Select Committee on European Communities Thirty-Third Report


List of Recommendations

1.    Tacis should always fully demonstrate the public and clearly-agreed linkages between individual national environmental policies and Tacis policy and environmental programmes. NGOs can play a key role as a spur to action. (194)

2.    Understanding differences of culture is an essential part of effective delivery of development assistance, as it is of international relations generally. Organisations seeking to engage with the New Independent States, particularly those in Europe, must beware of superficial similarities which can, in fact, be deceptive. (196)

3.    We consider that Tacis should urgently seek much closer co­operation and co­ordination of policy and activity with other appropriate technical assistance programmes, including the activities and lending policies of International Financial Institutions. It should in particular build on the mechanisms provided in the Environmental Action Programme Task Force and the Project Preparation Committee. This would be consistent with the Declaration of European Environment Ministers meeting in Århus, Denmark, in June 1998. (198)

4.    We feel that the Commission should demonstrate much greater transparency and easier accessibility in Tacis programmes and processes in order to encourage a wider range of would-be applicants and tenderers. More needs to be done to make Tacis responsive to the needs of civil, rather than government, stakeholders at the local and national level. At the level of the European Union, there should be processes of consultation that allow full participation by national and international NGOs. The Commission and all States Parties to the Århus Convention of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe must bear in mind that the principles of public access to environmental information and rights of participation apply just as much to the Tacis Programme as they do in other areas of environmental policy. (200)

5.    Tacis should reinforce its existing "People to People" policy, with renewed attempts to work and develop trust with and between individuals (rather than just organisations) in the NIS countries' context, in addition to the contacts that necessarily occur at intergovernmental level. (202)

6.    Fostering the growth of a strong, independent environmental NGO movement in the NIS, with the resources and facilities for effective networking, should be a priority for Tacis. Tacis should look towards the expansion of its smaller-scale programmes (eg Bistro, City-Twinning, Lien), in order to provide NGOs and other appropriate interests with more scope for capacity-building, grass-roots participation and greater sense of ownership. The EU delegations to NIS countries should have greater discretion to approve small projects without reference to Brussels. (204)

7.    The European Union and its Member States must recognise that when they deal with the NIS they are dealing with educated and sophisticated partners, who have just as much to give as to receive. We therefore recommend that as a matter of urgency, the Commission should promote considerably greater Tacis programme participation by host-country national experts, and should consider ways in which procedures might be modified to provide better opportunities for NIS partners to develop appropriate management skills. The Commission should also consider making more use of experts from the CEECs, with their longer experience of the process of transition. (206)

8.    Tacis should review its policies concerning the levels of fees allowed in its programmes for EU-based and host-country based experts, in order that, taking into account the differences in cost of living, fee differentials between the two sets of experts are reduced as far as practicable. Whilst it is evident that some EU Member States tend to focus on the immediate benefits in terms of fee income earned by their nationals, there are longer-term benefits, in terms of doing business with the NIS, to be had from Tacis programmes which have a catalytic effect and are capable of being replicated on a wide scale. (208)

9.    When a programme comes up for possible renewal or continuation, Tacis should ensure that the design of the programme fully meets the changing needs of the host-country or countries concerned and that the experts and consultants to be involved have been subject to close evaluation of performance. The aim should be to have dynamic flexibility without over-rigid rules. Arrangements should not be so "comfortable" that reappointment can be taken for granted; on the other hand, the rules should not preclude the reappointment of consultants whose performance has been exceptional. (210)

10.  Tacis should invest more in familiarisation programmes and documentation for its experts and would-be tenderers, who will find themselves working in a culture which is often very different from their own. Periods of attachment to relevant Western organisations for NIS partners offer notable value for money and should be encouraged through Tacis. (212)

11.  Tacis should adopt the practice of more delegation of responsibility from Brussels being given to the in­country Tacis teams, and Tacis in-country experts should be fully involved at all stages of the planning of new programmes and projects. The new Common Service Directorate should explore the possibilities as one of its early tasks. (214)

12.  Staff resources and competence in DG 1A should be reviewed and strengthened, allowing for possible longer tours of duty (both in Brussels and in the field), better continuity of advice and project supervision, and for delays to be drastically reduced. A "help desk" service for Tacis staff and partners in the field should be revived or developed further. (216)

13.  Subject to suitable appraisal and safeguards to ensure that funds for project implementation and evaluation are not put at risk, we feel that the present permitted Tacis allocation for equipment funding (20 per cent or less of total programme funding) should be made more flexible. (218)

14.  Tacis should set up a central database of previously completed Tacis programmes and projects, together with evaluation data. To be of real value, the database should include details of projects funded by other donors and international financial institutions in similar areas of activity. There should be open public access to such a facility. (220)

15.  Considerably more information about the monitoring procedures for Tacis programmes should be made public to all concerned. A greater degree of coherence is needed between the in­country Monitoring Units, the EU Delegations and DG 1A in Brussels (including the separate Tacis evaluation service). Evaluation is an essential part of the process of ongoing project management, and should be reflected in the Commission's procedures and backed by adequate resources and training. In the long-term interests of the EU's relations with the NIS, the Commission and Member States must be prepared to strike a balance between monitoring requirements and the risks of project failure, and should not impose disproportionately onerous systems on Tacis staff and their partners. The new Common Service Directorate should, as a matter of priority, devise a coherent and seamless relationship between monitoring and evaluation. The European Environment Agency has a potentially important role in this area too. (222)

16.  It is essential that the Commission should work closely with OECD, the EBRD and other international financial institutions to ensure that no Tacis project is approved without a clear strategy for follow-on activity. This would include a business plan which makes provision for enhancement and further development of the project and for its long-term funding. (224)

17.  We would hope that the various comments and recommendations which we have made in this Part of the Report will strike a sympathetic note with the Commission and the Council as they deliberate on the new Regulation. As we have said, it is essential to maintain and strengthen the position of environment as a priority area for Tacis. In saying that, we would wish to emphasise one point. The critical nature of nuclear safety issues in the NIS makes it essential that nuclear matters and other aspects of the environment should remain separate indicative areas in the new Regulation. In future, however, they should be placed under entirely separate headings for budgetary and presentational purposes. (226)

previous page contents

House of Lords home page Parliament home page House of Commons home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1999