Select Committee on European Communities Thirty-Third Report


PARTNERSHIP AND TRUST: THE TACIS PROGRAMME

The Environment of Russia and the New Independent States

PART 1 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND

THE PHARE AND TACIS DEMOCRACY PROGRAMME

  67.    The Tacis Democracy Programme was launched by the European Commission in 1992 in order to help promote a democratic Russia. Its particular aims were to:

     increase knowledge of democratic practice at local and regional levels

     support the work of NGOs, thereby helping to promote a pluralist democratic society

     transfer specific expertise and technical skills concerning democracy and the rule of law to professional groups and associations.

  68.    In February 1997, the internal management of this programme was integrated with the Phare Democracy Programme, to become the Phare and Tacis Democracy Programme (PTDP). The PTDP is part-funded directly by Tacis, as part of the agreed Action Plans for individual countries. It is not normally listed as one of the Small Project Programmes, but stands as a separate programme. It continues to help build democratic institutions and to encourage the development of democratic practices in a society governed by a multi-party system. It tends to operate in two ways:

     it pays for experts to advise governmental and public institutions in the NIS to develop and understanding of parliamentary practice, the rule of law, civic education and the role of an independent media;

     it provides co-financing for EU NGOs to work with their counterparts in the NIS in the active promotion of democratic practices. East-west projects (not necessarily including an EU partner) are also included.

  69.    In 1996, the total budget for the former Tacis Democracy Programme was 11 mooch (£8 million), which supported 40 programmes. In 1997, the merged PTDP supported 45 programmes, though there were as many as 270 applications. Most of the Tacis budget in the PTDP has so far been spent on large projects in the Russian Federation and in Ukraine, focusing particularly on the development of NGOs, but also on awareness building, independent media and human rights.

  70.    The 1997 Tacis Annual Report stresses the continued need for this programme. It is also endorsed by the Tacis Interim Evaluation Report,[31] which has pointed to the need for further democratic development and civic society-building, in the light of local respect for the rule of law, political parties, NGOs, the media, human rights and minorities. According to this Report, the main impact of the programme up to the present time, especially in the Russian Federation, has been "to create a lively NGO sector, which both contributes to the process of democratisation and provides a bulwark against the reversal of the process of democratisation which is happening in some countries." (Belarus and Kazakhstan are mentioned in this context.)

OTHER BILATERAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMMES

  71.    Many bilateral technical assistance programmes have environmental components. The United Kingdom's current international development budget now amounts to around £2254 million; of this, approximately £80 million is Know How Fund expenditure, of which in turn approximately £45 million goes as technical assistance to the NIS (the environment accounting for around £1.6 million, i.e. about 3½ per cent). Over 30 per cent of the UK's overseas development programme is spent through the EU; of this, about one third goes to the transition countries, split between the CEECs and the NIS in the ratio of about 2:1. About 15 per cent of total EU spending goes to the CEECs and about 7-8 per cent to the NIS.

  72.    Some examples of the levels of assistance which other major Western states give to the NIS are as follows (1996 figures):
Donor Country Assistance to Russian Federation Assistance to Ukraine Total assistance to the NIS Environment component (% of NIS total)

United States
  £m

  265

  £m

  163

  £m

  639

£m

 13   (2%)

Germany  300   43  428 33   (8%)
Sweden  12   2  19 12   (63%)
Canada  9   9  >18   N/A
Sources: DFID, OECD and World Bank (with some rounding to accommodate minor inconsistencies)

TACIS: ORGANISATION AND PROCEDURES

Organisational considerations

  73.    The division of roles and responsibilities in the Commission in relation to the Tacis programme has to accommodate a number of factors:

     Centralised control over certain elements of programme operation, to ensure that:

      (a)    the rules and procedures for the use of EU funds are applied, and

      (b)  Tacis activities accord with overall EU political objectives and are integrated with the activities of other Dgs in the Commission;

     Close co­operation with partner countries to ensure that Tacis funding is relevant to each country's own reform policies and priorities;

     The need for the Member States of the EU to monitor the programme;

     The ability to decentralise the implementation and monitoring work to the partner countries, a process which is beginning to take place on a planned basis. As a result, elements of management responsibility are increasingly spread between the EU's institutions and organisations in the partner countries.

New Joint Service for management of Community assistance to third countries

  74.    With a view to harmonising procedures (not just for Tacis), the Commission has decided to form a Common Service Directorate to manage all external assistance to non­EU countries. An internal Commission note about the Directorate's functions is reproduced in Appendix 4.[32] The Common Service came into operation in September 1998. Broadly, its responsibility is to manage the implementation of all the Commission's external assistance programmes, apart from those run by the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), after the point at which financing has been approved. The Head of the Common Service reports to the Directors-General of Dgs 1, 1A, 1B and VIII. In practice it is taking a little time for the new arrangements to bed down and for the detailed division of responsibilities between the Common Service and the DGs to evolve.[33]

Relationship between the Commission, the Council and the European Parliament

  75.    Figure 3 demonstrates diagrammatically the main linkages between the Tacis programme and the EU institutions. The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers are the budgetary authorities for deciding the overall size of the Tacis budget in any one year. The Council of Ministers is also responsible for approving the legal framework of the Tacis programme. The European Parliament is able to influence Tacis policy by creating certain specific budget lines or by adding comments to the budget which may stipulate conditions under which specific elements of the Tacis budget should be spent. Council business involving Tacis is handled through the Development Council, on which the UK is represented by the Secretary of State for International Development.



