Development Cooperation Policy Plan for 2005
During the last 12 years since the beginning of the transition process to a market economy, Latvia has accumulated considerable experience that is unique and that can be viewed as Latvia's advantage in contrast to current donor countries, which lack such experience. Latvia has already begun to share its rich experience with countries near and far. So far, experts from Latvia have provided assistance with regard to the pension reform and the social protection system, the municipal financial system, environmental protection, customs, the application of information technologies and management systems, as well as issues of energy and transport statistics. Latvia's transition period experience should be taken into account in planning further development cooperation activities for those countries that lag behind Latvia in their reform process.
In compliance with Order No. 107 of the Cabinet of Ministers, "On Basic Guidelines for the Development Cooperation Policy of the Republic of Latvia", approved on 19.02.03, as well as subsequent amendments, the following areas of activity have been identified for achieving the objectives and outcomes of the cooperation development policy:
- participation of Latvia in the EU development policy;
- bilateral cooperation with developing countries, as well as countries that are in the transition period from a planned economy to a free market economy;
- cooperation with third countries – active implementers of the development policy;
- participation in activities, programmes and policies of international organisations, as well as cooperation in implementing humanitarian aid programmes;
- public information campaigns and informative activities focusing on objectives and priorities of the Development Cooperation Policy.
Taking into consideration the fact that:
1) at present the participation of Latvia in the EU development policy – the representation of Latvia's priorities and interests in the working groups and committees of the EU Council of Ministers – is organised in compliance with the Regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers of 3 June 2003 "On the Temporary Procedure for the Coordination of the Formulation, Approval and Representation of Latvia's National Position on European Union Issues", and positions are formulated on each topical issue and subsequently approved by the Cabinet of Ministers;
2) until a bilateral policy is formulated and the specific interests of Latvia are developed, it is not possible to formulate and implement a specific policy on development cooperation issues involving international organisations and their programmes nor to fully participate in the development policy of the EU,
the Development Cooperation Policy Plan for 2005 (hereinafter – the Plan for 2005) identifies the following priorities: the beginning of bilateral and trilateral cooperation projects, as well as public information activities focusing on the objectives and priorities of the Plan for 2005 and on activities in Latvia for developing civic awareness and popular support to ensure the successful development and implementation of the Plan for 2005.
On the whole, the Development Cooperation Policy is a new concept for both public administration and society at large; therefore, in 2005 and in subsequent years, along with the areas of activity listed in the Basic Guidelines, considerable attention will be devoted to researching potential recipient countries that Latvia could support with its assistance and to developing the judicial basis and administrative capacity.
Assistance in crisis situations and humanitarian aid are not included among the bilateral Development Cooperation priorities for 2005.
The Plan for 2005 is the first step in starting a programme of bilateral development cooperation projects to ensure in the near future the fulfilment of Latvia's commitments as a European Union (hereinafter – EU) member state, which are included in the EU Barcelona Council Declaration – namely, to increase funding for development cooperation aims while fulfilling Latvia's obligations to ensure a mutually complementary character of its Development Cooperation Policy with assistance provided by the Community and other EU member states
The Plan for 2005 has been formulated for the priority region (established by Basic Guidelines, approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on 17 February 2003) – the CIS and the Balkan countries. Georgia, Moldova, the Ukraine and Uzbekistan are identified as priorities, in view of the contacts that have developed to date, the foreign policy direction of these countries, the presence of Latvian embassies in these countries, as well as other factors. It is also in the interests of Latvia to promote cooperation with Belarus; however, at present cooperation may be undertaken only in specific areas, such as the promotion of a democratic and civic society, cargo transport, environmental protection, etc. A significant element in the formulation of the Plan for 2005 is the EU New Neighbours policy, which partly encompasses this priority region of Latvia —specifically, the Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Belarus.
1. Objectives of development cooperation and areas of activity
1.1. Priority objectives:
1.1.1. The following priority areas have been identified for bilateral and trilateral cooperation in Development Cooperation projects in 2005:
- promotion of a democratic and civic society;
- promotion of the development of the national economy;
- support for the process of reforming public administration, local government and defence systems;
- environmental protection;
- education, social development, health;
- interior affairs and justice.
