|The Courier N° 145 - May - June 1994- Dossier : European Union: the Way forward - Country Report: Ethiopia (EC Courier, 1994, 104 p.)|
New member of the European Commission appointed
The former Spanish Foreign Minister Marcelino Oreja Aguirre has been appointed a member of the Commission of the European Communities.
The announcement was made at a meeting of the Permanent Representatives of the Member States in Brussels on 27 April. Mr Oreja, who has also served as Secretary-General of the Council of Europe and held a seat in the European Parliament, succeeds the outgoing Spanish Commissioner Abel Matutes, who is retiring after eight years in the post to contest the forthcoming European elections. The new Commissioner will take over his predecessor's responsibilities for Transport and Energy.
Report on cooperation with the development NGOs
The Commission recently published its annual report (for 1992) on its cooperation with European nongovernmental development organisations in areas of interest to developing countries.
Established 18 years ago, cooperation between the NGOs and the European Union is a practical manifestation of the Union's involvement in the solidarity of Europe's citizens with the least-favoured peoples of the Third World. In 1992, the amount provided under this heading reached ECU 634m, 32% more than in 1991 (ECU 480m) and 99% more than in 1990 (ECU 318.5m).
Most of the funds were directed towards development activities in developing countries (ECU 98m), informing the European public about development problems (ECU 11.4m), food aid (ECU 255.7m) and emergency aid (ECU 110.3m). It has been possible, however, thanks to the opening of new budget lines, to diversify adivities as well as to increase the resources available.
In this context, 1992 saw the allocation of ECU 39.3m for refugees and displaced persons, ECU 4.5m for NGOs involved in supporting the democratic process and economic cooperation in Chile, ECU 4.2m for the campaign against chugs, ECU 80m for the victims of apartheid, ECU 11.5m for the people of the frontline states of Southern Africa (aimed at counteracting the destabilisation activities of South Africa in these countries), ECU 17m for NGOs working in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, ECU 1.5m for NGOs involved in Vietnam and ECU 0.5m for those engaged in work in Cambodia.
As is indicated in the introduction to the report, this diversification underlines the capacity of NGOs to be involved in a wide range of areas, and in particular, in situations where the EU's official cooperation programmes are sometimes unable to function. This is not to mention the important role NGOs play in following up humanitarian actions financed by the EU as regards reconstruction/rehabilitation and the promotion of democracy and human rights.
Human rights, democracy and development
The Commission has approved a report on the implementation during 1993 of the resolution on human rights, democracy and development which was adopted by the Council and the Member States at a meeting on 28 November 1991.
The Report emphasises the interdependence between development on the one hand and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, together with democracy, on the other. It describes the positive actions supported by the Commission in favour of developing countries as well as the measures taken by the EU and its Member States in cases where there have been serious human rights violations and/or an interruption of the democratic process.
It is reported that 143 operations were either financed or co-financed by the Community during the year in question, representing a financial commitment of ECU 39.2m. The breakdown was as follows:
Other developing countries
The report also contains:
- a restatement of the criteria applied by the Commission in implementing positive actions;
- a succinct description of the actions concerned;
- a description of the measures taken by the EU and its Member States following serious human rights violations or an interruption of the democratic process;
- the guidelines that the Commission would like to adopt as regards possible future initiatives in this area.
Equal rights for immigrants
Some ten million immigrants will shortly have the right to live and move freely within the territory of the European Union. This was the message delivered by Padraig Flynn, the European Commissioner with responsibility for social affairs and immigration, when he recently presented a plan for the integration of immigrants. Mr Flynn believes that all foreign nationals who are legally settled in any of the Member States should be treated in the same way as citizens of the EU, thereby conferring on them the same rights.
In a statement to the press, Mr Flynn underlined the fad that the plan was an example of the political progress made possible by the Maastricht Treaty, which gives competence to the EU in the fields of immigration, justice and police cooperation. Confirming the intention of the Commission to work on the basis that there is only one category of citizen, and to extend the same rights to all, Mr Flynn also recognised that a gradual approach would have to be adopted when it came to immigration questions.