The Tacis Management Committee

  76.    Representatives of the Member States make up the membership of the Tacis Management Committee, established under the Regulation, and have the task of monitoring the Tacis programme and scrutinising the various stages of planning. The Committee studies the Tacis Indicative Programmes and their proposed budgets, before the financing programmes are passed to the European Commission for approval.

Organisation within DG 1A

  77.    The setting up of the Common Service Directorate (paragraph 74) affects the organisation of DG 1A; at the time of reporting, DG 1A was about to move to the following formation. The Director-General (Herr Günter Burghardt) is supported by two Deputy Directors-General, one of whom (M François Lamoureux) is responsible for external relations with Europe (and Mongolia). M Lamoureux in turn is supported by three Directorates, of which Directorate C (headed by Mr Timo Summa) is responsible for relations with the NIS and Mongolia (including Tacis). Directorate C of DG 1A comprises the following Units:

    Unit C1: EU-NIS relations; horizontal issues, including Inter-State and Cross-Border programmes, relations with other EU institutions and relations with international financial institutions.

    Units C2-C4: structured on a geographical basis—C2 for the Russian Federation, C3 for Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus, and C4 for Central Asian and Caucasus countries and Mongolia; within the scope of its geographical competence, each Unit is in charge of:

       the preparation, negotiation and implementation of PCAs and interim agreements;

       the management of trade relations with the partner countries;

       the programming and implementation of the Tacis programme, including the formulation of sector policies and annual programmes;

       co­ordination with other donors.

    Units are staffed by Desk Officers and their supporting staff; detailed internal organisation varies.

    Unit C5: nuclear safety and the co­ordination of the energy sector (of particular significance for Ukraine and the Russian Federation).

    The separate Tacis Information Office reports to the Director-General's office.

Tacis organisation in the field

(a)  Tacis Co­ordinating Units

  78.    Important elements of the organisation of DG1A and Tacis are located in the NIS partner countries. In each country, a Tacis Co­ordinating Unit is set up by the partner government in association with Tacis. These Units are under the supervision of a Tacis National Co­ordinator, who usually reports to a government minister. Each Unit is also supported by a small number of experts financed by Tacis; its main responsibilities are:

     the elaboration of Indicative Programmes

     the elaboration of Action Programmes; preselection and final selection of proposals

     the implementation and evaluation of Action Programmes

     other tasks, including promotion and information on Tacis.

(b) EU Delegations

  79.    There are four European Union Delegations in the Tacis area, based on Moscow, Kiev, Tbilisi and Almaty, which between them cover the whole Tacis area. In the context of the Tacis programme, the responsibilities of a delegation normally depend upon the size of its Tacis team and on how well established the delegation is. Globally, these responsibilities are:

     to manage relations with national authorities in the context of Tacis

     to participate in the preparation of Indicative Programmes, together with the National Co­ordinator, the technical ministries and DG1A in Brussels.

     to assist with all stages in the preparation of Action Programmes.

     once the financing decisions are taken by the European Commission, to secure their signing by the National Co­ordinator concerned.

     to prepare the terms of reference of a number of invitations to tender, at the request of Tacis

     to receive the expatriate experts working on Tacis projects and to provide guidance

     to provide experts with assistance in the implementation of projects

     to supervise the implementation of projects to manage the Tacis Bistro facility (in Moscow and Kiev)

     to inform EU and local contractors about Tacis possibilities

     to prepare six-monthly reports on the situation in each of the sectors covered by the Tacis programme

     to act as a focal point for visits from DG1A, the European Parliament and the Court of Auditors.

(c) Tacis Technical Offices

  80.    The separate network of Tacis Technical Offices provide technical assistance to the partner countries concerned, supporting the preparation and implementation of Tacis programmes. They usually consist of one or more Tacis-funded experts, both western or local. There are currently seven Technical Offices, 6 in Russia and one in Belarus.

(d) Tacis Monitoring and Evaluation Service

  81.    Tacis Monitoring Units, which like the Technical Offices are separate from the EU Delegations, are based on three locations (Moscow, Kiev and Almaty). Their tasks are:

     to carry out systematic on-the-ground monitoring of Tacis projects;

     to monitor set projects on a regular basis, highlight issues in relation to project progress, and make recommendations to management.

The teams are made up of external experts contracted by the European Commission under the Tacis budget, and working to pre-agreed terms of reference. As a matter of principle, each team is bilateral, with equal numbers of Western and local experts; this is designed to ensure even-handed assessment of project performance. The aim is that all the teams can perform their work with absolute professional independence, in order to achieve excellence in their work.

  82.    Until recently the Monitoring Units carried out project evaluation as well as monitoring; evaluation is now the responsibility of a separate unit in Brussels, which sends out teams of mainly contract staff to carry out selected project evaluations in the partner countries.

(e) Tacis Programme Contractors

  83.    Tacis programme contractors are drawn from a wide range of public organisations, non-commercial organisations and private organisations and companies. As a matter of policy, invitations to tender for contracts funded by Tacis are open on equal terms to all natural and legal persons from the member states of the EU and from the Tacis partner countries. Tacis increasingly encourages the use of locally-based participants, as they are more familiar with local conditions, which also facilitates the onward transfer of know-how to other local experts.


31   See paragraph 117 below. Back

32   The Commission's document (dated October 1997) uses the title "Joint Service to manage Community aid to non-member countries" (in French "Service Commun Relex (SCR) de la gestion de l'aide aux pays tiers"). The Head of the SCR (M Phillipe Soubestre) holds the rank of Director-General. Back

33   Information from DFID, November 1998. Back


 
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