Select Committee on European Union Minutes of Evidence

Supplementary Memorandum by Jim Murphy MP, Minister for Europe


The EU's Strategy on Central Asia (under section V) contains a commitment to "develop a Rule of Law initiative which addresses the specific priorities identified by each country". What are the main contours of this Rule of Law initiative, and what instruments, including financial, will be made available to implement it?


  The objective of the Rule of Law Initiative in the EU Central Asia Strategy will be to work with the countries of Central Asia to promote legal and administrative reform to strengthen respect for the law by all levels of society thereby safeguarding both economic interests and human rights and fundamental freedoms. The Strategy aims to achieve this by providing training for countries in the region and the exchange of international expertise. This includes facilitating contacts with the Council of Europe's legal experts on the Venice Commission and seconding international experts.

  We look forward to working with the Presidency, the EU Special Representative for Central Asia, the Commission and other Partners to develop the initiative, which we will want to focus on promoting the principles of good governance, economic reform including transparency of government, the independence of the judiciary, the safeguarding of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the security of contracts and investments.

  Details have yet to be discussed, but possible instruments include existing EU Partnership and Co-operation Agreements with the Central Asia states, Human Rights Dialogues, the Commission's Assistance Programme and Member States' individual assistance programmes. The EU will also co-ordinate with other international donors, in particular the International Financial Institutions, the UN Development Programme and other relevant UN agencies, the OSCE and the Council of Europe's Venice Commission.


What plans are there for a strengthening of the Mediterranean dimension of the ENP?


  The Portuguese Presidency is likely to attach great importance to the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (`EuroMed'), especially on migration issues. However, the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) will remain a coherent, cohesive policy. The Portuguese have underlined that, while they will seek to develop a fresh approach towards the Mediterranean region, they will maintain a holistic approach to the ENP and intensify political dialogue with both Southern and Eastern neighbours. As I mentioned during our meeting, the Commission is organising a high-level ENP conference on 3 September in Brussels to which Mediterranean and Eastern ENP partners have been invited.

  We believe that EuroMed should reinforce ENP aims of good governance and reform. We used our 2005 EU Presidency to push EuroMed towards more reform-oriented action and goals. As we approach the second anniversary of the Barcelona Summit, we want the EuroMed Foreign Ministers Conference (Lisbon, 5-6 November) to demonstrate tangible progress against the Barcelona commitments on political, economic and social reform, with clear targets for 2008, and follow-up to the EuroMed Code of Conduct on Countering Terrorism.

31 July 2007

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