BRITAIN AND POLAND IN EUROPE: A UK ACTION
This Action Plan details UK initiatives to help
Poland's progress towards membership of the European Union. It
includes the activities of British Ministries, the British Embassy
in Warsaw, the British Council and the Know-How Fund. This bilateral
assistance complements aid being channelled through the EU.
The UK has launched a new two-year programme
on developing local government in Poland. It includes a conference
on 19 and 20 November involving key figures from the 16 new voivodships;
practical workshops on topics such as finance; a series of local
government roadshows involving UK officials and experts visiting
selected provinces; and a special edition of the British Embassy
magazine giving details of useful contacts in the UK. The programme
will draw on existing work being done by DfID (the Department
for International Development) to strengthen local government
in Poland. It responds to requests received from local government
officials for greater assistance. It will be managed by the British
Embassy, drawing on input from the UK.
The UK plans to produce an E-mail directory
of addresses in UK government departments to enable Polish officials
to maintain direct contact with their UK counterparts. This will
be a "one-stop-shop" service for dealing with issues
connected with Poland's EU accession. Officials in several Polish
ministries already have direct e-mail contact with the UK opposite
numbers. The new directory will complement them with a series
of permanent e-mail addresses.
The UK is taking an active part in this EU programme,
which involves secondment of officials from Member States to help
prepare Candidate Countries for EU accession. We are pleased to
be working on four key twinning projects from the 1998 round in
the fields of Structural Funds, Environment, Justice and Home
Affairs and Industrial Restructuring. The UK-led project to help
Poland prepare for the receipt of structural funds is the largest
twinning project so far, involving input from six Member States
and a budget of 7 million euro. We have submitted nine proposals
for projects in Poland in the 1999 round, in key sectors such
as Human Resources, Customs, Finance, Justice and Home Affairs,
Agriculture, Health and Safety, Transport and Telecommunications.
The UK is supporting Polish efforts to meet
the EU environmental acquis. A Polish official is currently
on a five-month secondment to the Department of Environment, Transport
and the Regions. A British expert is advising the National Fund
for Environmental Protection on their preparations to receive
EU ISPA (transport and environment) funds. We are participating
in projects to reduce pollution produced by small businesses and
to improve the management of protected areas. We are working with
France on a twinning project providing advice to the Ministry
of Environment on waste management. A project to improve energy
efficiency in the housing sector is also being developed.
The UK is leading a key twinning project in
this area, which aims to improve control of the Eastern border
and Poland's capacity to fight organised crime. A Home Office
official is being seconded to Warsaw, as a Pre-Accession Adviser,
to co-ordinate the project and to advise on the implementation
of the EU's JHA acquis.
Following a meeting between Lord Simon and Deputy
Prime Minister Balcerowicz, we have been working with the Polish
Government to develop a competitiveness strategy. Two DTI officials
visited in September to share the British experience of developing
and financing small firms with their Polish counterparts. We stand
ready to offer further co-operation.
We have developed a project in Wroclaw to stimulate
the development of farmers' groups to produce the products needed
by retail outlets DfID are finalising a Rural Development project
which will help local governments create development strategies,
apply for external funds and implement development projects. A
Farmers Association Projectwhich aims to improve the effectiveness
of farmer representation in local governmentis under preparation.
The UK/Poland Agricultural Working Group has
maintained a dialogue between Ministries since 1994. As Poland
moves closer to membership of the EU, this dialogue is moving
to a new, more detailed and practical level.
During his visit to Warsaw on 29 June the Minister
for Employment, Andrew Smith, and his Polish opposite number signed
a joint statement on future bilateral co-operation including assistance
in the development of the Polish National Employment Strategy
with the European Social Fund. DfID and the Embassy's Small Grants
Scheme are currently implementing several projects on reskilling
and confidence building for redundant workers. The Polish British
Enterprise Project, a joint initiative of the British and Polish
Governments, supports job creation in the SME sector in Eastern
The UK is involved with Poland, France, Germany
and Denmark on a joint project on tobacco policy. The Department
of Health will shortly send an official to Poland to discuss further
action. This will include bringing Polish legislation on tobacco-related
issues in line with EU legislation.
The UK/Poland Power Sector Working Group has
made considerable progress in recent years. Each year the British
Embassy in Warsaw, working with the Department of Trade and Industry,
holds an energy seminar in Warsaw.
DfID will shortly begin a UK project to mitigate
the adverse social effects of industrial restructuring in the
coal and steel sectors on Silesian communities. We are also working
with Spain on a twinning project to provide advice and practical
help on retraining and small firm development.
Well-trained negotiators are crucial to Poland's
EU accession. The UK's EU Integration project has made considerable
progress in providing training in the necessary skills. Some of
its activities will now be transferred to the EU PHARE programme.
The UK continues to contribute bilaterally by
providing EU training to the new generation of Polish diplomats,
which included this year a visit to Brussels in July. We will
continue to fund an accession adviser (Alan Mayhew, formerly a
senior Commission official) to provide accession advice to Poland,
as well as organise secondments of Polish officials to the UK
to acquire experience in EU negotiating methods.
The UK continues to support the Joseph Conrad
Scholarship Scheme, which enables Polish students to study for
a Master's degree, diploma or PhD in the UK. Sixteen students
are being supported wholly by the scheme this year, and at least
10 more part-funded. We expect to be able to support even more
students next year. This year 10 students participated for the
first time in a three-month specialised Diploma course on European
Integration at the University of Sussex. This was a success and
will be repeated next year.
The UK has much experience in handling legislation
directly or indirectly related to the EU, which we are sharing
with Polish parliamentarians. Recent examples include:
Members of the Polish Parliamentary
EU integration sub-committee will visit the UK soon, meet their
counterparts and exchange experience on the role parliaments in
EU members states and in the accession process for candidates.
Members of the Polish Parliamentary
Internal Affairs Committee will visit the UK in October to look
at electoral reform.
Ministerial contact between the UK and Poland
is being stepped up. In September alone, the Deputy Prime Minister,
the Minister for Trade, the Minister of State in the Home Office
and the Minister (Armed Forces) visited Poland. We will maintain
the momentum generated by these visits and the frequency of contact
as Poland moves towards membership of the EU.
Central and North West Europe Department