Select Committee on European Communities Thirty-Third Report


    Invitation for evidence, May 1998


Sub-Committee C is conducting an enquiry into environmental aspects of the Tacis Programme of European Union technical assistance for economic reform and recovery in the New Independent States (NIS) of the former Soviet Union and Mongolia.

Key reference documents include: the Commission's Annual Report for 1996 on the Tacis Programme (COM(97)400 Final); the Court of Auditors' Annual Report for 1996 (OJ No C348, 18 November 1997), Chapter 14; the Tacis Interim Evaluation Report (European Commission, DG IA, June 1997); and various reports by the European Parliament and its committees.

Written evidence is invited on the effectiveness of Tacis in promoting know­how and investment in environmental protection and improvement in the NIS, other than in the nuclear safety field, with particular reference to the European sector of the Russian Federation and the Ukraine. Besides official organisations, the Sub­Committee will be particularly interested to hear from people or organisations (eg NGOs) with direct experience of Tacis projects in the field. It will wish to consider the following issues, among others:

1.    the nature and scale of environmental problems in the NIS;

2.    the priorities for action under the Tacis Programme;

3.    the relationship between Tacis and other forms of Official Development Assistance (ODA), eg EBRD, World Bank, UK Know-How Fund and other bilateral aid;

4.    the success of Partnership and Cooperation Agreements in providing a satisfactory framework for environmental programmes and projects;

5.    the new emphasis on environment in the 1996 Tacis Regulation and whether it is starting to show results;

6.    whether Tacis can truly be described as a "people to people" programme (Commissioner Hans van den Broek): how far are its aims frustrated by complex procedures, institutional barriers and long chains of command between the Commission and NIS governments?

7.    the Commission's organisation and the resources needed, in Brussels and in the field, for efficient management of the programme;

8.    the steps being taken to address the criticisms of the European Court of Auditors and the European Parliament and to follow up the recommendations of the Interim Evaluation Report;

9.    how to obtain best value from consultants and at the same time to ensure "ownership" on the part of the beneficiaries in the NIS;

10.  the strength and influence of environmental NGOs in the NIS: the success of Tacis and other ODA in building NGO capacity and increasing environmental awareness among the general public;

11.  whether there are lessons to be learned from experience with PHARE which could usefully be applied to Tacis; and

12.  the role of the European Environment Agency in relation to Tacis.

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