Select Committee on Foreign Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on Bilateral Action Plans for EU Applicant Countries

  In line with our promise to pass on Action Plans to the Foreign Affairs Committee as they are agreed, I have pleasure in enclosing three new bilateral plans for Latvia, Romania, and Bulgaria, and the revised UK-Slovakia Action Plan.

  The aim of these Action Plans is to bring together and enhance the UK's practical support for reform in the applicant states in the run-up to EU accession. Action plans achieve better visibility for our projects and allow for better co-ordination and targeting of our pre-accession assistance.

20 March 2001



  The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, told the Romanian Parliament in May 1999, that Britain wants the European Union to enlarge and that the British Government is committed to the earliest possible accession for Romania.

  As a champion of enlargement, the United Kingdom remains strongly committed to supporting Romania's accession to the European Union and to helping Romania in the associated reform process.

  This Action Plan summarises the broad range of practical support, which the United Kingdom is providing for Romania's efforts to prepare for EU membership. It has been discussed jointly between the two governments, and is being launched on 7 March 2001 during the visit to the UK by the Romanian Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Mirces Geoana. The Plan covers DFID's wide-ranging programmes as well as the activities of the British Council. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has made available an additional £100,000, to support further activities under the Action Plan.

  The United Kingdom regards bilateral co-operation as an important complement to the EU's pre-accession activities in Romania, delivered through various programmes, including the PHARE programme, (to which the United Kingdom contributes 15 per cent), and to the programmes of the World Bank, (to which the United Kingdom is also a significant contributor). The United Kingdom takes part in 10 Twinning projects in the fields of JHA, regional policy, agriculture, industrial policies and financial control.

Trade, Investment and the Single Market

  Commercial exchanges and the value of two-way trade have grown in recent years, keeping pace with the evolution of our bilateral relationship. In 2000 there was a 56 per cent increase in British exports to Romania and a 32 per cent increase in Romanian exports to the United Kingdom.

  As Romania continues its negotiations with EU towards the acquis, co-operation between representatives of the United Kingdom and Romania, in Embassies and Trade Development agencies, will increase, raising awareness of opportunities for trade and investment, and tourism.

  British regional chambers of commerce, trade development agencies and government departments are expected to send Trade Missions to Romania. British companies will attend trade fairs, including ConstructExpo and Technical International Fair (TIB).

  The Confederation of British Industry will host a British Business Day in June; and Trade Partners UK will sponsor a mission to Romania in the Autumn.

  Trade Partners UK, regional chambers and development agencies will work with the Romanian Embassy in London to maximise the effect of Romanian trade missions visiting the UK.

Financial Control

  The United Kingdom, through DFID and the National Audit Office, will help strengthen the institutional capacity of the Romanian Court of Audit and support the adoption and implementation of international standards for external audit. This work will complement an EU Twinning project, which the National Audit Office will head, starting in July. The Controller and National Audit General will visit Romania in April.

  Other assistance in this sector includes the DFID Accountancy and Audit reform project, which aims to improve the performance of commercial and industrial enterprises by establishing an accounting framework, which satisfies international standards.

Justice and Home Affairs

  The United Kingdom and Romania will continue to implement the Memorandum of Understanding on Co-operation to combat Organised Crime and illicit Drug Trafficking, and develop further co-operation in these areas. To that end the British Government has a Drugs Liaison Officer in Bucharest, and the British Drugs "Czar", Mr Keith Hellawell, visited Romania in February. The United Kingdom will provide training assistance in specialised police work, explore the possibility of seconding rummage experts to the Romanian customs, increase the exchange of information, and sponsor Romanian participation in international operational meetings.

  The United Kingdom and Romania will intensify efforts to improve co-operation in combating people-trafficking and illegal immigration.

  The United Kingdom and Romania will sign a Readmission Agreement.

  A British Pre-Accession Adviser heads the UNDCP/EU Phare Twinning Project on Organised Crime and Policing.

  The United Kingdom is funding an adviser in the Ministry of the Interior to advise on issues such as restructuring within the Ministry, strengthening institutions and developing more "joined-up" practices, and the demilitarisation of the Romanian police. The United Kingdom will continue to encourage further co-operation between the Romanian National Police Force and Police Forces in the United Kingdom.

  The United Kingdom will support an awareness campaign organised by a Romanian NGO, to be broadcast on national television, to combat child abuse.

