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Sapard seminar "should help to overcome unnecessary delays in the accreditation process"

Brussels, 19 July 2001

Representatives from the Sapard agencies of each of the 10 applicant countries today met in Tartu, Estonia to exchange their views on "Aspects of Programme management, implementation and delivery". Stressing the importance of the event, Franz Fischler, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development and Fisheries said, "I can think of no better way to help those countries which have still to achieve the conferral of management for their Sapard funds than by providing a forum for the exchange of experience on this important subject". In view of the recent accreditation of both the Estonian and Bulgarian Sapard agencies he added that, "the timing of this conference has been deliberate, coming as it does just after the conferral of [these] two management decisions. It is my expectation that the other countries should be able to apply the lessons arising from these cases where the Commission has accepted their respective agencies for a series of measures".

Applicant countries can only receive conferral of management responsibility once they have achieved regulatory conditions in line with the provisions of the bilateral agreements between the Community and each beneficiary country. Recognising the considerable efforts that have already been made in building up the respective Sapard agencies, Mr. Fischler paid particular tribute to Estonia, which has recently received the Commission go-ahead to implement its €12.1 million Sapard programme, for hosting the seminar. The timing of the event, which is a Commission initiative, will help those applicant countries yet to receive conferral of management to benefit from the lessons learned in Estonia and Bulgaria. It was attended by over 70 representatives from the applicant countries and is hoped to accelerate the accreditation process.

Objectives

The main focus of this seminar is:

  • to allow representatives of the Sapard Agencies and other relevant officials to come together to exchange views on their experience of the accreditation process;
  • to provide a forum for the lessons arising from those countries which have already received conferral of management, namely Bulgaria and Estonia;
  • to provide feedback to the Commission's services on the process leading up to the conferral of management.

The event is being supported under Article 7 (4) of Council Regulation (EC) No 1268/1999, following a Commission Decision which allows for the covering of such costs under technical assistance. The seminar represents the first use of such funds under Sapard.

Background

The Sapard programme is the first time in the history of the EU that external aid will be managed on a fully decentralised basis, requiring enormous legislative and administrative efforts on both sides. Due to this unorthodox process, there are quite a number of steps to be accomplished - the establishment of the legal framework, the adoption of programmes, the conclusion of bilateral Financing Agreements with the EU, setting-up and accreditation of Sapard agencies.

In its recent Sapard Annual Report the Commission acknowledged the enormous efforts made by the applicant countries in working towards their accreditation. In the period leading up to accession, the work achieved by the candidate countries under Sapard will be of "inestimable value", the report says, "once the countries become Member States".

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