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EU aid to Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova has ’limited’ impact

16.01.2009    source:

The European Union’s aid to Ukraine, Moldova and Belarus to help fight corruption, human trafficking and smuggling has made little impact, a report issued on Thursday 15 January by the European Court of Auditors shows.

With only €166 million for 2000-2005 covering all three of the neighbouring countries, the EU projects in the area of freedom, security and justice had "limited scope", the auditors found.

Most of the funding went to Ukraine and Moldova. Aid to Belarus – which was once dubbed the last European dictatorship by Washington – has been limited due to its lack of respect for democracy and human rights.

The only clear improvement seen by the EU projects was for border management. This was also where most of the money was spent. However, the long term goal of a modern system of border management "approximating European good practice" is still a long way off, the report concludes.

In addition, the projects seemed to be used more for self-publicity by local politicians than for public benefit. "The visibility of the projects seemed to be designed for the own prestige of the officials, not for the citizens", Jacek Uczkiewicz, member of the Court of auditors, said at a press conference on Thursday.

Asylum and migration projects were the worst off, with projects facing huge delays, especially in Ukraine, Mr Uczkiewicz added.

He singled out two former military sites which the Ukrainian authorities were supposed to refurbish and equip as migrant accommodation centres for 1260 persons, with an EU contribution of €3.8 million. By the end of 2006, nothing had been done, although the planned finish date was September 2006.

In its response to the report, the European Commission explained that the delays were due to "political instability" after the 2004 Orange Revolution.

It also pointed out that in 2007, "substantial progress" was made in refurbishment works and that both migrant custody centres have started operating in accordance with European practices.

In the area of judiciary and good governance, the achievements were modest, especially in fighting corruption and adopting reformist legislation. "The Court considers that a fundamental, long term change in political will, mentalities, behaviour and attitudes is required to achieve a significant reduction in this high level of corruption," the report states.

Valentina Pop

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