Resolution of banana dispute with Latin American countries
On 29 March, the Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Rene Steichen, announced an agreement with four of the five countries involved in the GATT panel on bananas (Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and Venezuela). In his announcement, Mr Steichen said that he was satisfied with the agreement as it resolves a long-running dispute with these countries. At the same time, it ensures that the objedives of the Community's regime for bananas - namely, protection of ACP banana producer interests and of Community producer and consumer interests, as well as respect for the Community's international obligations - will continue to be maintained. The agreement involves an increase in the tariff quota to 2.1m tonnes in 1994 and to 2.2m tonees in 1995. A share of this quota will be allocated to each of the countries in question on the basis of their past exports to the EC and the national authorities will be entitled to export licences for 70% of these exports. The in-quota tariff will be reduced from ECU 100 per tonne to ECU 75 per tonne on the full tariff quota. It has therefore been agreed that Columbia, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Venezuela and the EC will not seek the adoption of the GATT panel report. Furthermore, the four countries concerned will not initiate GATT dispute settlement procedures against the EU's regime for the duration of this agreement (which is valid until 31 December 2002).
Future relations with South Africa
The Commission foresees the establishment of future relations between the EU and South Africa falling into two phases: a package of initial measures to be presented to the incoming South African government following the election, which should include an immediate offer to negotiate an interim agreement, and then an offer to begin negotiations on a more comprehensive, longer-term agreement. With this in mind, the Commission has decided to submit to the Council a proposal for drawing up a first package of measures to meet the immediate needs of South Africa and without prejudice to a longer-term global arrangement to be put in place at a later stage. For the initial package, the measures currently proposed are as follows: Better market access: South Africa already has most favoured nation (MFN) status but the Commission is proposing to grant the benefits of the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP) on top of this. Regional economic cooperation: In order to encourage intra-regional trade in Southern Africa, it might be useful to explore the possibilities and conditions for 'origin cumulation' within the region in order to stimulate the use of inputs from neighbouring countries. Investment promotion: To encourage investment in South Africa, it would be useful to offer the benefits of the European Community Investment Partners (ECIP) financial instrument. This enables grants and loans to be made to small firms and public organisations in both the EU and the eligible countries, for joint ventures. It would also be advisable to extend the Business Cooperation Network (BCNET) to South Africa and finally, the EIB will be consulted as to whether, and on what terms, it could consider expanding its activities to South Africa. Other areas of cooperation: In a number of areas, including education and training, industry, telecommunications, and science and technology, closer cooperation between the EU and South Africa is both feasible and desirable. Development cooperation (special programme): The election of the new South African government will, for the first time, enable a proper dialogue on future development assistance to take place. This will cover both the areas for assistance and the channels for implementation. lifting cd sanctions: In parallel with a decision to that effect to be taken by the United Nations, the Commission proposes the lifting of those sanctions that remain in force, namely the ban on arms exports and imports and the refusal to cooperate in the military sphere. To embody these measures, the Commission proposes that an interim agreement with the new South African Government, once it has been elected, be concluded without delay. Such an agreement should serve as a legal basis for future cooperation between the EU and South Africa. The agreement, while including financial provisions relating to the EU budget, will entail, among other things, a solid human rights clause designed to underline the fact that respect for democracy and human rights constitutes a fundamental element of future relations between the parties. The new relationship between the EU and South Africa should be tied in with the development of a political dialogue to be strengthened further in the longer term. At the initial stage, this dialogue should focus on support for democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, and the promotion of social justice, as well as on working together to combat poverty and all forms of racial, political, religious and cultural discrimination. The dialogue should also include the regional dimension.
