Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP, Minister for Europe, Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Chairman

  You may welcome an update on the progress that has been made in the negotiations over the Draft Council Regulation on the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance since it was considered by the European Standing Committee in November 2005.

  A provisional agreement on the text of the Regulation was reached at Working Group level on 4 April. The Presidency has indicated that the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) will consider the Regulation on 3 May, along with the other external relations instruments. The UK is content with the text as it stands. However, a number of member states maintain reserves. Notably, France maintains a reserve on the procedure for agreeing the Multi-annual Indicative Financial Framework (MIFF) and a number of other Member States maintain reserves on the Cross-Border Component (CBC) of the instrument. Once these outstanding concerns have been resolved in COREPER, the Regulation will be submitted for Parliamentary scrutiny in the normal way.

  The IPA is one of six external relations instruments to be applied during the period 2007-2013. It is designed to simplify the existing complex set of pre-accession assistance programmes and streamline them into a single framework, covering both candidate countries and potential candidate countries. Once the framework regulation has been agreed, the next step is for the Commission to present the MIFF in the form of a communication to Council and Parliament. This will outline the funds available under IPA by country and by component. It will subsequently be included in the Commission's Enlargement package, to be presented to the Council and Parliament annually.

21 April 2006

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