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Baroness Amos: My Lords, I can assure my noble friend that the new policy will be taken very seriously. One of the reasons why the Department for International Development was created as a separate body was to ensure that all the linkages between trade, security sector reform and development were looked at in the context of sustainability and the long-term economic viability of developing countries.
Lord Redesdale: My Lords, bearing in mind the cost if conflict prevention fails, will the Minister give consideration to increasing the budget for defence diplomacy initiatives? Such initiatives have been extremely successful in the past.
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I can assure the noble Lord that we consider conflict prevention and resolution key to successful development. Defence diplomacy is delivered by the Ministry of Defence, and the Department for International Development works in close co-operation with the FCO and the MoD on these matters.
Lord Monkswell: My Lords, can my noble friend confirm that as part of the security sector reform proper training and equipment for police and armed forces in developing countries are highlighted to ensure that such security forces come under democratic control?
Viscount Waverley: My Lords, I believe that that is a commendable initiative, but is it recognised that the majority of developing nations have sufficient military and civilian equipment but that it is unusable through not having been serviced or properly maintained over the years? Would it not be better for the Government to concentrate on providing expert technicians and trainers to ensure the good running of that equipment and infrastructure?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, we take an integrated approach to these matters. Therefore we are considering a number of different aspects. We supply technical experts as well as trainers. Upgrading equipment can be more expensive in the longer term than new equipment.
As regards security sector matters, we take into account the ability of a country to afford the equipment that it wishes to procure. Those criteria are considered when looking at export trade licences.
Lord McNair: My Lords, since the armaments industry is one of this country's major export earners, does the Minister see a conflict in the new policy between her department and the Department of Trade and Industry?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, there is no conflict between the Department for International Development and the Department of Trade and Industry. These matters are considered in a cross-departmental working group. The DfID considers clear criteria in making representations to the DTI which the DTI then takes on board.
The Earl of Sandwich: My Lords, what proportion of the humanitarian work carried out by our Armed Forces in Macedonia--I am sure that we all applaud it--is carried by the Ministry of Defence? Can that proportion be maintained?
"We need a new framework for the security of the whole of the Balkans"?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, we recognise that the crisis will have an enormous and lingering impact on the economies of Bulgaria, Romania and neighbouring countries. There are the initial consequences of a large influx of refugees. There are also the effects of the contraction of regional trade, damage to the infrastructure, environmental damage and possible political instability. We are committed to ensuring that in the long term those matters are considered not just in terms of our own support for those countries but also within the European Union. We are also having conversations with the international financial institutions.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, after any essential short-term aid, is not trade the most helpful thing which the EU can offer these countries in the longer term; in other words, to open up its market to their products?
In that respect, is it not very misguided to expect Bulgaria, Romania and the other CEEC countries first to gain full membership of the EU, which would mean weighing down their economies with the 300,000 pages of EU social and labour legislation, known in the jargon as the acquis communautaire?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, we have been in extensive consultation with Romania and Bulgaria as regards the best means of assisting those countries in the long term. Since 1991, we have provided £30 million in terms of bilateral assistance to Romania. We have introduced a range of projects, including development management training centres and assistance for the decentralisation and reform of child welfare services. We are currently preparing a country strategy paper to enable Romania successfully to transfer to a pluralist democracy with well regulated markets.
As regards Bulgaria, we published earlier this year a country strategy paper in which we expressed a strong commitment to the reformist policies of the current government elected in 1997. We continue to work with both those countries to ensure that their economic and political priorities will enable them to join the EU at an appropriate time.
Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, first, so far as concerns the countries of central Europe, are there not provisions to gain access to European markets? Secondly, will the Minister indicate whether discussions are taking place within the Council and Commission to ensure that there is an uplift so far as concerns the PHARE programme in relation to the central European states? Are there any discussions concerning the TACIS programme?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, there are discussions in the context of the PHARE programme in terms of improving the amount given to those countries. We are concerned that countries seeking to enter the European Union have institutions which guarantee democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect for and protection of minorities. In addition, we are looking at their economic and trade relationships.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, does the Minister agree that Romania and Bulgaria have a long way to go in the treatment of religious and ethnic minorities before they can comply with the standards and principles of the European Union? Will the noble Baroness consider the recently passed broadcasting Act in Bulgaria which is in conflict with the advice we gave that country at its own request?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, I confirm that there have been concerns about the treatment of minorities, in particular in Romania. I shall have to look into the specific point on Bulgaria and come back to the noble Lord.
The Earl of Onslow: My Lords, can the Minister answer the question on trade posed by my noble friend Lord Pearson of Rannoch? Is the noble Baroness aware that when Bulgaria asked for an increase in trade there was an argument over half-a-lorry-load of raspberry juice, and that when Hungary suggested that it produce more foie gras the French kicked up a fuss? EU trade relations and trade agreements make it more difficult for eastern Europe to trade in the produce which it finds easiest to produce. We should surely help those countries with trade not aid. The noble Baroness failed totally to answer the question about trade. She went on about democratic institutions--and all the rest of it. It was not good enough.
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