pollution and waste disposal. Two 1996 programmes have been initiated in the waste sector:

     the mainstream Tacis support to the State Environmental Protection Committee

     St Petersburg Hazardous Waste Management Project (part of the Tacis Cross-Border programme).

  43.    In the Tacis programme as a whole in Russia, discrete and detectable outputs from environmental activity will be the exception rather than the rule, though additional benefits will stem from projects which incorporate an environmental dimension. The main current Tacis priorities for Russia were agreed during the visit of Prime Minister Chernomyrdin to President Santer during 1997, and these include enterprise support, human resources and the social sector, though agriculture, energy, transport, telecommunications and the environment also figure high in the list of Tacis activities.[25] The focus in the 1997 Action Programme in Russia is in resource management and institutional strengthening in fields with economic added value:

     environmental training, particularly in regard to water management in support of a broader Federal Volga River Revival Programme

     improving forestry management through action with the fire service aimed at reinforcing information systems and reducing incident response times (in line with the Biodiversity Convention[26] and Agenda 21).

  44.    The action which the Russian Government can take, under its emerging National Environmental Action Plan,[27] is severely limited by the constraints of the deteriorating economic situation. Whilst some notable programmes have been launched, others risk going by default through lack of appropriate funding. Others, however, are attracting more support, especially where regional administrations believe that they have an interest in the activity—as in the case of the Volga River revival programme mentioned above.

National environmental policies of Ukraine

  45.    In the case of Ukraine, in line with national priorities, the 1996-99 Indicative Programme has identified the following environmental priorities:

     waste water management

     solid waste management

     industrial pollution control

     district heating

     hazardous waste management


  46.    Because Ukraine shares frontiers with five Central European countries, four of whom in turn share frontiers with the EU, the Tacis Cross­Border Co­operation programme is of particular importance. The programme focuses on the environment in the following areas:

     transfrontier nature of environmental issues

     environmental degradation problems caused by industrialisation and agricultural policy

     new environmental policy development

     clean technology

     training, with respect to the areas above and more generally

     pre-investment project development

     small-scale infrastructure projects.

  47.    Specific matters in the area of the environment are covered by Article 63 of the PCA document for Ukraine, which came into force in March 1998. At present, the Ukrainian authorities regard this document as rather lacking in detail, though the range of environmental topics covered is considered comprehensive and relevant to Ukraine and EU concerns, and provides a broad framework of co­operation and direction for technical assistance (p 100). More detailed priorities and actions have been developed during the 4-year Indicative Programme, which is running currently, and in the annual Action, Inter-State and Cross Border strategy papers. For the future, it is expected that the PCA Co­operation Councils and Committees (see paragraph 27) will have the task of steering detailed priorities more closely.

  48.    The Ukraine Government's memorandum indicates that there is now close and effective co­operation between the Ukrainian authorities and Tacis (pp 100-101). Current programmes range across the following environmental areas:
National Programmes

  Strengthening the State Environmental Inspectorate in the Ministry of Environment and Nuclear Safety

  Strengthening regional capacity for industrial waste treatment and management

  Water treatment support for Mariupol

Inter-State Programmes involving Ukraine

  Raising Environmental Awareness and developing Environmental Media in the NIS and Mongolia

  Development of common environmental policies in the NIS and Mongolia

  Widening of the Environmental Action Programme to the NIS and Mongolia

  Setting up new Regional Environmental Centres in Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Russia

  Raising public awareness, developing environmental media and resourcing good practice

  Tacis Regional Seas Programme (e.g. the Black Sea Environmental Programme)

Cross Border Co­operation Programmes involving Ukraine

  Accident and emergency warning system and monitoring, laboratory and information management for the Danube Basin (Ukraine and Moldova sections)

  Carpathian Transfrontier Environmental Network

  River Bug transboundary water quality assessment

In addition, there are several small-scale environmental projects under Bistro, Tempus and Lien (see next section) and under the Cross­Border Co­operation Programme (see paragraph 33).