  The British Government, through DFID, is assisting in the development of probation services for juveniles, providing assistance in establishing a probation team in the Ministry of Justice, advising on legislation and training for probation officers, and developing pilot projects, using community-based solutions for petty offenders.

  The United Kingdom is the junior partner in the EU Phare Twinning Project on reform of the Penitentiaries and the Probation Services.

  The United Kingdom will provide assistance through DFID's Central & South Eastern European regional aid funds (£4 million per annum) to address generic problems, for instance, a Roma support initiative.

  The British Council will continue to support English language teaching as well as developing its activities in areas such as good governance and human rights.

  The British Council organised training for judges on the application of the European Convention on Human Rights. The United Kingdom will continue to draw on British expertise to develop the capacity of Romanian NGOs dealing with human rights, in particular minority rights.

  The British Council is currently working with University departments in Romania to develop a textbook on English for law, which will include elements of European Community Law.

  The British Council, in partnership with the Europe Institute, Bucharest, is providing training for legal translators responsible for translating EC legislation into Romanian. The British Council will work with the Association of Romanian Magistrates and the National Institute of Magistrates to develop training capacity for accession-related issues.

Public Administration

  Civil service reform is essential, in particular, the development of a politically neutral civil service. The British Government, through DFID, is assisting in the establishment of the National Agency for Civil Servants, which is responsible for overseeing implementation of the law on civil servants, and introducing new procedures to develop a more professional civil service. DFID is also a key partner with the Romanian Government, the EU and World Bank in formulating a policy on strengthening institutions and the rule of law, focussing on civil service reform, deregulation, judicial and legal reform, and decentralisation.

Social Assistance

  In supporting Romania to address the crisis in its child care institutions, the United Kingdom, through DFID, is supporting the establishment of a National Authority for Child Protection and Adoptions in Romania, to formulate policy and regulate services, and establish effective linkages, (policy and practice), between the centre (including cross-Ministerial) and the counties, and develop community-based support services for vulnerable children and families, as an alternative to the institutionalisation of children. The project aims to establish clear standards on accreditation/licensing of NGOs working in the child protection field, and to reform the adoption system, to comply with the Hague convention.

  The United Kingdom will continue to support the Romania/World Bank Social Development Fund, which addresses poverty at the local level and assists the development of poor communities. DFID will provide international and local expertise, run local workshops and seminars, and organise study visits.

  Complementing existing Romanian, World Bank and EU initiatives, the United Kingdom will assist the Ministry of Labour to reform its social assistance structures, and develop a better understanding of the mechanisms needed for setting up and enforcing minimum standards for social services.

  The United Kingdom will provide technical assistance for Citizen Advice Centres, establishing offices in counties, and satellites in the poorer communities.


  The United Kingdom, through DFID, will assist municipalities, utilities, and other interested parties to prepare environmental projects for ISPA and for other funding. Britain will assist Romanian training centres to provide marketable and sustainable training courses to increase the long-term capacity of relevant stakeholders in project preparation skills.

  The United Kingdom will create Business Environment Associations to increase dialogue between public, private and community sectors, and assist (mainly) SMEs to improve their environmental record and image. The DFID/UNDP Local Agenda 21 project will increase the capacity of local authorities to draw up, implement and evaluate sustainable development strategies and projects, through consensus building with other public, private and civil society partners.

Industrial Restructuring

  The restructuring of the electricity industry in Romania is in transition, and the competitive market is at an early stage of development. Proposed British assistance will provide high level expertise to ANRE, developing an efficient and competitive market for electricity and ensuring smaller consumers are not disadvantaged by on-going initiatives for the development of a competitive market.


  The British Government, through DFID and in collaboration with the World Bank, will work with the Ministry of Health, to help district health authorities assess their needs and match these with locally allocated resources.


  The United Kingdom will continue to promote contemporary Britain and the English language, by providing access to up-to-date information in British Council Centres and libraries throughout Romania, and through the Embassy's public diplomacy strategy.

  The United Kingdom, through DFID, is assisting with the process of decentralisation of financial management of pre-university education. Projects will assist local authorities to establish effective partnerships, to determine policy and spending priorities, and manage their resources and assets effectively.

Agriculture and Regional Development

  The United Kingdom will fund a regional development project, addressing economic growth and reducing social exclusion and poverty in local communities. The rationale for intervention at a regional level is based on the necessity for policy and resources to be planned and integrated, to respond to the needs and opportunities within a particular region and the emphasis of the EU on programmes promoting economic and social cohesion within candidate countries.

