Select Committee on European Communities Written Evidence

Memorandum by Professor Juliet Lodge, University of Leeds


  Joint programmes/ventures with Central and Eastern European states are administratively onerous to the EU partners; time-consuming for what often seems to be relatively modest sums of money. They are also problematic in terms of the different cultural expectations and systems (or lack of them) between the EU and would-be EU members. Transparency and democratic practice mean very different things and certainly complicate procedures.

  We do not feel that Brussels always fully appreciates the additional burdens this creates for the EU partners in trying to administer and, in accordance with proper procedures, financially regulate and audit the programmes. The absence of a single currency is also problematic in that we have to convert and re-convert etc.

Holding meetings (planning, control, interim or end of programme meetings) with Brussels

  These would be even more beneficial if they were convened with an agenda that had been circulated well in advance (i.e., several weeks in advance) and if the objective of the meetings were made clear to start off with.

Non-EU member state partners in Central and Eastern Europe

  There seems to be a relatively high turnover of personnel on the CEE side at times so continuity is lost in administering/running the programmes and therefore one has to cover ground and repeat things. Some CEE states, however, engage in the opposite practice with the result that in some, negative cases, the CEE parties seem to lack interest and engage in a spot of tourism instead.

Improving the programmes

  They are undoubtedly valuable medium to long-term devices for promoting contacts which, hopefully, can be sustained to mutual advantage. The mutuality is often lost in the mind of the EU states in so much as experience of the programmes seems to suggest that the CEE states view them as pots of gold. It is difficult to follow-up programmes and ensure that they do what they set out to do. What sanctions should there be for non-fulfilment? Penalties may not necessarily affect those who are responsible for non-fulfilment.

  We need to recognise that we are all on a steep learning curve. There remains a need for CEE states/partners to experience, perhaps shadow, EU colleagues to learn about their administrative and political cultures at the coal face. The way in which we actually resolve disagreements, use committees, set up management systems, follow-up decisions, engage in honest financial regulation and management, share information, keep records, meet deadlines, and attain objectives applying models of best and good practice still needs attention. This applies both in respect of how Brussels is dealt with and how programmes should, ideally be administered in the CEE states themselves. There is a sense in which the rhetoric of equality and partnership needs to be recognised as an ideal rather than an operating procedure. Leadership from the EU-side is required and should, perhaps, be made a precondition of receiving funding. The notion of co-leadership which is hierarchical (i.e., not really equal at all) probably needs to be made a norm until such time as good practice is evident in the recipient states.

Juliet Lodge

Centre for European Studies

University of Leeds

2 June 1998

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