Select Committee on European Union Fortieth Report


Letter from the Chairman to Tony McNulty MP, Minister of State, Home Office

  Thank you for your letter of 11 January 2006,[186] which Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs) of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union considered on 1 February. We are very grateful to you for providing us with the figures and information requested in relation to the Gateway Programme.

  The Committee noted that resettlement in the UK is currently very low, and is well below the target the Government has set. It seems to us that, given the difficulties encountered with the Gateway Programme, the Government will hardly be in a position to commit to any resettlement quota under the two pilot Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs) shortly to be launched. Nonetheless, we are glad to hear that the Government supports resettlement. This is clearly an important component of RPPs—one that can genuinely lead to easing the burden in regions of origin, and address protracted refugee situations—and we would hope that the Commission's proposals for the two pilots will include a resettlement element.

  The Committee has learned that the December European Council adopted Conclusions regarding priority actions focusing on Africa and the Mediterranean which, amongst others, call for the pilot in Tanzania to be established and launched as early as possible in 2006, with a steering group to oversee the programme. Given the urgency of the matter, we would expect you to be shortly in a position to give us details of this and of the NIS pilot in Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus, and of the results of any discussions with UNHCR. We would also like information on the composition of the steering group and on the financial allocation for the two pilots. In the meantime we will continue to keep the document under scrutiny.

1 February 2006

Letter from Tony McNulty MP to the Chairman

  Thank you for your letter of 1 February in which you ask for details of the European Commission's thinking on the contents of the two pilot Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs), proposed in the Commission's Communication on RPPs (Document 11989/05).

  In my letter to you of 30 November 2005, I undertook that my officials would write to you directly with these details. A letter to this effect was sent to you on 31 January and I enclose a copy of that letter.

  I am satisfied that the letter of 31 January covers the points that you raise, but if you need any further information or clarification please do not hesitate to contact me.

1 March 2006

Annex A

   In his letter of 30 November, Tony McNulty said he would keep you informed when the European Commission came forward with further details for the implementation of the two pilot Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs). The pilots are to be deployed in the Western NIS region (Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus) and sub-Saharan Africa/Great Lakes region (with a focus on Tanzania).

  At the Strategic Committee on Immigration, Frontiers and Asylum (SCIFA) held in Brussels on 13 December, the Commission presented broad areas for actions that could form part of the pilots, and advised Member States that discussions with the relevant third countries had now taken place, stating that discussions had fed into the process to identify the possible actions.

  For the NIS region as a whole, the Commission suggests projects that support regional co-operation, as well as those to improve the registration and documentation of refugees and projects focusing on voluntary returns.

  The Commission suggests that Ukraine could additionally benefit from actions being undertaken to improve the consideration process of applications for refugee status through better interpretation and translation methods and practices. Other areas for actions in the Ukraine include improving legal and practical access to intergration measures and promoting self reliance among refugees, improving reception and accommodation infrastructures and establishing effective border monitoring mechanisms with the aim of improving access to procedures for persons in need of protection. The Commission also suggest that actions which reinforce subsidiary protection through the provision of legislative training and support could also add value.

  For Moldova, the Commission indicates that assistance to develop the capacity of the refugee directorate, including training, improving basic needs of refugees and developing an intergration programme, would be appropriate.

  In Belarus the Commission considers that projects focusing on building the capacity of civil society and NGOs in the asylum field, actions to improve legal and practical access to intergration, and the promotion of self reliance for refugees, could also improve capacity.

  For the sub-Saharan Africa/Great Lakes region, the Commission reports that the Tanzanian authorities have stressed that the top priorities for Tanzania fall into three main areas: repatriation, security and environmental redress. The Commission suggests that for the pilot, projects which focus on the following areas could add value: actions to strengthen the capacity of governmental and non-governmental national institutions, projects to improve the efficiency of registration and documentation of refugees, actions to address the impact of refugee populations on the hosting communities and work to encourage the inclusion of refugee issues in the national development agenda.

  On funding for the pilot programmes, the Commission confirmed that the 2005 AENEAS Programme allocates €2 million for NIS countries and €4 million for sub-Saharan Africa/Great Lakes region, with a priority for actions in Tanzania. The Commission also suggested that the 2006 TACIS Programme may provide further funding for RPP activities in the NIS region.

  The Commission also confirmed that it would set up a steering committee comprising the relevant Commission services, UNHCR, interested Member States and other relevant stakeholders to oversee the proper co-ordination and delivery of the pilots. There were no further details on the Commission's thinking for the resettlement aspects of both pilots.

Letter from the Chairman to Tony McNulty MP

  Thank you for your letter of 1 March 2006 and for undertaking to update us on the Commission's thinking with respect to the two Regional Protection Programmes (RPPs) which were first proposed in this Communication. Sub-Committee F (Home Affairs) of the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Union considered this matter again at a meeting on 29 March.

  We are very grateful for your officials' very detailed letter of 31 January, which anticipates, and fully answers, the points we raised in our letter of 1 February. The Committee has no outstanding questions at this stage and has decided to clear this document from scrutiny.

29 March 2006

186   Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 538. Back

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