Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 220-234)

Mr Alain Kundycki, Mr Frank De Wispelaere, Mr Michel Lastschenko, Mr Jan Mutton and Mr Michel Tilemans

21 MARCH 2006

  Q220  Chairman: Can we look specifically at some of the points Lord Hannay raised about peace and security and the Africa Peace Facility? How do you see that being funded? Do you still see it being funded primarily out of the EDF? Is there is a willingness by Member States to find other monies for that particular role? What is it that the EU, rather than the individual Member States, ought to be doing with the African Union, and how directly should they be involved? It is that whole issue of peace and security.

  Mr Kundycki: For us, peace and security are of the utmost importance. We are very happy to have an integrated approach, but this is an essential element for us. The Africa Peace Facility is a very important element in this. Perhaps I should give the floor to Mr De Wispelaere to comment on this.

  Mr De Wispelaere: I was actually planning to go into more detail on the human rights and governance issue, if you allow me to tackle that first.

  Q221  Chairman: We certainly want to address that as well.

  Mr De Wispelaere: Seen from the development side, we think that the programming process for the 10th European Development Fund will be an interesting one, in particular regarding the aspect of good governance. One of the key ideas of that programming process will be to give some extra money to countries that commit themselves to doing certain things—for instance, in the area of good governance. There is a kind of stick and carrot. We have the stick available, with the political dialogue and the Article 96 consultation of the Cotonou Agreement. However, now we have something like a carrot as well. The important thing will be that, on the EU side, we will succeed not only in a joint analysis of the situation in a particular country, but also coming up with a joint response strategy, and for the 25 to agree with that particular country on what they should do in the field of good governance and human rights. If they do not agree among themselves, then it will be hard for us. The other side, the partner country, will notice it and they will set up one EU Member State against another. If we pull one string and say, "If you do this, then on the EU side we commit ourselves to giving you extra money", that will be a totally different signal. I think that it will be worthwhile to look at how that kind of dialogue and process unfolds. The second remark I would make goes back to the first part of the discussion and the implementation issue. On the side of development policy, we have all the normative documents we need. We have the European consensus which was adopted by the Council, the Commission and the European Parliament. It gives us indications on how we should implement coherence; how we should co-ordinate; how we should be coherent with 25. The question will be: how do we do it and how do we actually deliver? There again, the programming process for the 10th EDF will be the first test. As to the Peace Facility, I think that Michel Tilemans can elaborate on that but we are very much in favour of EDF funding, with the one proviso that there should be a very clear political steer exercised by the COPS.

  Q222  Lord Lea of Crondall: On the level of funding, do you think that the position is now becoming clearer? Going back to Gleneagles and all these other commitments, what is the size of the pot? Not only what is spent from the pot, but who is putting which part of their budget into the pot—has all that been clarified now? We found it difficult to get up-to-date figures as to what are the commitments to Africa arising in practice.

  Mr Lastschenko: In general?

Lord Lea of Crondall: In total and in detail. What is the position now?

  Q223  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: It is not relevant, David, to your question about the Peace Facility. The answer from the other side of the table was that you do it out of the European Development Fund. The European Development Fund is clear because it was settled last year. It has shares for Member States and, in theory at any rate, the money is there. It is also divided up between each African country.

  Mr De Wispelaere: It is clear for 95 per cent.

Lord Hannay of Chiswick: So if you say you will finance the facility out of EDF, which is effectively out of development money, then you have identified where the money is coming from.

  Q224  Chairman: I think that we must have this discussion when we get home. We would like to hear our friends on the other side of the table finish their contribution.

  Mr De Wispelaere: Regarding the figures, the figures are there. We have the commitments made in the run-up to the MDG Plus Five Review Summit. There are some technical matters still outstanding for the EDF envelope. Do we include administrative costs? Do we include overseas territories? Apart from that, however, we have the figures. The figures are there. So the commitments are very clear.

  Q225  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Are the Africans happy for that to be used?

  Mr De Wispelaere: I think that they can live perfectly well with the figures that have been put forward. There has been some frustration on their side, because we were not able to put them forward earlier—at the end of the revision of the Cotonou Agreement. In December, thanks to the UK Presidency, we were able to come up with one figure.

  Mr Tilemans: On the financing of the Africa Peace Facility, let us be very clear: it would be unwise and impractical to use another method than financing through the European Development Fund. The other solutions or options that have been proposed are a diversion of resources from other priorities. Specifically, Belgium is pleading very strongly, alongside many other Member States, for an increase of the CFSP budget. This CFSP budget is basically for EU peace and security actions, in particular to finance a number of operations of an ESDP nature. That is where we know, and we have been warned again and again, that the European Union will have very important ESDP commitments to meet in the Balkans and in other regions, in different kinds of military and civilian operations. The Africa Peace Facility is of a different nature. First and foremost, it is and should remain an instrument of the Commission. Again, in an approach that needs to be a coherent approach of all the institution and Member States, the Commission must also remain an actor in support of the CFSP and ESDP purposes. The best way to do that is to continue to have this instrument activated by the Commission. Basically, it means that using the European Development Fund to finance the African Peace Facility is the best way also to keep the Commission involved and to keep the African partners involved. To answer in part the question you have asked, member states of the African Union and African countries individually have themselves requested and have agreed the use of the Fund for the Africa Peace Facility. The last example was South Africa. So there is clearly a commitment from both sides—the European Union and the African Union—to have this kind of commitment executed for what they also consider to be a priority, namely the build-up of their peace and security system. That is also made possible mainly by the Africa Peace Facility.