  DFID will provide support for strengthening capacity to promote development a the regional and local levels, complementing the World Bank Rural Development Project, which will help rural communities prepare project proposals to be funded by SAPARD and other donors.

  The United Kingdom is involved in 3 Twinning programmes in this sector: Britain has a Pre-Accession Adviser within the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry providing assistance to the Ministry in implementing agricultural and rural development strategies.

Key text below this rule.

  A British Pre-Accession Adviser in the central Regional Development Agency is providing technical assistance aimed at strengthening the institutional capacity of regional and local authorities. There are also British Pre-Accession Advisers in some of the regions, working to improve administrative programming capacity, with a view to accessing EU Pre-Accession Funds, and eventually, Structural Funds.

Foreign and Defence/Security Policy

  There is wide-ranging bilateral co-operation in foreign policy, and in security/defence issues. This is mainly related to Romania's bid for membership of the EU and NATO.

  The United Kingdom is funding an adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to assist Romania throughout its period as Chairman-in-Office of the OSCE.

  The United Kingdom will intensify its dialogue with Romania on a wide range of foreign policy issues of common interest, in the spirit of the EU Common Foreign and Security Policy.

  The United Kingdom will exchange experiences and provide assistance and advice on accession-related matters. The United Kingdom will continue to provide training on diplomacy and negotiating techniques, particularly for EU accession, through scholarships and other courses.

  The United Kingdom will work with the Romanian government to develop further expertise in accession-related areas, through the provision of British expertise and the development of training issues.

  Under the ASSIST programme, the United Kingdom is funding two military advisers in the Romanian Ministry of Defence to assist in the process of restructuring, both within the Ministry and within the Romanian armed forces. There is also a British military adviser seconded to the Regional Training Centre in the Romanian Academy of Higher Military Studies, to assist in training middle-ranking officers.

  The United Kingdom plans to second an English language teaching adviser to the Ministry of National Defence, to develop training for the Ministry's English teachers. The United Kingdom will also provide English language training equipment for the Ministry of Defence.

Other Exchanges

  The Romanian parliament faces the challenge of handling a significant increase in legislation, either directly or indirectly related to the EU. The United Kingdom is keen to share its experience and promote closer inter-parliamentary contacts. The United Kingdom is keen to explore further areas of co-operation with Romania, through bodies such as the Westminster Foundation and BACEE.

  Through the British Chevening Scholarships scheme, the British Government will continue to provide support to enable talented young Romanian professionals and future leaders to further their studies in Britain, particularly in areas relevant to Romania's EU accession.

  The British Council will continue to develop networks of young Romanian professionals and their European colleagues by ensuring Romanian participation in the British Council's programme of European networking events discussing European political, social, economic, educational and cultural issues.

  The British Council will continue to organise periodic seminars and conferences, with the British Embassy, to strengthen these networks and foster debate on European Accession issues within Romania and to strengthen networks of young professionals with an interest and influence in the field.

  The United Kingdom continues to support the further development of a free and independent media in Romania. In particular, the BBC School of Broadcast Journalism, established in 1992 by DFID, BBC World Service Training, the Soros Foundation and the Romanian Academy of Film and Theatre, has provided training for more than 300 young radio and television journalists from both the public and private sectors. The school enjoys a reputation for excellence throughout the Romanian broadcast industry.

Further Action

  This Action Plan provides a basis for on-going British support for Romania's EU accession process. It will be reviewed and updated regularly.


  As a champion of European enlargement, Britain is strongly committed to supporting Latvia's early accession to the European Union (EU). This Action Plan details UK initiatives to help Latvia's progress towards this goal. It has been written in conjunction with the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has made GBP 50,000 available for a range of activities under this Action Plan during 2001-02. Priority sectors include Justice and Home Affairs, Public Administration Reform, Social Integration/Naturalisation, Rural Development (including Agriculture), Environment and Pre-Accession Twinning.

  This Action Plan included the activities of the FCO and the Latvian MFA, the British Department for International Development (DFID), and other British and Latvian Ministries, the British Embassy and the British Council in Riga. It complements the EU's pre-accession assistance to Latvia delivered through the annual PHARE programme (to which Britain contributes 15 per cent), and the programmes of the World Bank in Latvia, to which Britain is also a significant contributor.

