The European Commission introduced major changes at the beginning of 1993 into the EEC/Euratom programme of technical assistance for the independent States of the former Soviet Union (TACIS). These aimed to improve the quality and management of the programme. - Firstly, the Commission established "multi-annual programming" in order that TACIS programmes span several years rather than one. This permits the earlier and faster implementation of projects and ensures that the European Union's assistance keeps in step with the mid-term economic goals of the recipient governments. - Secondly, a concerted effort has been made to eliminate the backlog of projects which had built up during the first eighteen months of the TACIS programme. Multi-annual programming has enabled both the European Commission and the beneficiary countries to plan actions more carefully. The "indicative programmes" for 1993-1994 (in which the Commission now identifies priority sectors for assistance over a period of several years) will therefore concentrate on fewer sectors and on carefully targeted geographical areas. The new structure will increase the European Union's ability to put into practice its policy with regard to the newly independent Republics, rapidly turning intentions into actions, and will speed the process of establishing high-quality financial agreements which may then be converted more smoothly into concrete action in Russia and throughout the Community of Independent States (CIS). In this perspective, not only has the European Union committed the entire TACIS budget for 1993, but is also well advanced in discussions with the recipient states on their multi-annual programmes for 1994. In the first quarter of 1994 it is expected that ECU 95 million will be committed to the Central Asian and Caucasian Republics (combining 1993 and 1994 action programmes), while between April and June 1994 a further ECU 215 million will be committed to recipient countries, with the remaining TACIS programmes committed in the third quarter of the year. These are: - The programme to improve nuclear installation safety, mainly in Russia and the Ukraine (actions must be designed which specifically follow on from the existing programmes); - The Regional Programme of assistance to common economic reforms in several countries (which inevitably requires a significant period of negotiation). Under the new system, the Commission expects that some 70% of the total 1994 commitments will be made before August. This represents a considerable acceleration on previous years. Positive results have also been achieved in the effort to eliminate the backlog of projects which built up in the first stage of the TACIS programme. In the process of clearing this backlog, at the end of 1993 a total of 680 new contracts worth ECU 330 million have been implemented or are in the final process of negotiation, compared to 400 new contracts in 1992, with a value of ECU 210 million. Hence, by the end of this year, a total of ECU 540 million will actually have been disbursed on specific assistance projects arising from financial commitments made in 1991 and 1992. This concentrated effort has had a dramatic effect on the rate at which TACIS funds are paid. The total annual payment of ECU 32 million in 1992 has increased to ECU 182 million in 1993, with the rate of payment rising from a monthly average of ECU 2.2 million in 1992 to ECU 20-25 million per month during the latter half of 1993. It is expected that this rhythm shall at least be maintained through the first months of 1994, and will subsequently increase as a result of the growing number of contracts now being awarded. To sustain the new rhythm, some ECU 140 million will need to be disbursed during January-June of 1994. This represents close to 60% of the payments allocated under the 1994 TACIS budget. Further recent changes in TACIS management are targeted to increase effectiveness. These include: - The opening of new delegations in CIS Republics, together with the growing experience of the coordination units, assures more decentralized management of projects; - The creation of a special TACIS monitoring team to focus on lessons gained from past experience, and to ensure a steady rate of improvement as TACIS develops over time; - Regular meetings with the World bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other donors in order that TACIS actions dovetail with other international assistance programmes; - Concerted efforts to ensure the coordination of technical assistance provided by the European Union and by the Member States; - The provision of regular and detailed information to professional bodies, trade associations, the Member States, the European Parliament, the press, etc., as part of the drive for greater transparency introduced in the new Council Regulation on TACIS; - The introduction of "triangular aid" enabling companies from Central and Eastern Europe and parts of the Mediterranean Basin to tender for TACIS contracts. Council Regulation (EEC/Euratom) 2157/91, which provided the legal basis for the 1991 and 1992 TACIS programmes expired at the end of 1992. Notwithstanding changes in the political situation and economic policies which may occur in the States of the former Soviet, the Commission took the view that there will be a continuing need for technical assistance to the region. Therefore a new Regulation was approved by the Council on 19.7.1993 extending during 1993-1995 the Commission's mandate to plan and implement TACIS aid to the former USSR, including for the first time Mongolia. Its provisions include that Indicative Programmes will be established for each of the beneficiary states covering the three-year period, with the possibility for necessary amendment of these programmes during their application.
Georgia, Mongolia, Russia, Ukraine