  Mr Kundycki: Referring to other ways of financing, we felt that there was a threat that it could be reduced or that they would eat up other budgets that are important. So, for the reasons that Michel has underscored but also to keep stability in the funding, we thought that having it funded by the Europe Development Fund was the best solution in the present circumstances.

  Q226  Lord Lea of Crondall: I think that there are a couple of questions on governance. You have our agenda and we have probably been hijacking it ourselves. However, on questions 8 and 9, do you have anything that you could add to what you have said? In particular, about the relationship on the Peer Review. South Africa—we had some very good evidence, and I think that there is some tension between Johannesburg and Pretoria and Addis Ababa, in the sense of which instrument is really doing this job. Do you see any contest between these two instruments?

  Mr Mutton: I would also like to come in on what Lord Hannay was asking. As far as good governance is concerned, is it a wise thing to ask the African Union to take care of this in Africa, et cetera. I do not know if that is really the issue here. As was said earlier, good governance is something which recently we are also insisting on, in bilateral policy and now in EU policy. So talking about having good governance in the strategy is a very important debate, but it does not necessarily mean that it is transferring the responsibility on the African side, to the African Union. I think that it will be important that we all speak, in a bilateral way and through the EU, with the African Union and with individual African countries along the same lines, with the same voice and with the same messages. We will continue, on a bilateral basis, to have good governance foremost in our policy in these countries on which we are really focused. The same will apply to the European Union in terms of having good governance. There is the Cotonou Agreement; there is Article 96 and Article 8. They have their own instruments to work with and we have our policy. However, the main thing will be that, both the European Union and on a bilateral basis, we really focus along the same lines, with the same messages. From the African side, it is not that we require from the African Union that they be primarily responsible to make sure that good governance is being implemented everywhere. It is also important on an individual basis. We must see how the AU can gradually take some responsibility in this and co-ordinate how good governance is being applied. There is the instrument through NEPAD of the APRM. When we look five or 10 years ago, there are now four countries—starting with Rwanda and Ghana—which have already implemented APRM. They have reported. We may have our opinions about these reports, and so on; but the fact that they did submit it, that it is there, that it will be discussed by their peers, is a very important thing. So I do not see that we are delegating good governance through the African Union. It is more that we must all work together there, and we must gradually give the African Union responsibility—as they are doing for peace and security, good governance, and so on.

  Q227  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: I notice that you have spoken about sticks and carrots, and giving rewards. Do you think that the money the Europeans have available should be explicitly disbursed, in some cases more to a country, for example, that had submitted itself to an APRM and implemented it and less to any country that refused to accept the APRM? That is, do you think that European instruments should be used to strengthen African peer review instruments or do you think that would be counterproductive?

  Mr De Wispelaere: We do not have an agreed position on that, but I could imagine that would be one of the possibilities.

  Mr Tilemans: The other possibility would be to suspend or not deliver the aid for countries which do not implement.

  Mr De Wispelaere: That is the stick.

  Mr Kundycki: Certainly we will be ready to do that.

  Mr Mutton: APRM is there. It needs to be supported, but also we may have programmes necessary for the recommendations coming out of an APRM. It is not only supporting the drafting of the reports and helping people to make their reports, it is also helping the countries afterwards, after they have submitted their report, to implement whatever their peers are recommending. Last year, at our Africa Partnership Forum, within the framework of NEPAD, G8 and some OECD countries, Rwanda came forward with such requests—in a NEPAD conference—to support the recommendations coming out of the report. So in the future we may have to look at this. This will be part of the more global African strategy, apart from the individual country-based strategies.

  Mr Kundycki: There is a good governance facility. I do not know who is sufficiently well versed to say something about that. Some very substantial amounts will be mobilised to follow up on reports and recommendations.

  Q228  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: So basically your response is rather positive to the thought that we should use our instruments to support their instruments, as it were, both in rewards and punishments, but also in terms of, as you say, helping them implement a particular APRM report which might say, "You need to train your judges more", or whatever it is. The Europeans could say, "Okay, we'll back that programme". That is what you are saying, I think.

  Mr Kundycki: Yes.

  Q229  Chairman: This brings us towards the end of our questions, and almost back to where we started. Given that as we understand it there will be the joint implementation strategy announced by the AU and the EU, hopefully in May, from your perspective from working with this how effective have the negotiations been to get into that strategy not only the issues that we want to raise but the issues that the African Union clearly have had on the table for some considerable time?

