Documents considered by the Committee on 8th December 2010 - European Scrutiny Committee Contents

7 EU External Action: the Instrument for Stability



COM(10) 512

+ ADD 1

Commission Report: Annual Report on the Instrument for Stability in 2009

Legal base
Document originated28 September 2010
Deposited in Parliament9 November 2010
DepartmentForeign and Commonwealth Office
Basis of considerationEM of 22 November 2010
Previous Committee ReportNone; but see (30859) 12674/10: HC 19-xxvi (2008-09), chapter 18 (10 September 2009); also see (29656) —: HC 16-xxiv (2007-08), chapter 11(18 June 2008) and (27653-55)—: HC 34-xxxv (2005-06), chapter 11 (12 July 2006)
To be discussed in CouncilTo be determined
Committee's assessmentPolitically important
Committee's decisionNot cleared; further information requested


7.1 Towards the end of the previous Financial Perspective, the Commission and Council decided to replace the then plethora of financial instruments for the delivery of external assistance with a simpler, more efficient framework. Instead of the wide range of geographical and thematic instruments that had grown up in an ad hoc manner over time, the new framework comprises six instruments only, four of them new. The four new instruments are:

—  an Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance;

—  a European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument;

—  a Development Cooperation and Economic Cooperation Instrument; and

—  an Instrument for Stability.

7.2 The first three all essentially repackage existing EC activity. The Instrument for Stability, however, is a new instrument to tackle crises and instability in third countries and address trans-border challenges including nuclear safety and non-proliferation, the fight against trafficking, organised crime and terrorism. [40]

7.3 The previous Committee cleared the draft IfS Regulation on 12 July 2006.[41] At that time, they noted that the then Minister for Europe (Mr Geoffrey Hoon) confirmed that an original concern — how in practice it would be prevented from encroaching on Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) activities and objectives — had been overcome: the later stages of negotiation were difficult precisely because of the need to maintain a clear distinction with CFSP activities; but having worked hard to ensure that activities covered by the Regulation were limited to those falling within the scope of the Community's powers relating to development co-operation and economic co-operation, he was satisfied that the agreed text met concerns in these areas. He said that the Stability Instrument would cater for many of the kinds of activities the existing Rapid Reaction Mechanism was intended to cover as well as other existing Community activities in relation to, for example, combating anti-personnel landmines, reestablishment of civilian administration in Congo and Afghanistan, planning economic reconstruction in Iraq and supporting post-tsunami reconstruction around the Indian Ocean — all of which, he said, were of critical importance to the then Government's objectives. The Commission would be required to submit all projects for the opinion of the Stability Instrument Management Committee, composed of representatives of all Member States — something on which he said that he had insisted, in order to exercise proper political control.

7.4 The Instrument for Stability was allocated €2.1 billion between 2007 and 2013. The UK's share of the allocation was 17%, i.e. €350.5 million.

7.5 An Annual report must be submitted to the European Parliament and the Council in compliance with Article 23 of Regulation (EC) No. 1717/2006 of the European Parliament and the Council of 15 November 2006 establishing an Instrument for Stability (the IfS Regulation).

7.6 The previous Committee's consideration of the 2008 Report noted that, on the key issue of evaluation, the then Minister for Europe said:

    "With a project length of between 12 and 18 months, some 2008 short term crisis response measures are still being implemented. The Commission has provided a progress report on all 2007 and 2008 measures in the Annex to the Annual Report. The Commission intends to conduct a full evaluation of 2007 and 2008 short term measures in 2009/10, in which the UK is participating. The long term crisis preparedness measures are harder to evaluate at this stage as some 2007 projects have only started to be implemented in 2009."

7.7 The previous Committee also thought that the good start that they noted a year earlier appeared to have been consolidated, but that the acid test would be the mid-term review in 2010.

7.8 Though their report raised no concerns at this juncture, they considered that it warranted a Report to the House because of the magnitude of expenditure, the nature of the issues that the IfS is designed to tackle and the inter-relationship with the Council's ESDP activities.

7.9 They also cleared the document.[42]

The 2009 Annual Report

7.10 Work undertaken by the IfS is split into two policy components:

—  Article 3 (77% of total funding) deals with short term projects designed to provide assistance to help countries respond to crisis or emerging crisis.

—  Article 4 (19% of total funding) covers longer-term measures to address crisis preparedness and trans-regional security threats.

The remaining funds (4%) are used to cover administrative costs.

7.11 The 2009 Annual Report outlines the progress of the short term IfS measures launched in that year and provides an update on the financial commitments of the long-term projects.

7.12 In 2009, the short term component of the IfS was engaged in a broad range of thematic issues concerning peace-building and stability. Examples include:

—  support to UN and regional organisations-led peace-keeping missions and peace-building activities (Chad, Darfur, Somalia);

—  support for fragile electoral processes (Bolivia, Pakistan, Republic of Moldova);

—  post-conflict and post-disaster recovery programmes (Haiti, Gaza Strip, Peru, Bangladesh);

—  supporting conflict resolution and reconciliation activities (Georgia, occupied Palestinian territory, Sri Lanka); and

—  aiding or supporting measures in countries where CSDP missions are deployed (Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Georgia, Kosovo).

