HC Deb 21 May 2003 vol 405 cc840-1W
Mr. Heathcoat-Amory

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer pursuant to his Answer of 29 April 2003,Official Report, column 105W, on EU Accession Referendums, if he will list, by accession country, the funds available to support (a) the provision of information and (b) information centres; if he will list (i) the projects supported over the past 12 months and (ii) the projects to be supported in the immediate future; what publications have been supported; and if he will make a statement on the nature of scrutiny by the Government of compliance with guidelines on impartiality with regard to the services and funding provided. [114467]

John Healey

Commission funding for information and information centres concerning accession and the EU comes from the PHARE1 pre-accession programme for accession states and candidate countries, as well as from the separate pre-accession programmes for Turkey, Malta and Cyprus. Commission funding is also available from the Priority Information Programme for European Citizens (PRINCE) in the case of existing member states. According to Commission figures, the financial commitments for centralised and decentralised programmes can be summarised as follows (in millions of Euros):

Decentralised funds 2001 2002 20031
Slovakia 0.65 0.66
Slovenia 0.72 0.87
Hungary 1.00 1.17
Czech Republic 0.90 1.10
Latvia 0.67 0.55
Lithuania 0.68 0.70
Decentralised funds 2001 2002 20031
Estonia 0.61 0.56
Poland 1.56 1.70
Cyprus 0.20 0.20
Malta 0.20 0.20
Romania 0.85 0.95
Bulgaria 0.55 0.62
Turkey 0.60 0.70
Total 9.19 9.98 11.5
PRINCE 5.4 9.75 13.0
Centralised funds
PHARE regulation 2.50 2.50 2.50
PRINCE 1.20 2.20 2.20
Total 3.70 4.70 4.70
Centralised and decentralised funds
Total 18.29 24.43 29.2
1 an individual country breakdown is not currently available for 2003

The Commission does not publish figures which distinguish between spending on general information and funding for information centres. 1PHARE originally stood for 'Poland and Hungary Assistance for Restructuring the Economy'—however, this programme has since been expanded beyond the two original participants to cover all of the Candidate Countries.

The Information and Communication Programme is a unified programme which does not split into individual projects. The publications produced are of a general nature and explain the implications of EU membership. Further information concerning details of the Commission's communication strategy, including publications and information on current and future projects, can be found on the Commission's Enlargement website at: europa.eu.int/comm/enlargement/communication/index.htm.

The Commission's May 2002 Communication Strategy for Enlargement sets out general guidelines for its information activities. These guidelines include a commitment that "… The emphasis [of the Communication strategy] will be on providing objective information, with the Commission eschewing any messages which could be misconstrued as 'propaganda'. It is the Commission's responsibility to manage specific programmes and ensure that activities, including those of its delegations, conform with agreed programme guidelines. In addition, all Commission employees and representatives are bound by a "Code of Good Administrative Behaviour", and any citizen who considers they have not been treated according to this code has the right to make a complaint.

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