Select Committee on European Communities Report


Letter from the Rt Hon Clare Short MP, Secretary of State, Department for International Development, to Lord Tordoff, Chairman of the Committee

  I am writing to apologise for an administrative error that has led to the adoption of a Council Decision before your Committee had a chance to consider its implications.

  The Commission proposal for an EC Decision on financing the fixed costs of the system of managing technical assistance of the ACP states and OCT was issued on 15 June 1998 under reference COM (1998) 369 Final. This document has still to be circulated by the Council Secretariat.

  The proposal concerns the appointment of two private companies (selected on the basis of an international call for tender funded from the EDF) by the Commission to replace an organisation called the European Association for Cooperation (EAC) to manage the provision of EC technical assistants and other experts. The EC had funded EAC to fulfil this task since 1964 but appointed the firms following their decision to wind up the EAC by the end of 1998. The Commission's decision to wind up EAC was previously reported to the Parliamentary Scrutiny Committees in DFID's explanatory memorandum of 9 February on the Court of Auditors' special report on their audit of the European Association for Cooperation (5068/98/ADD 1).

  In late June, EUD received a notification from UKREP that the proposal was to be submitted to COREPER, at which time my officials mistakenly thought that, given the nature of the proposal, scrutiny was not required. By the time the error was realised, it proved impracticable to remove it from the General Affairs Council Agenda despite UKREP's efforts, and it was agreed as an A point on 13 July. I very much regret that this action prevented your Committee from having an opportunity to consider the proposal before adoption.

  Document COM (1998) 369 Final will be formally deposited as soon as possible and, if you would like an explanatory memorandum produced on it, my Department will of course complete one. My officials will be in contact with yours shortly to establish how you would like to proceed.

2 July 1998

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