Select Committee on European Communities Written Evidence

Letter from Environmental Resources Management Ltd


  In response to your letter of 4 June 1998 addressed to Robin Bidwell, I am providing a brief written response as I am unable to attend on the dates suggested.

  I am the project director of a four million ecu TACIS Inter-State project: Developing Common Environmental Policies for the NIS and Mongolia which started in February 1997 and will end in February 1999. My comments are based on the experience gained during this project.

  1. This project was based upon the assumption that the NIS had a need for "inter-state" institutions and programmes. By the time the project got under way, it was clear that this was not accepted by many of the NIS and the relevant institution selected to channel the programme—the Inter-State Ecological Council was extremely weak. As a result, the project has focused on providing in-country assistance to the NIS on preparation of National Environmental Action Plans and their follow up. It has been clear that there is a demand for this support and as a result the project, once refocused, has been reasonably well received by the beneficiaries.

  2. The strengths of the project, in our opinion are:

    —  it provides support to beneficiaries to assist with an activity they already have ownership of;

    —  it is tailored to their individual circumstances and flexible over the time period;

    —  it is well co-ordinated with other programmes such as the OECD EAP Task Force and a number of strong World Bank projects in the region;

    —  it meets their immediate needs in relation to preparing sound projects for funding by IFI's and donors.

  3. The weaknesses are, in our opinion:

    —  the resources are spread very thinly over the NIS and the value of the support cannot therefore be maintained for a meaningful period.

    —  the TACIS administration was unable to devote any inputs to the project start-up and therefore could not convey a sense of commitment to the beneficiaries about the project—many countries were simply unaware that the project was happening;

    —  the TACIS administration does not have the resources to develop a partnership with the beneficiaries and to participate in guiding the project;

    —  The TACIS contractual inflexibility and slowness causes great problems in delivering a demand-led support project and caused considerable irritation among some beneficiaries;

    —  TACIS has launched another inter-state project in parallel, Widening the EAP in the NIS and Mongolia which overlaps and must result in signficant waste of financial resources as well as confusion to the beneficiaries.

  I hope these comments are useful. I feel it would be inappropriate to make comments on a wider theme as we are in the midst of this very significant project. Please let me know if we can help any further.

John Horberry

Director, International Development Services

12 June 1998

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