Select Committee on European Union Forty-Ninth Report


COUNTER-TERRORISM ASSISTANCE TO THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITIES

Letter from Denis MacShane, Minister for Europe, to the Chairman

  Your Committee will wish to be aware of the possibility of further EU action to provide counter-terrorism assistance to the Palestinian authorities.

  The EU first adopted a Joint Action on counter-terrorism assistance to the Palestinian Authority in 1997 (Joint Action 97/289/CFSP of 29 April 1997). Decision 1999/440/CFSP provided for the extension of the Joint Action and for it to be reviewed no later than 30 June 2000. The review concluded that the programme was making an important contribution to meeting the EU's objectives to support the Palestinian Authority in its efforts to counter terrorist activities. In April 2000, the EU decided to adopt a new Joint Action for a three year long programme (Joint Action 2000/298/CFSP of 13 April 2000).

  The objective of the current programme is to support the Palestinian Authority's capacity to counter terrorism, assist in the establishment of related Palestinian administrative structures, help sustain the Middle East Peace Process and provide the relevant security and police services with assistance and training that is fully compatible with the principles of human rights and respect for the rule of law.

  The current Joint Action will expire on 13 April 2003. On 17 December 2002, the EU's Political and Security Committee agreed in principle to the continuation of the programme in one form or another. An Action Statement has been drawn up which sets out the key elements of a new programme which would provide expert counter-terrorism assistance able to respond to an ever-changing security situation. The aim of the programme will be to provide advice on internal Palestinian security reform through analysis, managerial tools and strategies to build long-term capabilities within the Palestinian security structures. This work will be carried out by the EU Special Adviser, Erikkson, supported by two counter-terrorism experts from EU Member States. There is consensus amongst Partners on the need for a new programme. Consultation among EU counter-terrorism experts on the Action Statement proved time consuming. It will therefore only be possible to submit it for Political and Security Committee approval on 1 April.

  We hope agreement will be reached on the elements contained in the statement and that this will form the basis of the new Joint Action. Once agreement has been reached, a new Joint Action will have to be drawn up very quickly and I regret that, given that Parliament is going into recess, it is unlikely that there will be enough time for the Committees to clear a text from scrutiny before agreement at Council. With this in mind, I wanted to let you know in advance what might be in train and that, given the need to ensure continuity in the EU's provision of assistance to the Palestinian Authority, I would not propose to hold up agreement on any new Joint Action (likely to be at the 14-15 April GAERC). As soon as a text becomes available, I will of course ensure that it is immediately submitted to the Committees.

31 March 2003


 
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