Justice and Home Affairs

  The British and Latvian Governments will work to implement the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) On Co-operation in the Fight Against Serious Crime, Organised Crime, Illicit Drug Trafficking, Combating Terrorism and Matters of Like Interest signed in Riga in November 2000, and to develop further co-operation in these areas. This bilateral MOU follows one on Mutual Assistance Between Customs Administration signed in April 1999.

  Further UK support to combat smuggling is envisaged. We are also providiing extensive support to the PHARE "Regional Drug Law Enforcement Project" which commences later in 2001.

  Under its ASSIST programme, the FCO (through the British Council) will deliver English Language Training to the Defence, Justice and Interior Ministries, plus the Police and Customs.

  As a contribution to the campaign against corruption, at the end of 2000 the FCO funded a visit to Riga by a British expert to a seminar on political party financing. The British Embassy will continue to look for opportunities to provide advice on tackling corruption in Latvia more generally, in support of efforts by other donors—especially the EU and the World Bank.

  In the field of justice, the FCO and DFID are supporting a SOROS Foundation programme of "Alternatives to Custody" in Riga and several regional centres, as part of the campaign to address the problem of pre-trial detention. The FCO is also funding advice on a probation system for the Latvian authorities.

  During 1999/2000, the FCO funded an exchange of visits on Juvenile Crime Issues between South Wales Police and the Police in Riga and Daugavpils.

  In 2000, the Oxford-based Centre for Political and Diplomatic Studies (CPDS), with the support of the FCO, ran a course for EU applicant states (based in the UK and Brussels) on "EU Accession: Justice and Home Affairs". Latvian representatives from the Ministries of Interior and Justice took part.

  The planned visit to the UK during 2001 of the Minister of Interior with senior Ministry and Police officials, will help take forward further co-operation in the area of Justice and Home Affairs.

  In the field of drugs:

    —  British Drugs Liaison Officer (DLO)—a British Customs official based in the British Embassy in Warsaw—is available to assist the Latvian authorities with drugs interdiction on a case-by-case basis;

    —  there is the possibility of a visit during 2001 to Riga by the British Government's drug's "Czar", Keith Hellawell;

    —  there have been a number of DFID and FCO projects designed to raise awareness among Latvian young people of the dangers of drugs;

    —  the FCO plan to fund a UNDP project targeted at raising such awareness in Latvian schools.

  There is close co-operation between the two Governments in deterring residents of Latvia from seeking bogus asylum in the United Kingdom.

Public Administration Reform

  There is an acknowledged need for further public administration reform as part of Latvia's process of integration into the EU. The UK has already provided valuable assistance in this area. A new pan-Baltic project, funded by DFID, on Public Administration Reform is scheduled to start in March 2001 to be implemented over the period 2001-04. This will build on the advice from Sir Robin Mountfield (a retired Permanent Secretary from the British Cabinet Office), funded by the EU and DFID, provided to Ministers and senior officials in Latvia during 2000.

  The British Council is assisting the Latvian administration with its work on EU law approximation and harmonisation, specifically in the area of technical translation.

Social Integration/Naturalisation

  Britain is a strong supporter of this process, recognising the advantage for Latvia of comprehensive social integration, including maximising the number of successful naturalisation applicants, in the run up to EU accession. To this end:

    —  the FCO will provide £35,000 to support, with other major donors, the Naturalisation Board's new Public Awareness project;

    —  the British Government has provided £150,000 to support the Government's Latvian Language Training Programme (£100,000 from DFID; £50,000 from the FCO);

    —  in conjunction with the Soros Foundation, the British Council is funding the training of Latvian language teachers so as to improve the teaching of Latvian to those seeking citizenship;

    —  the FCO has supported social integration projects in Latvia's regions under the auspices of the local OSCE Mission. It has also contributed to the funding of the publication of a booklet in Latvian and Russian intended to increase awareness and promote participation in the recently-launched Social Integration Programme;

    —  the FCO has funded a visit to England and Wales by the Head of the Naturalisation Board to look at British policies on ethnic minorities.

  Subject to adequate co-funding by the Latvian Government, the FCO stands ready to support projects under the Social Integration Programme.

Rural Development/Agriculture

  A three-year (2001-04) pan-Baltic "Rural Partnerships" project funded by DFID has been successfully launched in Latvia (based in Latgale). The project has the explicit goal of reducing "poverty and social exclusion in the Baltic States through improved rural and regional development". It is intended to build sustainable capacity in rural businesses and help them and regional authorities access EU and other donor funds. In anticipation of this project, DFID co-sponsored an international conference on Rural Development in Riga in May 2000.