  49.    A wide range of smaller programmes are funded by Tacis, many of which contain environmental elements, under the umbrella title of the Small Project Programmes (SPP). Examples of these programmes are in the box opposite; of them, a programme which is of particular relevance to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is the so­called "Bistro" facility (see paragraphs 65-66). The various sub-programmes and projects within the SPP were previously known as "facilities" or "framework programmes", which (somewhat confusingly) were synonymous.

  50.    The SPP allow Tacis to be more efficient in promoting co­operation with NGOs, local authorities and other institutions, all of which have an important role to play in the development of the market economy and in the building up of a pluralist democratic society. They allow for a considerable degree of flexibility as they are structured to meet a general rather than a specific set of objectives. Their structure also defines the appropriate implementation mechanisms within which the funding and operation of individual activities may take place with specific partner organisations. This process means that the identification and selection of initiatives to be funded is very much demand-driven.

  51.    The possibilities for participation in the small programmes differ from programme to programme, as some of them cover the whole of the NIS while others only apply to one or more countries. Projects may be carried out either by organisations from within the partner countries or through the direct transfer of Western know-how. The programmes break down into two main areas:

     Small programmes (previously "facilities"), where funds are committed to a general theme or service, and where organisations in the NIS (with or without a EU partner) make project proposals for small-scale initiatives in support of the chosen theme;

     Support Structures and/or Sites, which are set up wholly or partly with Tacis funding and expertise, as concrete entities in the NIS, to which organisations in the NIS may apply for support. These entities should then remain in situ, after Tacis support is terminated, at the service of NIS organisations.

  52.    Before 1996, these programmes were funded under the Tacis Inter-State programme. From 1996, however, they have been funded through individual countries which allocate a proportion of their national Action Programmes for this purpose. From 1998 onwards, the SPP allocations from the various national Action Programmes will be synchronised at an early stage, in order to improve efficiency and overview and also to permit an earlier launch of the programmes.

  Examples of Small Project Programmes

  Policy Advice programme (including environmental policy)

  Joint Vienna Institute (serves both Tacis and Phare)

  Productivity Initiative programme (includes policy reform)

  European Senior Service Network programme (mainly concerns privatisation of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs))

  Mercure programme: technical assistance to NIS Chambers of Commerce

  NIS Europartenariat Scheme: to encourage SMEs in less-favoured NIS regional locations

  "Bistro" programme: to assist small NGO projects

  Joint Venture programme: encourages EU economic operators who are creating joint ventures with NIS partners

  Customs programme: assists the fight against illegal activities, such as fraud and the transportation of drugs and nuclear materials

  Statistics programme: to assist to develop NIS statistical systems to the information needs of a democratic society and a market economy (including environmental statistics)

  Standards, Certification and Metrology programme: to develop functioning systems which are compatible between NIS countries and with the EU (including environmental standards)

  Intellectual Property Protection programme: to establish effective systems for the protection of intellectual property in the NIS area

  Industrial Property Protection programme: to assist to develop national and regional legislation for this protection.

Tacis Tempus

  53.    The substantial Tempus Programme (Trans-European Co-operation Scheme for Higher Education)—technically part of the SPP—is designed to contribute to the development of the higher education systems of the NIS and Mongolia. The programme is university and higher education-based, and is administered by the Commission's DG XXII (Education, Training and Youth), in association with DG 1A. The programme was adopted by the Council of Ministers in May 1990, initially for the countries of Central Europe, now the Phare Tempus area. This was extended in April 1993 to cover the New Independent States and Mongolia, to produce the Tacis Tempus programme. The two programmes are now seen as separate but parallel schemes in administrative and budgetary terms. These present schemes are both planned to run until 2000-01. Tempus programmes are funded from within the SPP allocation for a given partner country. Thus, in 1996, the Russian Federation received 8 mecu (£5.6 million) for Tempus programmes and the Ukraine 5 mecu (£3.5 million). From the academic session 1998-99, all 13 partner countries may take part in the full Tacis Tempus programme; before that, only 9 were fully eligible (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Mongolia, Russian Federation, Ukraine and Uzbekistan).

