Candidates receive agricultural aid
|View today's updated headlines from the EU|
On 29 of November in Brussels, the European Commission authorized the signing of the Multi-Annual and Annual Financing Agreements with the accession states. Thus, considerable progress was made in providing and distributing the yearly EUR 520 million aid for rural and agricultural development in candidate states.
As part of the SAPARD (Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development), these agreements were signed by Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries. They were geared towards the candidates' preparation for participation in the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) and the single European market.
The money is going to be released on a yearly basis and over a period of seven years, between 2000 and 2006. At the moment, Poland (EUR 168.683 million per year) and Bulgaria (EUR 52.124 million per year) have been receiving most of the aid.
Apart from their long-term objectives, the agreements also involve an unprecedented decentralization of management. It has been agreed that each candidate country should have an accredited SAPARD agency to manage the funds coming from the EU. In addition, it is argued that the delegation of responsibility to national levels will be extremely beneficial in the long run.
Firstly, accession states will acquire relevant experience in terms of agricultural and rural development. This experience will then be of utter importance when these countries become part of the CAP. Secondly, this delegation of responsibility will generate a number of transferable skills. And lastly, decentralization makes management of the porgrammes at present much easier and more effective.
However, the decentralization of management of the intended development programmes and the respective financial controls pose great legislative and administrative strains on the EU and its candidate countries alike. Despite that, the great efforts necessary on both sides are underpinned by a sober dose of commitment.
Currently, the accommodation of the prospective members under the CAP and their participation in the single European market are seen as some of the biggest and most contested economic challenges to EU enlargement.
New environment and transport projects
On 24 November in Brussels, the Management Committee of ISPA (Instrument for Structural Policies for Pre-Accession) and a delegation of member-state representatives agreed to co-finance 30 more environment and transport projects for Central and Eastern Europe.
The approved projects are worth more than EUR 390 million; some of the projects are to be included in this year's budget. Thus, the total yearly budget of ISPA (EUR 1040 million) is likely to be committed. The most recent projects agreed on were ten transport and 27 environment projects at the end of October. Michael Barnier, Commissioner for Regional Policy, gives the go-ahead for the implementation of ISPA co-financed projects.
The list now proposed to the ISPA management Committee consisted of 13 technical assistance, ten environment and seven transport projects. The environment projects are focused on wastewater treatment, waste management, and drinking water supply. The transport projects, in turn, pertain to railroad infrastructure and the development or improvement of road corridors.
Green Paper on energy
On 29 of November, the European Commission adopted a Green Paper on the energy supply of the Union. This paper is likely to have a wide range of economic, environmental and political repercussions for member states and accession candidates alike.
The aim of the paper is to open a public debate on the future of the energy policy of the EU. This debate has become necessary as a result of Europe's growing energy dependency, which raises issues of security of supply, competitiveness and sustainable development.
Provided that no effective measures are now taken, it has been estimated that the future energy consumption will be increasingly covered by natural gas and solid fuel resources. There is also a foreseen increase in the use of renewable resources; however, the share of renewable resources is to rise from 6 percent to barely 8 percent by 2030. Meanwhile, the use of oil and nuclear energy is believed to decrease.
In addition, the Green Paper arrived as a result of the perceived increasing interdependence among the EU countries. This interdependence is seen in aspects of energy supply and security as well as in terms of growing environmental concerns regarding climate change. The Kyoto Protocol and the recent, hardly successful, meeting in the Hague also inform the opening of the debate.
After identifying the structural weaknesses of the EU's current energy policy, the paper outlines strategies for long-term sustainability. Among these, a renewed scrutiny of the dangers and advantages of nuclear energy, and measures to implement an "active, coherent approach" are most likely to have a distinct impact on the future composition and operation of the Union.
Energy and Enlargement
Recently, the opening and negotiations of the energy chapter with candidate states have been delayed. The main reason for this was the lack of a common position of member states regarding the use and safety of nuclear power. After continuous Austrian protests and threats against the Temelin power plant in the Czech Republic, there have been renewed investigations on nuclear energy.
At the same time, the WWF (World Wildlife Fund) has produced a report tackling the relation between climate change and nuclear energy. Although there is no clear correlation between the use of nuclear energy and greenhouse gas emissions, France has been singled out as a country with remarkably low levels of CO2 emissions and with a huge share of nuclear energy (75 percent) in electricity production. Thus, combined policy on nuclear power and energy efficiency can be seen as a viable strategy for long-term sustainability, the WWF report implied.
In addition, the WWF is launching its week on Enlargement on 1 December. The central theme is to show the ways, in which Enlargement will benefit the environment. Hence, the use of "environmental difficulties as an excuse to delay the enlargement of the EU" is likely to be heavily criticized.
In conclusion, it becomes highly probable that the factors discussed above will play a definite role in the pace of enlargement, for they have already, in one way or another, become part of its politics.
Ivana Gogova, 5 December 2000
- Archive of EU/NATO news reviews
- View today's updated headlines from the EU
- Browse through the CER eBookstore for electronic books
- Return to CER front page
Euractiv Centre for European Policy Studies
Official EU press releases
WWF (Report on Climate Change and Nuclear Power)
Today's updated headlines from the EU