On 5 and 6 February a launching conference was held in Bratislava for a new euro 1.3 million project. Under this project judges from all candidate states will be trained in EU law. The objective
of this program is to provide for the effective implementation of the political side of the Helsinki criteria. It is believed that this will be achieved through fostering and, to some degree, homogenizing the legal framework in the accession states.
The conference was attended by the European Commission, the European Institute of Public Administration, and by representatives of Finland, France, Italy, Sweden, and all 13 EU applicant states.
The project will run until April 2002 and will focus on supporting officials responsible for the continuous training of judges. In addition, efforts will be made to develop an expanding network of trainers in the candidate states.
Meanwhile, a training manual and pilot seminars with country-specific case studies will also be a considerable part of the project.
The Phare Horizontal Programme of Justice and Home Affairs will sponsor this project with the applicants from Central and Eastern Europe. The Programme has so far supported application of the acquis on asylum, the fight against organised crime and corruption, and police training in countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
Turkey, Malta and Cyprus will be financed separately.
Less structural aid for candidates after Nice
According to a report published by the Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH) last week, the re-weighing of votes in the Council of Ministers agreed at Nice will result in significantly less structural aid going to the prospective member states.
Once candidates become EU members, the allocation of structural funds for them will be based on the number of votes they hold in the Council. In other words, with the exception of Poland, the applicant states will experience a decrease in structural aid from the EU.
Naturally, the countries with least votes will experience the most severe cuts in EU structural funds. According to the IWH, Latvia, Slovenia and Estonia will lose two thirds of their current structural aid. On the other hand, Spain and Poland will benefit from the redistribution of votes. The latter countries will see a 55 per cent increase in structural funds, the report stated.
Turkey to receive ISPA and SAPARD aid
The European Parliament is to debate a draft resolution this week on whether Turkey should be included in the two major financial instruments of enlargement. It is argued that the inclusion of Turkey in ISPA (the pre-accession structural instrument) and SAPARD (the Special Accession Programme for Agriculture and Rural Development) is in accordance with the country's candidate status and with its needs.
The resolution was initially proposed by the Commission and amended by the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs. It will be further discussed on 14 February.
Aid from ISPA and SAPARD would help Turkey restructure its farming sector, improve the rural environment and infrastructure, and protect the environment. In this way, Turkey would make significant progress in meeting the accession criteria, the draft resolution implies.
Moreover, the present exclusion of Turkey from these financial instruments attests more to the fact that candidates are treated differently, depending on political and strategic interests, rather than individually, on the basis of each candidate's merits and needs.
Hence, it becomes imperative that the ever-special relationship between the EU and Turkey is transformed in ways at least slightly more congruent with Turkey's current (equal) candidate status.
RRF supported by US
The greatly debatable EU plans for a deeper European Defence Identity and the setting up of a rapid reaction force (RRF) within the framework of NATO were unexpectedly endorsed by Colin Powell, the new US secretary of state, at a State Department press conference in Washington on Tuesday.
"There's no reason to see this as destabilising NATO in any way," said Mr Powell after he met Robin Cook, the British foreign minister. "In fact, I think it is our common belief that it will strengthen NATO."
Mr Powell's views have come as a deviation from those of the US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld and a bulk of senior Republican congressional leaders, who have recently argued that the trans-Atlantic alliance will be seriously threatened by such an European undertaking.
"It runs the risk of injecting instability into the alliance," said Mr Rumsfeld at the annual meeting of the International Security Policy Conference held in Munich last weekend.
The discussions at the conference were attended by NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson who enumerated the top priorities on the alliance's agenda, namely the EU development of the RRF, the situation in the Balkans, weapons of mass destruction and the future of NATO enlargement.
Meanwhile, the first meeting of the North Atlantic Council and the EU Political and Security Committee under the new permanent NATO-EU arrangements was held on 5 February. Under discussion were the future settlements between the two organisations and the ongoing violence in the Balkans.
Confusion within NATO over missile defence
Most countries in Europe, especially Germany and France, were surprised to learn earlier this week that they had to accept the plans of the new US administration for the deployment of a National Missile Defence (NMD). The piece of "advice" came from Lord Robertson in a speech after the Munich conference: "The United States has made it clear that it intends to deploy some effective missile defence system and there has to be an acceptance that that was the decision made in the election campaign and we should treat it seriously and with respect."
His statement that there were no splits within NATO with regards to NMD seems even more controversial after Germany and France had already come out publicly against NMD. NMD is on its way to become even more problematic for NATO than the European defence force because of a strong opposition from Russia and China and the possibility of an increase in nuclear weapons.
Ivana Gogova and Branimira Radoslavova,
9 February 2001
NATO Official Homepage
European Parliament Report
on the proposal for a Council regulation on assistance to Turkey in the framework of the pre-accession strategy, and in particular on the establishment of an Accession Partnership
Commission Press Release: Launching of a 1.3 million project
on the training of judges in EU Law in the candidate countries
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