  Mr Kundycki: I think that the matrix is already a way for them to put forward some of their expectations and their priorities. I would say that this is a way to take this on board and to have a real dialogue, taking into account what they want as our partners. However, we would look at this as being a process in the making. I am sure that we do not expect anything spectacular to happen on that date, but to have a step-by-step approach in which we can agree on some principles, on some ideas, on a road map, and that, as we go along, we pass from one step to the other.

  Q230  Lord Lea of Crondall: The road map and the matrix are somehow the same thing, in the sense that you have an ongoing process; but how do you get to a time when that is a commitment if it is just ongoing? You therefore go to a tro-£ka in Vienna—as I understand it, what we have now to call a "sextet", it is six—and all 55 of the African countries have seen the matrix, although their negotiators are via their own current president and people in Addis Ababa. Is that how it works? What is the credibility of pushing forward the matrix or the road map? Is it something that will be formally published at some stage, as a camera shot at a moment in time of where the matrix is? What sort of publication do you expect at the time of Vienna? Is it just a short note saying, "We're making progress"? Progress can go on forever. Can you say where the commitments fit into this matrix evolutionarily?

  Mr Kundycki: Saying progress can go on forever—we want to be extremely practical about this—we would not be satisfied by a statement like, "We're working on it. Don't worry". Certainly we would like to see, in a very specific way, that we are progressing. We need benchmarks and dates. I think that Michel and Frank are working on this.

  Mr Tilemans: I was going to answer at least one point of this question. There is a problem that the EU and the African Union have to solve, and that is the organisation of a summit. I know that summits are sometimes big events that do not always produce what is expected. However, the African Union and the European Union have not had a summit, namely a meeting at the level of heads of state and of government, for a long time, because of a problem regarding Zimbabwe. We have to go beyond that and find a solution. As long as there is not an event where it is possible to pinpoint commitments made by heads of state and of government, we will have a problem with the African Union that we do not have with Euromed and that we do not have with other partners, including ASEAN and even including despite the problem of Myanmar. We have to apply a solution to Zimbabwe, maybe a solution comparable to what was done with Myanmar and in order to organise ministerial meetings and a clear summit at one time or another, because five years without a summit is beginning to have its burden on the relationship between the European Union the Europe and Africa. We can continue to talk through tro-£kas, through ministers, and through meetings at a lower level; but, as long as you do not have an event that marks the moment where the strategy commitments are evaluated by both partners at the highest level, it will be very difficult to proceed.

  Q231  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: You do not think that an alternative method of co-operation between the two sides can be operated for as long as this problem of Zimbabwe is with us?

  Mr Tilemans: Yes, it can be done, but we will always have a kind of handicap.

  Q232  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: Because it is very difficult, frankly, to foresee a solution. It is not likely that Mugabe will behave as intelligently as the Burmese behave with regard to the ASEAN presidency, for example. He tries to use all these occasions, of course, to maximise his legitimacy. Since we are all agreed that he is not legitimate, it is rather difficult. I sympathise with what you are saying, but do you not think that you are asking for something that is very difficult for the Europeans to give, without creating the impression that Mugabe has got away with what he has done?

  Mr Kundycki: Certainly we would like to see a final solution, without giving in to Mugabe's views.

  Q233  Lord Hannay of Chiswick: It is not just Mugabe. If we give in, it then very much weakens everything that we have been talking about—the APRM, and all these other things—because basically you are driving a coach and horses through some of those substantive policies if you accept a regime which clearly is breaching all those policies. That is the trouble. It is not a question of face only, it seems to me, although of course with the British Government that inevitably does raise domestic political issues; it is also that it has implications for the strategy as a whole.

  Mr Kundycki: In this case, although there is no clear view on how we will solve that important issue, certainly we want to have the other Africans put Mugabe under pressure. That is the key. The problem with Zimbabwe, but also with other African countries, is that when we get into a situation where it is one of us who has a particular problem, and which Europeans agree with, Africans often very quickly refer to our problematic relationship with them in past times. It kind of stops there: you cannot go further than that. This has also happened to us on a few occasions. We know that other African countries see things differently, but there is still a solidarity among them. We have to continue to convince them that this approach is not to their own benefit. It is not to the benefit of their countries and of the African continent to have that solidarity when one of the countries is obviously misbehaving. They know it, but they just do not want to admit it. So we continue to work—we have contacts with South Africans and other important partners in the region or in the continent—to let them know that we would like to see things progress. I do not see any other way.

  Q234  Chairman: On that note, I think that we must thank you and your colleagues for being very generous with your time. It has been a very helpful session and we are most grateful. As I said, you will of course see the transcript—and indeed the report.

  Mr Kundycki: Thank you very much. It has been an interesting debate. We are certainly very keen on having your perspective on these things and also to share ours with you. This is of very great importance. We are very happy to have had the opportunity to meet with you, and we wish you a pleasant and fruitful stay in Brussels.

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