7.13 The majority of IfS measures launched in 2009 took place in Africa (25%) and Asia (20%), but IfS support has also been provided in the Middle East (18%), Western Balkans (15%) and South Caucasus (11%).

7.14 The Multi-Annual Indicative Action Plan, which sets out the long term IfS priorities for 2009 to 2011, was adopted in April 2009 and foresaw €225 million to be used to support three priority areas:

—  supporting global trans-regional efforts tackling organised crime, trafficking, the protection of critical infrastructure, threats to public health and the fight against terrorism (Article 4.1);

—  supporting action in the area of mitigation and preparedness relating to chemical, nuclear and biological materials or agents (Article 4.2); and

—  capacity building measures aimed at strengthening the abilities of international organisations and non-state actors to respond to and prevent crisis (Article 4.3).

The Government's view

7.15 In his Explanatory Memorandum of 22 November 2010, the Minister for Europe (Mr David Lidington) says that the IfS:

—  enables the EU to respond quickly to crisis and instability overseas when timely financial help cannot be provided by other EU sources;

—  complements wider EU engagement in line with CSDP interventions and longer term goals; and

—  focuses its projects on a range of key issues, such as supporting mediation, confidence building and strengthening the rule of law in EU partner countries.

7.16 He continues as follows:

    "IfS activities launched in 2009 under the short term component complement UK priorities in countries such as Afghanistan where the IfS helps the Afghan Government draw up reform programmes for key justice institutions. This covers important issues such as recruitment, personnel systems, pay and the establishment of a new legal aid system. These measures are designed to help improve the rule of law and stability in a country which is a key foreign and security policy priority for the UK.

    "Under its short term component, the IfS has also funded a number of projects in Pakistan which support UK priorities to prevent and resolve conflict and counter the terrorist threat, for example:
  • "2008/2009: Electoral reform (€2.4m): The IfS provides support for electoral reform in order to make a substantial contribution to peace and stability in Pakistan through an improved elections processes.
  • "2009: Support to law enforcement and de-radicalisation (€15m): This work supports capacity building measures for law enforcement in Pakistan. IfS measures include strengthening law enforcement agencies such as the National Counter-Terrorism Authority as well as supporting police forces in the North-West Frontier Province and Punjab Province. These programmes are intended to improve the Pakistani authorities' ability to maintain the rule of law and combat terrorism.

      "Under the long term component, the IfS has identified 'Support for prevention of and fight against terrorism' as a priority, and allocated €14m for 2009-11. This programme will be focussed on the Sahel, Afghanistan and Pakistan regions. It will be complementary to ongoing bilateral and regional programmes and aims to improve the law enforcement and counter terrorism capabilities of the countries within the regions. The UK Government supports these measures as they complement UK objectives for the region.

      "The IfS also complements the work of the EU's CSDP missions. Examples from 2009 where cooperation between IfS and CSDP interventions worked well include the ongoing work in the Middle East where IfS funding assists EUPOL COPPS (the EU's Police Mission to the Palestinian Territories). The IfS funds equipment for Palestinian Police officers in an effort to improve security conditions and also assists the EU's Naval Operation tacking piracy in Somalia (Operation ATALANTA) by way of supporting the trials and detention of piracy suspects."

    7.17 The Minister then refers to the Council Decision establishing the European External Action Service (EEAS), which includes the future arrangements for the management of the IfS and other Community Instruments:

      "Precisely how these arrangements will operate in practice will become clearer once the EEAS is fully up and running. The Government is content with the principles set out in the decision including the division of roles between the EEAS and the Commission. The European Parliament tried without success to reopen some of these principles during negotiations on the EEAS budget and the amending of staff and financial regulations. On 27 October the Commission announced it was creating a new "Foreign Policy Instruments Service" which will be under the political authority of Baroness Ashton in her role as Commission Vice-President."

    7.18 The Minister then notes that there are no direct financial implications to the UK from the Annual Report, as it does not propose to increase or reduce the total IfS budget and is intended solely as a means of updating Member States on IfS actions undertaken in 2009.


    7.19 We are reporting this information to the House for the same reasons as did our predecessors.

    7.20 The activities funded by the IfS would appear to be entirely appropriate. However, as the previous Committee noted, effectiveness is key. We would therefore like to know what the state of play is on the Commission's evaluation of the Instrument's effectiveness thus far.

    7.21 We would be also grateful if the Minister would elaborate on the new "Foreign Policy Instruments Service". We would particularly like him to remind the House what the principles set out in the decision including the division of roles between the EEAS and the Commission are; how the European Parliament sought have them changed; and how the new "Foreign Policy Instruments Service" safeguards the present arrangements.

    7.22 In the meantime, we shall retain the document under scrutiny.

    40   Two existing instruments, for Humanitarian Aid, and for Macro Financial Assistance, were judged not to be in need of modification, and were maintained. See for further background. Back

    41   See headnote (27653-55)-: HC 34-xxxv (2005-06), chapter 11 (12 July 2006). Back

    42   See headnote: (30859) 12674/10: HC 19-xxvi (2008-09), chapter 18. Back

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