  54.    Tacis Tempus has been designed as a major human resources development scheme which aims to strengthen the ability of the higher education sector to meet national policies and priorities, including environmental protection. It is a bottom-up programme which is responsive to the specific needs of individual institutions in the partner countries. A Tempus partnership, or consortium, is normally made up of one or two higher education institutions based upon the same partner country[28], plus two or three EU higher education institutions, based at least in two different EU Member States.[29]

  55.    Tempus supports two types of projects:

     Joint European Projects in the Russian Federation, Ukraine and Uzbekistan only, and additional support for student mobility in the Russian Federation is being provided in 1998 with the institution of the new Mobility JEPs. JEPs are 3-year projects which aim to contribute to the long term development and renewal of the partner countries' higher education. In the shorter term, they aim to create centres disseminating good practice to other institutions in the partner countries.

     Compact Projects in all the partner countries. These are the main instruments to operate in the field of university management and administration, including the development of international linkages for the partner institutions involved.

  56.    Tempus projects are formulated by universities in the partner countries, in co-operation with their counterparts from the EU, where the universities stand ready to contribute their know-how and experience. While in the earlier parts of the Tempus programme these partnerships sometimes rested upon a dominant input from the EU-based institution, this balance has tended to change as the overall programme has proceeded, so that by now, most individual programmes are supported by genuine east-west institutional partnerships. Each programme has a Contractor institution (normally an EU-based partner of a consortium) and a Co-ordinating institution, which may now be a Russian or Ukrainian partner institution, as part of the growing sense of equal partnership in the programme.

  57.    Within the context of higher education co-operation, Tempus seeks to address the following fields specifically:

     issues of curriculum development and renewal in priority areas,

     the reform of higher education structures and institutions, and of their management,

     the development of skill-related training to address specific higher and advanced level skill shortages during economic reform, in particular through improved and extended links with industry and business.

  58.    Although the field of the environment figures clearly as one of the principal objectives of the Tacis programme as a whole, Tempus itself does not place it as one of the programme's specific objectives, although in practice it may be subsumed under a number of other priorities. In their own lists of national Tempus priorities for higher education, however, most individual partner countries specify the environment as a priority (or Environmental Economics, Environmental Sciences, Environmental Law, etc.). In this way, of the partner countries eligible for Tempus funding in 1998, only Armenia, Belarus, Georgia and Mongolia did not give the environment as one of their priorities for funding during the 1998-1999 period.

Tacis Lien

  59.    The Tacis Link Inter-European NGOs (Lien) programme aims specifically to help develop the NGOs in the NIS and Mongolia which work in the social sector, specifically with disadvantaged communities such as those in poorer inner-city or rural areas. The programme has obvious relevance to the environment, given the wide range of environmental problems which exists within such areas and communities. In the year 1996-97, a total of 7.15 mecu (£5 million) was allocated to around 40 Lien programmes. The basis of Lien funding is that the Tacis programme provides 80 per cent of the funding to a programme budget (up to a maximum of 200,000 ecu (£140,000)), with the NGO concerned finding the rest, half of it in cash terms.

  60.    Typically, the Lien programme involves EU-based NGOs working together with NIS NGOs on actions to ensure better social integration of the deprived and marginalised sections of the population. These may include the following:

     providing the unemployed with training and support, in order to find employment

     improving the health and status of women through professional training and by developing improved access to employment opportunities

     developing sustainable social and health programmes where existing infrastructures and services are weak, in order to support disadvantaged target groups.

  61.    Priority is normally given to projects which include two or more EU-based NGOs which are aiming to build up strong links with partner countries, and to those which actively involve NGOs and other organisations working at the local level. It is intended that successful Lien projects should be used as models for diffusion purposes in the NIS countries, to encourage other organisations not initially funded under the Tacis Lien programme to follow the example of those which have been funded.

