Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Annex 3



  Since the restoration of Estonia's independence in 1991, the United Kingdom has been a firm supporter of Estonia's development as a successful, free market orientated liberal democracy. Since the launch of the EU accession negotiations during the British presidency in 1998, the UK has been actively supporting Estonia in its efforts to achieve early accession to the European Union. The United Kingdom is determined to maintain this support to help ensure that Estonia's remarkable progress is sustained. In this spirit the British and Estonian Governments have endorsed the following EU Accession Action Plan.

  The Action plan has been drawn up in conjunction with the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It includes the activities of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development (DfID) in London, other British ministries, the British Embassy in Tallinn and the British Council. It complements support provided through EC channels. The UK, through DfID provides 15 per cent of the EU PHARE budget managed by the European Commission.


  The British Government is supporting the Estonian government in its continuing reform of the public administration to increase its capacity to adopt the acquis communautaire in full and take on the obligations of EU membership. Areas include:

    —  Help in building the capacity of the Estonian Legal Translation Centre which is responsible for translating the large volume of EU related documents into Estonian and English. This includes providing training courses for translators and the establishment of a glossary of terms for translators available over the Internet.

    —  The British Government will support the development and delivery of a training programme to support the development of Estonian Public Administration. The first seminar on "Development and implementation of service standards for the Estonian civil service" is being held in October under the auspices of the Estonian Institute of Public Administration to look at setting standards in Ministries and agencies and developing the concept of citizen's charters. The seminar is run by the UK's Civil Service College.

    —  To support the British-Estonian Public Administration Support Programme (GEPASP) managed by the Estonian Institute of Public Administration. The programme includes a training programme for Estonian top and senior level civil servants, for key people in Estonian Public Administration Reform process and the training of trainers.

    —  This financial year, the DfID has launched two programmes focusing on strengthening capacity in environmental project development and a rural development project to address problems of rural poverty and social exclusion.

    —  A continuing programme of assistance to the State Audit Office who co-operate with Britain's National Audit Office.

    —  UK high level participation in the Estonian conference on"Effectiveness and Quality in public Administration" in September.

    —  The DfID will explore ways of increasing co-operation with the Public Administration Bureau with the aim of launching a comprehensive programme of assistance with Public Administrative Reform later this year.


  The British and Estonian Governments will work to sign and implement their Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation in Combating Illicit Drug Trafficking, Organised crime and Illegal Immigration early next year. This will lead to the development of further co-operation in these areas.

  The British Government will further support co-operation between the legal professions of Britain and Estonia, following the successful visit by Lord Slynn of Hadley. This will include a seminar on human rights for judges and other projects designed to improve Estonia's judiciary.

  Other projects include:

    —  UK advice, assistance and training packages to the Customs and Rescue Boards, including training in surveillance techniques and disaster management courses at Cranfield University.

    —  British Government support to Crime Prevention and Community Safety project run by the Baltic Crime Prevention Institute and the University of the West of England. The project offers UK designed distance learning training packages to Estonian policemen, probation, community and social workers.

    —  British Government advice and assistance on the establishment of an effective and efficient probation system.

    —  The Centre for Political and Diplomatic Studies (CPDS) held a successful course on "Justice and Home Affairs" between 16-29 July as part of their Programme of Diplomatic Studies 2000. The course provided a programme of study visits and discussions in Brussels and London for two representatives from each EU candidate country, including Estonia. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office funded the course.


  The British Government is providing support to Estonia in reforming its financial sector with the aim of meeting the requirements of EU accession and establishing Tallinn as a regional financial centre. Projects include:

    —  Visit by the Lord Mayor of London to establish closer ties between financial institutions in London and Tallinn.

    —  Frequent trade missions from the UK in the financial services sector.

    —  London based financial institutions, British and others, frequently provide considerable advice and financial support to Estonia in areas such as privatisation, public-private partnerships, and infrastructure development.


  The United Kingdom is supporting a project with Tartu University to establish a British Lectureship in Media Studies for Russian Speaking Students. The aim is to raise the quality of Russian language journalism in Estonia. Support for the project will last for three years and thereafter, be supported by the Estonian Government. The British Embassy and British Council in Tallinn are working together to identify a suitable UK lecturer to participate in the project and establish working links between Tartu and a British University.