  In early 2001, the Oxford-based CPDS ran a course for EU applicant states, funded by the FCO, on "EU Accession: Agriculture". Two representatives from the Latvian Ministry of Agriculture attended (including the Minister's Policy Adviser).

  The British and Latvian Agriculture Ministries signed an MOU in 1999. This provides a sound basis for mutual co-operation.

  Under a Swedish/British EU Twinning Project on Fisheries, a UK expert (Pre-Accession Adviser) will be based in Riga from 2001.


  A three-year (2000-03) pan-Baltic project "Strengthening Capacity and Environment Project Development", funded by DFID, was successfully launched in Latvia. The project is designed to improve the ability of rural and regional authorities to develop environmental projects for funding by the EU and other donors.

  In 2000, the Oxford-based CPDS ran a course for EU applicant states "EU Accession: Environment", funded by the FCO. A representative from the Latvian Ministry of Environment and Regional Development took part.

  In the field of forestry, the FCO has funded:

    —  a forest training project run by Scottish Woodlands for Latvian State Forests;

    —  a seminar on Applied Forestry Landscape Ecology run by Britain's Forestry Commission;

    —  further British/Latvian co-operation, to include sustainable development and certification, is envisaged under an MOU which is currently under discussion between the Forestry Commission and Latvian State Forests.

Institutional Twinning

  As noted in other sections of this Action Plan, Britain is already active in the EU's Twinning Programme in Latvia and keen to do more. To date, Britain has supported Germany on a project in the Financial sector. It will shortly undertake its own projects in the Fisheries (jointly with the Swedes) and Public Expenditure sectors (the latter with an element of Public Administration Reform).

Social Security Reform

  Following from the November 1999 visit to Riga by Angela Eagle, the British Minister of Social Security, there is an on-going programme of co-operation with the Latvian authorities:

    —  Senior Latvian officials visited the UK twice during 2000 to familiarise themselves with British experience in implementing social security and welfare aspects of the EU acquis. Officials from the British Departments of Social Security and Employment visited Riga during 2000 to explain to their Latvian counterparts the UK initiative on "Welfare to Work". Further co-operation could include the health sector;

    —  The Latvian Minister for Welfare, Mr Pozarnovs, visited the UK during 2000 for English language training and to look at the administration of the National Health Service.


  Between 1999 and 2001, British Customs provided expertise to the Latvian authorities under a German-managed EU Twinning Project on "Internal Market Capacity Building and Enforcement".

  The UK will lead a new EU Twinning Project on "Public Expenditure Management" in Latvia, beginning in 2001.

  On the basis of a long-standing MOU, there is regular co-operation between the London and Riga Stock Exchanges.

  In July 2000 the Lord Mayor of London visited Riga to promote the services of the City of London and to stimulate further British/Latvian co-operation in this area.

  Public Private Partnership (PPP). Both sides will work to facilitate the establishment of a PPP mechanism in Latvia, and encourage British companies to engage in pilot PPP projects in Latvia.

Inter-Parliamentary Contacts

  Inter-Parliamentary contacts are flourishing. Both Governments stand ready to help and facilitate where appropriate. There have been a number of exchange visits, including at the highest level:

    —  in March 1999, Mr Janis Straume, the Chairman of the Saeima, visited the UK. This visit was reciprocated in October 2000 when Ms Betty Boothroyd, Speaker of the House of Commons, visited Latvia. In 1999 the Clerk to the House of Commons visited Riga;

    —  to Latvia in June 2000 and January 2001 by the House of Commons' Trade and Industry and Foreign Affairs Committees respectively

    —  by senior Saeima and House of Commons officials, funded by the FCO, focusing on protocol, administration and IT.

Trade and Investment: Development and Promotion

  Working as part of the Trade Partners UK trade development team, and in close collaboration with the British Chamber of Commerce in Latvia, the Commercial Section of the British Embassy will continue to seek opportunities in the Latvian market for British companies, including opportunities for investment in collaboration with the Latvian Development Agency. British Trade International will support British trade missions and the presence of British companies at Latvian trade fairs and exhibitions to this end.

  The British Council has been working actively in fostering links in the creative industries; and Latvia will host an inward trade mission from Britain in this sector during 2001.

  The British Embassy is currently, in collaboration with the British Council, preparing for a British Week to be held in Latvia on 18-25 May 2001, including a Commercial exhibition and associated seminars.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 10 April 2001