5. PARTICIPATION BY THE CEEC APPLICANTS
IN CULTURE 2000
(22247 - 22256)
7072/01 - 7081/01
Draft Council Decision on the Community position within the Association Council on the participation in the Culture 2000 programme of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and the Republics of Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
|Legal base:||Article 151 EU; consultation; unanimity
|Department:||Culture, Media and Sport
|Basis of consideration:||Minister's letter of 7 June 2002
|Previous Committee Report:||HC 28-xii (2000-01), paragraph 8 (25 April 2001); HC 152-x (2001-02), paragraph 9 (12 December 2001) and HC 152-xxiv (2001-02), paragraph 9 (17 April 2002)
|Discussed in Council:||Adopted on different dates between 29 June 2001 and 25 January 2002
|Committee's assessment:||Politically important
|Committee's decision:||Cleared (decision reported on 25 April 2001), but further information requested
5.1 The Culture 2000 programme was adopted on 14 February
2000. The current
proposal establishes the budget so that the ten candidate countries
of Central and Eastern Europe (CEECs) can begin to participate
by becoming integrated in Community networks and other activities
related to culture. It will also allow them to attend meetings
of the Management Committee as observers when points which concern
them are on the agenda.
5.2 We cleared the proposals on 25 April 2001, but asked
the Minister to seek a statement from the Commission on the prospects
for the inclusion of Cyprus and Malta in the Culture 2000 programme.
Both are applicant countries with an important cultural heritage
to protect. We suggested that early participation would be of
benefit to both and asked what considerations were delaying their
5.3 On 28 November 2001, we received a reply dated 11
May 2001 from the then Secretary of State for Culture, Media and
Sport (Mr Chris Smith). He said that the EU Association Agreements
with Cyprus and Malta did not have the appropriate cultural clauses
on which to base participation in Culture 2000. The Commission
was working to bring forward the special protocols required in
order to achieve this. His officials would continue to monitor
the situation and to press the Commission to complete the task.
The proposals, when submitted, would come to the Committees in
the usual way.
5.4 When we considered this reply on 12 December, we
asked the Minister to reply by 9 January with an update. On 9
April, the Minister of State for the Arts at the Department for
Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone) said that her officials
had pursued the Commission assiduously, but progress had been
frustratingly slow and the formalities allowing both countries
to participate in the programme had not been completed. This delay,
she said, was unfortunately all too redolent of the Commission's
handling of the programme as a whole. She said that the Government
would continue to pursue the matter, and would let us know as
soon as it had a clear answer.
5.5 We regretted that the Minister's officials had to
be pressed to provide us with a reply and asked that in future
the Department should take responsibility for ensuring that our
requests are not lost sight of. We noted that the Minister was
not content with the Commission's performance in handling this
programme and we asked her whether the Government had taken any
steps to make its views known to the Commissioner responsible,
or to senior officials in the Directorate General.
The Minister's letter
5.6 The Minister starts by saying that she has instructed
her officials to ensure that the Committee is kept informed of
progress in future. She then says:
"I can also confirm that the Government has consistently
made its views on the shortcomings of the Culture 2000 programme
clear to the Commissioner and her officials. I have discussed
this with Viviane Reding, and our representatives on the programme's
management committee have pursued the subject vigorously with
Director General Van der Pas and his team. We are not alone in
our criticisms of the management of the programme. Most of the
other EU Member States and other participating countries share
our view. Rather than simply excoriate the Commission, however,
my officials have worked diligently within the framework of the
Management Committee with the Commission and others to address
the problems. The UK is perceived as a constructive critic of
the programme, and the overall situation has improved significantly,
although it has taken two years to get this far and there is still
much that remains to be done.
"In this context, the question of Cyprus and Malta's participation
in the programme is a fairly marginal one. Given their size, and
using Luxembourg as an indicator, it would seem likely that cultural
organisations from those countries are only likely to be involved
in a handful of projects supported by the Culture 2000 programme.
Nonetheless, I can now confirm that both countries will be eligible
to participate in the programme from 2003. A call for applications
for the 2003 programme is due to appear in the Official Journal
within the next few weeks, and organisations from Cyprus and Malta
will be listed among those eligible to apply".
5.7 It has certainly been a struggle to extract information
from the Commission and the Government on participation by Cyprus
and Malta in this programme. Their participation may be marginal
in terms of the programme as a whole, but this does not justify
treating small applicant states in such a dilatory fashion.
5.8 We cleared the documents in April last year. We
now await submission of the proposals for Cyprus and Malta.
3638/99; see HC 23-vii (1999-2000), paragraph 8 (2 February 2000). Back