  The UK supports Estonia's successful media industry. The British Embassy in Tallinn will continue to identify Estonian journalists to send on sponsored visits to the UK and Brussels. Five journalists have visited the UK so far this year, looking at issues ranging from reform of the EU to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

   The UK has supported the production of two Estonian TV programmes featuring life in Britain, with particular emphasis on the UK experience of integration of ethnic minorities.


  The Centre for Political and Diplomatic Studies (CPDS) held a course on the Environment in October 2000 as part of their Programme of Diplomatic Studies 2000. The course offers a programme of study visits and discussions in various locations around England and Wales for one representative from each EU candidate country, including Estonia. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is funding the course.


  One of the most important challenges facing Estonia is the integration of non-Estonian minorities. The UK Government will continue working with the Estonian Government to ensure progress in this area and to provide assistance to the State Integration Programme for 2000-07.

    —  United Kingdom joined the Nordic/UNDP project "Support to the State Integration Programme" in March 2000. The Department for International Development (DfID) has contributed £100,000 to the Nordic/UK/UNDP project to support the implementation of the State Integration Programme. The UK contribution helps to increase the implementation capacity in three specific areas of the project:

      —  exchange of model and programme for Russian-medium and Estonian-medium vocational schools;

      —  language camps for Russian-speaking children, including children from problem backgrounds;

      —  studies in labour force mobility for residents of the North East of Estonia.

  The project "Support to the State Integration Programme" will continue until July 2001.

    —  The UK has supported the seminars on the protection of minority rights with particular emphasis on multicultural education (International conference "What is Multiculturalism?", Parnu, 1995; "Multicultural Baltic", Tallinn, 1995; Phare democracy seminar "Education in multicultural society", Tartu, 1996 etc). The British Government sends politicians, journalists, officials and specialists on education to the UK to study the UK experience of education and integration of ethnic minorities. Eight politicians, journalists and officials involved in the integration process participated in a week-long seminar in the UK entitled "The Protection of Minority Rights in Britain".

  The UK supports a number of small multi-donor programmes and projects to promote the integration process in Estonia in the areas of the Estonian language training;

    —  in Russian-medium primary education institutions, family exchange and language camps;

    —  exchange of teachers of Estonian- and Russian-medium schools;

    —  media education (media for schools—eg the newspaper "YOU" in Estonian, Russian and English, supported by the British Embassy);

    —  youth activities, citizenship awareness campaign, national and ethnic minorities projects (cultural events, conferences and seminars, exhibitions, Sunday schools).


  When Estonia becomes a member of the EU it will be required to take on the full obligations of membership. The UK therefore maintains a close dialogue with Estonia about the current and future development of the EU's Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). The UK does this by sharing as much information as possible with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs via e-mail and during regular working meetings. Official visitors from the UK are encouraged to talk about the EU aspects of their role.

    —  The British Embassy have also arranged a number of visits for MFA officials in 1999: Director General of the European Union Division, Ms Katrin Saarsalu (study visit), the Spokesman of the MFA, Mr Taavi Toom (study visit).

    —  During 2000 there were visits by the Political Director, Mr Vaino Reinart and the Head of Policy Planning at the MFA, Mrs Kaja Tael to the UK.

Ministerial Contacts

  1999 was a record year for Ministerial contact between the UK and Estonia. Six UK Ministers visited Tallinn including the Foreign and Defence Secretaries, and sector specific visits were made by the Ministers for Trade, Transport and Social Security. Almost half of the new Estonian cabinet visited the UK in 1999.

  President Meri visited the UK in March 2000. During his stay he had meetings with HRH The Prince of Wales; the Foreign Secretary, Mr Robin Cook; the Chief of Defence Staff, General Sir Charles Guthrie and Home Office Minister, Mr Charles Clark.

  The Embassy arranged study visits to the UK for the Minister of Interior and the Minister for Ethnic Affairs this year. The Minister of Justice also had a short programme in London.

  FCO Political Director, Emyr Jones-Parry visited Estonia in August.

  In September there was also a visit by Prime Minister Tony Blair's political adviser on EU enlargement, Roger Liddle.

  Department for Culture, Media and Sports Minister, Alan Howarth visited Estonia between 9-11 October.

  On October 25-26 the Foreign Minister Toomas Hendrik Ilves visited the UK and had meetings with the Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, Minister of State for the Armed Forces, John Spellar and the Head of Foreign Affairs Committee, Donald Anderson.