Joint EU embassy building in Nigeria
Ten Member States of the European Union, and the European Commission, are going to have their missions to Nigeria housed in a joint embassy building, Europa House, in the new capital, Abuja. This will be the outcome of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOW) signed by ministers from the ten participating Member States and the Commissioner responsible for external political relations, Hans van den Broek, at a meeting held alongside the General Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 19 April. (The United Kingdom has already established an embassy in Abuja, and Luxembourg does not have a mission to Nigeria.) The legal basis for the Memorandum is Article J.6 of the Treaty on European Union, and the move is a consequence of the decision by the Nigerian government to transfer its seat from Lagos to Abuja. The next step in the process will be the launching of a competition for the design of the embassy building among 15 architects from the Member States with proven experience in designing for tropical climates. An independent panel of representatives of the Member States will judge the entries and rank them in order of merit. As a precursor to the permanent joint embassy in Abuja, the same Member States and the Commission already operate a provisional arrangement of a similar nature which was inaugurated on 28 October 1992 (see issue No 137 of the Courier, page 14). This was a 'first' in the history of the Community and probably also in diplomatic history.
COMMON FOREIGN AND SECURITY POLICY
The European Union has, within the framework of its Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP), recently issued the following statements on events of international interest:
Statement on Sudan 21 February 1994
The European Union remains deeply concerned at the suffering being inflicted on the Sudanese people by the continuing civil war and the ever worsening human rights situation in Sudan. The Union therefore condemns the current bombings by the Sudanese air force, which are hamming the civilian population and causing a mass exodus to neighbouring countries. Consequently, the EU would urge the parties to implement an immediate ceasefire as the first step towards a negotiated overall settlement. Such military action against a population already sorely tried by the conflict in Southern Sudan is unacceptable, particularly since it constitutes an inadmissible obstacle to humanitarian aid. The EU has frequently impressed on all part)es to the conflict the negative effects of their military activities and the fact that they are therefore primarily responsible for the fate of the Sudanese people. The Union stressed the major effort which the international community, including the EU, has been making for a long time to assist those sections of the population which are victims of the violence. The EU remains prepared to hold a hank dialogue with the Sudanese authorities on all the political and humanitarian concerns of the international community. K also intends to continue its talks with the factions in the south of the country in the interests of peace. The EU strongly urges the Sudanese Government and all part)es involved to make a serious effort to achieve a negotiated solution to the conflict between them. In this connection, it is fully backing the diplomatic efforts being made under the aegis of the IGADD by the four Heads of State in the region.
Statement on Namibia 22 February 1994
The European Union warmly congratulates the government and the people of Namibia on the occasion of the reintegration of the enclave of Walvis Bay into Namibia, thereby achieving its territorial integrity through peaceful negotiation and dialogue. The international community has long supported the integration of Walvis say into Namibia and the European Union is delighted to witness this historic event.
Statement on Togo 28 February 1994
The European Union welcomes the maturity shown by the Togolese people in accomplishing their civic duty by participating in large numbers in the parliamentary elections on 6 and 20 February 1994. K notes that the elections have enabled the Togolese people to express their will democratically, despite difficult institutional and political conditions, and calls upon the main parties involved to abide strictly by the results of the vote.
Statement on Nigeria and Cameroon 3 March 1994
The European Union expresses its grave concern at the skirmishes taking place in the border region between Nigeria and Cameroon. K strongly believes that there is only one way of resolving disputes, namely through peaceful settlement. To this end, the European Union urges the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon to seek a solution to the dispute, through arbitration or mediation of any regional or international organisation, and consequently to refrain from any military anion which might aggravate the situation. Recent information indicates that there is concentration of troops on one side of the frontier line and therefore the European Union requests their immediate withdrawal.
Statement on Somalia 4 March 1994
The European Union has welcomed the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution 897 and reaffirms its full support for the work of the United Nations in furtherance of its revised mandate to encourage the process of political reconciliation, rehabilitation and reconstruction in Somalia which could otherwise be jeopardised. The European Union continues to follow closely the situation in Somalia. Of particular concern is the increasing banditry and violence throughout the country which threatens the efforts of the organisations and personnel engaged in relief operations. The European Union supports the efforts by the Somalis to reorganise the Somali police as an important element in restoring order. The European Union believes that the Somali people bear the ultimate responsibility for setting up viable national political institutions. In this regard, the European Union welcomes the ongoing consultations and contacts among Somali clans and factions aimed at reaching a political settlement acceptable to all the parties concerned. Progress on political reconciliation is essential if the risk of renewed armed confrontation and further human suffering is to be avoided. In addition, the European Union commends and supports the regional organisations and countries in their efforts to expedite dialogue and negotiations among Somali leaders on the future of their country. The European Union is ready to contribute actively to the rehabilitation and reconstruction process, in accordance with the Addis Ababa Declaration, where prospects for reconciliation and security conditions make possible effective international assistance for economic and social recovery.