Tacis City-Twinning

  62.    The Tacis City-Twinning Programme was launched in 1995 and allocations have been made in each year since that time. It has a total annual budget of 9 mecu (£6.3 million) and aims to support local autonomy in the NIS by assisting the local and regional authorities in the improvement of their administrative and technical services and working practices. It seeks the co­operation of decentralised EU local and regional authorities in helping their NIS partners to provide appropriate training for their civil servants. Such exchanges of experience and good practice and training for local government officers help the short-term implementation of identified reform plans and also enhance more sustainable longer-term co­operation. The City-Twinning Programme has recently been upgraded from a pilot programme to a permanent programme within the overall Tacis Small Project Programmes.

  63.    There were 65 projects under way during 1997, covering mostly the fields of the environment, economic development, social policy and public administration, but applications to the programme are considered from any field which lies within the normal competence of a local or regional authority. In addition to the organisation of and the participation in conferences and seminars within a project, contacts for the further dissemination of results and for future co­operation are also normally developed by exchange visits being organised for the mayors and other elected representatives of the localities concerned, this being regarded as an important element in the development of the "people to people" characteristics of the overall Tacis Programme.

  64.    Evidence was received on the following projects currently or recently running under the City-Twinning Programme and involving UK local authorities (pp 15-20):

     Mendip District Council working on two projects with the city authorities of Svetlogorsk in Belarus-the first covering environmental matters; the second providing comprehensive training and assistance in strategy preparation relating to an HIV epidemic in the city;

     Southampton City Council working on transport-related matters in the city of Kaliningrad (Russian Federation);

     Hampshire County Council working on the development of the public transport network of the city of Chisinau, the capital city of Moldova;

     Sheffield City Council working with the municipal authorities of Izhevsk (a town in European Russia between Kazan and Perm), in the field of transport-related pollution.


  65.    The Tacis "Bistro"[30] Small Programme is designed to respond quickly to requests for support to small-scale projects anywhere in the Russian Federation and Ukraine. Bistro projects have a maximum life of 9 months and a support limit of 100,000 ecu (£70,000). The areas of co­operation and the priorities for Bistro are the same as those identified in the Tacis Indicative Programme, and include:

     enterprise support

     financial services

     human resources (including education and training, public administration)

     social protection

     food production, processing and distribution



     transport and telecommunications


  66.    The type of activities which are normally funded take the form of training or written expertise, and these may be used to kick-start a larger action which is not funded by Tacis, or to finance activities which complement main Tacis activities, such as pre-projects, linked projects, follow-up and dissemination projects. Within the Bistro rules, however, it is essential that there is no overlapping of Tacis projects with Bistro. Also, Bistro cannot support projects where similar activities are already being carried out under another Tacis project or where the proposed activities are eligible for another Tacis Small Programme. Bistro for the Russian Federation began in January 1994, and had a budget of 3.5 mooch (£2.4 million) during 1997. In Ukraine, Bistro began in September 1995 and has a current budget of 1 mooch (£700,000).

24   Russian Federation Action Plan 1996-97 (information obtained by members of Sub-Committee C visiting Moscow). Back

25   Detailed examples of these activities are given in the 1997 Tacis Annual Report. Back

26   The Convention on Biological Diversity was signed by the EC and the Member States at the UN Conference on Environment and Development, Rio de Janeiro, 1992 (see Decision 93/626/EEC, OJ L309, 13 December 1993). Back

27   We understand that the Russian NEAP has recently been produced and approved at government level but awaits ratification by the Duma (the lower chamber of the Russian Federal Parliament). Back

28   In a Tempus Compact Project (see next paragraph), the second partner country institution may be an enterprise or an organisation instead of a higher education institution. Back

29   Optionally, a consortium may also include one higher education institution based in another OECD Member State (though non-OECD countries are expected to finance their own participation costs). Back

30   From the Russian "bystro", meaning "quick"; hence the French "bistro(t)"-a fast-service bar. Back

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