59. FINANCING THE FIXED COSTS OF THE
SYSTEM OF MANAGING TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE OF THE ACP STATES AND
OCT (COM (1998) 369 FINAL)
Letter from the Rt Hon Clare Short MP,
Secretary of State, Department for International Development,
to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee
I am writing to apologise for an administrative
error that has led to the adoption of a Council Decision before
your Committee had a chance to consider its implications.
The Commission proposal for an EC Decision on
financing the fixed costs of the system of managing technical
assistance of the ACP states and OCT was issued on 15 June 1998
under reference COM (1998) 369 Final. This document has still
to be circulated by the Council Secretariat.
The proposal concerns the appointment of two
private companies (selected on the basis of an international call
for tender funded from the EDF) by the Commission to replace an
organisation called the European Association for Cooperation (EAC)
to manage the provision of EC technical assistants and other experts.
The EC had funded EAC to fulfil this task since 1964 but appointed
the firms following their decision to wind up the EAC by the end
of 1998. The Commission's decision to wind up EAC was previously
reported to the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committees in DFID's explanatory
memorandum of 9 February on the Court of Auditors' special report
on their audit of the European Association for Cooperation (5068/98/ADD
In late June, EUD received a notification from
UKREP that the proposal was to be submitted to COREPER, at which
time my officials mistakenly thought that, given the nature of
the proposal, scrutiny was not required. By the time the error
was realised, it proved impracticable to remove it from the General
Affairs Council Agenda despite UKREP's efforts, and it was agreed
as an A point on 13 July. I very much regret that this action
prevented your Committee from having an opportunity to consider
the proposal before adoption.
Document COM (1998) 369 Final will be formally
deposited as soon as possible and, if you would like an explanatory
memorandum produced on it, my Department will of course complete
one. My officials will be in contact with yours shortly to establish
how you would like to proceed.
2 July 1998