Statement on Liberia 22 March 1994
The European Union welcomes the establishment, on 7 March, of the Council of State. It expresses its strong wish to see the transitional government quickly established and functioning and looks forward to the implementation of other elements in the Cotonou Agreement. The European Union welcomes such substantial progress on the road to peace and stability and underlines its strong wish that the disarmament and demobilisation process be carried out in a genuine and timely fashion, paving the way to the electoral consultation aimed at founding the new democratic and peaceful Liberia which would enable the European Union to continue its support.
Statement on Togo 23 March 1994
The European Union notes with satisfaction the announcement of the results of the parliamentary elections in Togo, which strictly respects the votes cast and democratic rules. The time has come for the people of Togo to commit themselves to national reconciliation and respect for the institutions, development and economic revival of their country. The European Union expresses the wish that the next stages in the reinstatement of Togo's democratic institutions will take place peacefully and it calls on the principal participants to continue in this way with the meeting of the elected National Assembly and the establishment of a government representing the choice of the Togolese people.
Statement on Burundi 25 March 1994
The European Union notes that the situation is deteriorating in Bujumbura, where repeated confrontations between civilian militias and the forces of order are causing many victims, especially among the unarmed and innocent people of the two ethnic groups. The European Union condemns this violence which, sustained by extremist elements among those in power and among the members of the opposition and the forces of order, is endangering the institutions of law and order in Burundi, so patiently and courageously set up by the democratic forces of the country. The European Union appeals urgently to all members of Burundi society to end this violence and make every effort to achieve the necessary national reconciliation and the preservation of the safety of all Burundi's people under democratic law.
Statement on South Africa 7 April 1994
The European Union is deeply concerned by the continuing bloodshed in South Africa. K urges all South Africans to refrain from violence and to work together for a peaceful transition to the new South Africa. It strongly hopes that the summit of 8 April will produce a solution enabling all parties to participate in elections later in the month. As previously announced, the European Union is firmly committed to assisting the transition to democracy and remains ready to help South Africa's economic reconstruction and development after the elections.
Statement on Rwanda and Burundi 12 April 1994
The European Union is deeply concerned to learn of the tragedy which has led to the death in Kigali of the Heads of State of Rwanda and Burundi together with members of their entourage. It wants an international commission of inquiry to investigate fully the causes of the destruction of the presidential aircraft and urges all Rwandese authorities to safeguard the achievements of the Arusha Agreement. The European Union is also deeply saddened by the deaths of a number of Belgian citizens in Rwanda, both civilian and military. It strongly condemns these appalling assassinations and hopes that justice will be done as quickly as possible. The European Union appeals in the strongest terms for the lives of Rwandese and foreign nationals to be protected as they work together within Rwanda to safeguard its internal peace and its prosperity.
Statement on Rwanda 18 April 1994
The European Union notes with dismay that the widespread violence and atrocities are continuing and extending in Rwanda, where very many lives have been lost since 6 April.
The violence and the resulting chaos prompted the forced evacuation of virtually all nationals of the international community present in Rwanda. As a result of the solidarity shown by Member States, it was possible to rescue those nationals in a satisfactory manner. The European Union repeats its pressing call for Rwandese lives to be protected and urgently appeals to the opposing forces to bring the violence to an end and to resume negotiations on the basis of the principles of the Arusha Agreement. It wishes to see appropriate humanitarian action organised in response to the human tragedy unfolding in the region and undertakes to play its part in such action.