Select Committee on European Communities Seventeenth Report


26.  FUNDS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS WORK

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to the Rt Hon Clare Short MP, Secretary of State for International Development, Department for International Development

  In your letter of 2 December[8] you explained the then current position on the administration of human rights programmes, and promised to keep the Committee informed of developments. We have heard nothing further from you, and we are wondering how the recent events in Brussels have affected this programme. Could I ask you to let us have an update please?

30 March 1999

Letter from the Rt Hon Clare Short MP, Secretary of State for International Development, Department for International Development, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  Thank you for your letter of 30 March about the current position on the Commission's administration of human rights programmes. I apologise for not updating you sooner.

  As I explained in my previous letter, following the agreement of more stringent Commission internal guidelines and concerns raised by the Court of Auditors, the Commission resumed responsibility for the managing the human rights programmes previously run by EHRF. The Commission claimed that it directly funded 95 per cent of the activities EHRF would have co-ordinated during 1998. However, since that time, it appears that administrative backlogs have built up and the Commission now proposes to re-engage EHRF on a temporary basis, of up to a year, to help clear them. At the current time, we are unclear of the arrangements through which the Commission can employ EHRF and continue to respect the internal guidelines and the Court's findings. My officials are looking into this. At a broader level, these developments raise serious questions about the Commission's capacity to manage programmes of this nature effectively.

  As regards the human rights regulations, the European Parliament recently completed their second reading of the proposals and the text is due to be discussed in the Council working group for development cooperation on 19 April. By virtue of an inter-institutional agreement concluded at the beginning of 1999, spending on human rights projects has been able to continue in the absence of agreed regulations. However, I hope that the regulations will be ready for adoption shortly.

22 April 1999

Letter from Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee, to the Rt Hon Clare Short MP, Secretary of State for International Development, Department for International Development

  Thank you for your letter of 22 April about the current position on the Commission's administration of human rights programmes. We share your concerns about the Commission's capacity to manage programmes of this nature effectively, and we are glad to note that your officials are looking at the arrangements which are being made for the programmes previously run by EHRF.

  We also note that you expect the human rights regulations to be ready for adoption shortly.

17 May 1999


8   Printed in Correspondence with Ministers, 4th Report, Session 1998-99, p 67. Back


 
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