Select Committee on European Union Fourth Report


Letter from the Chairman to Rt Hon Denis MacShane MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and CommonwealthOffice

  Thank you for the Explanatory Memoranda dated 5 July which Sub-Committee C considered at its meeting on 8 July.

The Sub-Committee are again concerned that insufficient time is being allowed for parliamentary scrutiny. The Explanatory Memorandum states that the document was due to be agreed one week after the document was sent to the Committee. This is highly unsatisfactory; although I understand that in the event no agreement is now expected until September.

This extension is fortuitous as the Committee has decided to hold the document under scrutiny until certain concerns on the co-operation programme have been answered.

First, the Explanatory Memorandum fails to outline how much money is being spent by the UK bi-laterally, and by the EU as a whole, on non-proliferation and disarmament projects in Russia. Please would you provide a full breakdown of the money already spent and that committed by the UK, the EU and the UK through the EU.

Secondly, we wonder why, if two long-standing projects cost less than £4 million, has the UK committed to spend up to $750 illion over 10 years?

The Sub-Committee hope to be able to consider your response and to decide whether to clear the document from scrutiny at their meeting on 9 September. I would accordingly welcome a reply by 1 September.

9 July 2004

Letter from Rt Hon Denis MacShane MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 9 July enquiring about the European Union Co-operation Programme for Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in the Russian Federation.

  I am sorry your Committee felt that they did not have enough time to clear the original EM. However, we believed at the time that the original Joint Action would be extended. Now discussions are currently taking place at working group level for a new EU Joint Action, which may result in the work of this project being able to be spread over a wider geographical scope. It is hoped that agreement on this new Joint Action will now be reached in September. A draft copy will be sent to the Committees for your consideration when we receive a new text. I hope our answers below will help clarify some of the financial aspects of the EU's involvement in Russia so far.

  You enquired about the current levels of funding by the UK bilaterally, the EU as a whole, and the amount spent by the UK through the EU on projects in Russia. Bilaterally, the UK has committed to spend up to $750 million over 10 years through the G8 Global Partnership. This was announced by the Prime Minister at the G8 Summit in Kananaskis, 2002. As stated in the 2003 Annual Report of the G8 Global Partnership, the UK spent approximately £14.11million on projects under the Global Partnership during 2002-03. The estimated expenditure for 2003-04 is £37.5 million. A full account of this expenditure will be included in the 2004 Annual Report, which will be published in the Autumn.

  The EU also promotes co-operative risk reduction activities and the safe and secure dismantlement of WMD-related resources in Russia. To this end Member States have committed 27.1 million Euro from the EU's CFSP budget since the Joint Action was enacted in 1999. The budget for 2003-04 is 9.6 million Euro. The UK's share of this budget is currently around 15 per cent. Therefore we have-contributed approximately £2.7 million to EU projects in Russia since 1999 (£0.95 million for 2003-04). This is in addition to the UK's G8 Global Partnership Programme. EU activities are co-ordinated with Member States to avoid unnecessary duplication. For example, the EU works with the UK on the procurement of electricity equipment for the electricity substation at Shchuch'ye, and contributes £1.4 million towards this project.

  The other area of EU activity is under the auspices of the Commission's Tacis programme. Launched by the EC in 1991, the Tacis Programme provides grant-financed technical assistance to 12 countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia, and mainly aims at enhancing the transition process in these countries. From the EU contribution of nearly 160 million Euro to Russian programmes, 127 million Euro has been allocated to the International Science and Technology Centre (ISTC) in Moscow for reconversion of weapon experts to work with peaceful projects. Some 23 million Euro have been used for Tacis projects in the field of Nuclear Material Accounting and Control. Six million Euro have been directed to the destruction of chemical weapons and 4 million Euro to reconversion of weapon production facilities.

4 August 2004

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