  The delegation from the Estonian Ministry of Economic Affairs visited the United Kingdom last year and set up the contacts with its partner institution, the Department of Trade and Industry. As the Ministry of Economic Affairs is responsible for the EU negotiation chapters as free movement of goods and services, consumer protection, energy, industrial policy, SMEs, the fruitful know-how transfer and co-operation between two countries and Ministries is important and should continue in the future.

  Projects are expected to include:

    —  short-term expert assistance in the oil-shale restructuring questions;

    —  strengthening the capacity of Energy Market Inspectorate;

    —  British know-how and experience transfer to Estonian Consumer Protection Board;

    —  increase the dialogue with the Ministry of Economic Affairs on market surveillance questions;

    —  pre-audit for the Estonian Accreditation Centre;

    —  co-operation in the standardisation area—transposition of CENELEC standards.


  Estonia has undergone rapid transformation politically, economically and socially since independence. Its reform process has been extremely successful. The UK is keen to support Estonia in sharing this positive experience and expertise with third countries external to the accession process. This develops Estonia's foreign assistance programme and regional role, which the EU is keen for Estonia to advance. This process is called trilateral co-operation and some examples of projects are listed below:

    —  UK participation and support for a conference in Tallinn on administrative law with representatives from Ukraine, Armenia and Moldova.

    —  Support for trilateral defence related seminar between the UK, Estonia and Georgia in November 2000.

    —  Support for Ukrainian participation at a Conference of Privatisation in Tallinn.

    —  Support for a Seminar in Tallinn on Veterinary and Food Certification Standards with representatives of Ukraine, Estonia and the UK.

    —  UK support for a study tour from the Armenian civil service to look at Estonian public administration reform.

    —  Support for Ukrainian participation at a Conference in Tallinn on the future of the European Union.

    —  UK support for Uzbek, Georgian, Kazakh, Kyrgyz and Tajik participation in a Health Sector development conference in Tartu.

    —  Support for a seminar in Tallinn on Monetary Reform with representatives from the Ukraine, Estonia and the UK.


  The UK is taking an active part in this EU programme, which aims to build the capacity of the public administration in applicant countries.

  The British Government will:

    —  Increase dialogue with Estonian on the reform of the oil shale sector in the North East with the possibility of formal twinning in a later round.

    —  Increase dialogue with the Ministry of Economy on market surveillance and consumer protection with the possibility of formal twinning in a later round.


  The UK is keen to promote informal contacts between government officials to provide advice and expertise on EU related subjects. This can be done via e-mail, phone and fax after initial contact is made. This process is currently used by the Estonian Ministry of Agriculture and MAFF; the Ministry of Economy and the DTI and the Ministry of Transport and the DfEE. It has led to study visits to the UK by Estonian officials from these three ministries. The Embassy is keen to support study visits to the UK from the Ministry of Social Affairs following the Minister Angela Eagle's successful visit.

  Other events:

    —  Study visit for six senior officials from the Ministry of Interior to the UK in April.

    —  Contacts are being set up between state aid units of the Estonian Ministry of Finance and DTI.


  Assistance is provided through the Department for International Development's Small Grants Scheme (SGS) which is administered by the Embassy locally. The SGS finances small-scale projects which also focus on HMG's other priority areas, such as integration of the Russian-speaking minority, EU accession and social exclusion.

  Support for a visit by the British European Movement to Estonia to establish links and hold a seminar with the newly formed Estonian European Movement.

  The British Embassy recently provided financial support to Tartu University's Eurofaculty for library equipment.


  The Estonian Parliament faces the challenge of handling a significant increase in legislation either directly or indirectly related to the EU. The UK is keen to share its experience with Estonia and develop closer links between parliamentarians.

    —  Visit by the European Scrutiny Committee to Estonia in May 1999.

    —  Visit by the Foreign Affairs Committee to Estonia in July 1999.

    —  Viit by the Estonian-British Parliamentary Group to London in November 1999.

    —  Visit by Estonian IPU delegation to UK in January 2000.

    —  Lecture tour by Lord William Wallace on "The future shape of Europe" in May 2000.

    —  Visit by the Trade and Industry Select Committee in June 2000.

    —  Visit by the Speaker of the House of Commons in October 2000.

    —  Visit by the Foreign Affairs Committee of Riigikogu to the UK in November 2000.

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