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Committee Mandates

International Development written question – answered on 16th May 2002.

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Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what the mandate of the Advisory Committee on the Special System of Assistance to traditional ACP Suppliers of Bananas is; how many times it has met over the last 12 months; what the UK representation on it is; what the annual cost of its work is to public funds; if she will list the items currently under its consideration; if she will take steps to increase its accountability and transparency to Parliament; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of Clare Short Clare Short Secretary of State, Department for International Development

Council Regulation (EC) No. 856/1999 establishes a special framework of assistance (SFA) for traditional ACP suppliers of bananas. It was adopted on 22 April 1999. The Regulation provides for financial and technical assistance to 12 ACP countries, taking account of changes in the marketing arrangements for bananas in Europe following the amendments to the import regime introduced on 1 January 1999.

A Commission decision fixing the amounts available in 1999 under the special framework of assistance for a total of 45 million euro was published on 30 September 1999. A second Commission decision was made on 18 July 2000 for the 2000 budget line (44.5 million euro).

The overall objective of this programme of assistance is to improve competitiveness of traditional ACP banana production. The Council Regulation aims to achieve this goal by funding projects designed to increase banana productivity. Funding is also available for diversification where no opportunities for sustainable increase in banana production exists. The method for calculating eligibility for funds is based upon a competitivity gap formula.

Commission Regulation (EC) No. 1609/1999 laying down the detailed rules for the implementation of the Council Regulation was adopted on 22 July 1999. Article 6 of this regulation states that the Commission will be assisted by the geographically determined committee competent for development. This role is taken by the European Development Fund Committee (EDF) sitting as the Advisory Committee on Special Systems of Assistance to traditional ACP suppliers of bananas.

In the past 12 months this committee has met once. The United Kingdom is represented by officials from the Department for International Development. As matters for consideration of this committee are always scheduled within an existing EDF Committee meeting, no additional charge to public funds is incurred in connection with attending this committee.

Together with member states, the Commission is currently conducting a review to bring existing legislation on the conduct of comitology committees into line with Council Decision 1999/468/EC, to

"simplify the requirements for the exercise of implementing powers conferred on the Commission".

As an obligation to this Decision, the commission undertook to publish an annual report on the working of committees. The first report was deposited in the Libraries of both Houses on 26 February 2002 (Com (2001) 783 Final).

As part of the review process, the UK Government have encouraged the Commission to produce and maintain an electronic database of every comitology committee, its agendas and recent actions, to be accessible through its website.

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