1.1.2. Other objectives for Development Cooperation in 2005:
- funding of research on issues of development cooperation and the New Neighbours Initiative in the CIS;
- communication activities, dissemination of information.
1.1.3. The experience of Latvia and the normative basis for the formulation of Development Cooperation policy and project administration are only at the initial stage of development. Therefore, developing the legal basis, strengthening the administrative capacity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and establishing a consolidated system for the Development Cooperation Policy should be included among priority objectives for 2005.
1.2. Activity areas for the achievement of objectives:
1.2.1. for bilateral and trilateral cooperation:
- support to projects of the state, local governments, the private sector and non-governmental organisations (hereinafter – NGOs) in the priority areas listed in Paragraph 1.1.1;
- funding of Latvian experts at the request of other countries for sharing the experience gained by Latvia during the transition process and providing consultations on the implementation of reforms;
- developing the legal basis for the Development Cooperation of Latvia and enlarging the administrative capacity of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
1.2.2. for research studies, communication activities and dissemination of information:
- support to research projects and the commissioning of research studies on issues of development cooperation and the New Neighbours Initiative;
- public information activities, public opinion research;
- participation in public information activities organised by other agencies and NGOs aimed at forming public opinion about Development Cooperation, support ways to disseminate information.
2. Activities for achieving the identified objectives and tasks
2.1.for bilateral and trilateral cooperation:
2.1.1. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs begins a grant programme to support public, municipal, private sector and NGO projects:
- the Ministry of Foreign Affairs drafts amendments and new legislative acts, as necessary, to ensure efficient functioning of development cooperation projects;
- the Ministry of Foreign Affairs establishes a Project Implementation Unit/Secretariat for the administrative management of development cooperation programmes and approves the Development Cooperation Council (hereinafter – the Council);
- by February 2005 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs formulates and approves guidelines for the grant programme;
- by February 2005 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs formulates and approves guidelines for the project tender and announces the project tender; the Council may take a decision on a repeated or additional tender if necessary;
- the Ministry of Foreign Affairs establishes Assessment Committees for assessing project applications and invites necessary experts whenever possible;
- the Ministry of Foreign Affairs exercises project supervision;
- assessments are drawn up for each project and are used in drawing up the progress report of the Cabinet of Ministers (see Paragraph 6).
2.1.2. the financing of Latvian experts in technical assistance projects:
- the Ministry of Foreign Affairs holds regular consultations with governments of countries listed as priorities concerning their interest in receiving Latvian expertise and assistance and the areas where assistance is required;
- upon receipt of the recipient country's request, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs organises and finances a pilot project study with the aim of formulating terms of reference for the technical assistance project;
- after the pilot project study/the formulation of terms of reference and the selection of experts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs finances the technical assistance project, and an evaluation is drawn up after its completion.
2.2. for research studies, communication activities and dissemination of information:
2.2.1. the Council takes a decision on supporting research projects and the commissioning of research studies on issues of development cooperation and the New Neighbours Initiative;
2.2.2. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approves the Communication Strategy on matters of development cooperation and, if necessary, conducts a public opinion poll; on the basis of the results of the public opinion poll, the communication strategy and topicalities of the Development Cooperation Policy, the Council takes a decision on public information activities that are organised according to the procedure prescribed by legislation;
2.2.3. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs cooperates with other agencies and NGOs in forming public opinion, developing capacity and supporting dissemination of information. The Council decides on the allocation of funding.
3. Projected outcomes
3.1. Projected outcomes:
3.1.1. By starting and developing bilateral and trilateral cooperation in the area of providing assistance to developing countries, Latvia will ensure a more successful representation of its interests in the given countries by developing advantageous cooperation in economy, science and culture and will promote the strengthening of regional security, etc. At same time, groundwork will be laid for presenting Latvia as a country of successful reforms and as a provider of assistance to other countries.
3.1.2. the financing of research studies, communication activities and dissemination of information:
- the financing of research studies on issues of development cooperation and the New Neighbours Initiative will stimulate a more profound understanding about the needs and problems of potential recipient countries, and this information will be used in formulating development cooperation programmes;
- communication activities will stimulate the informing of society at large about the principles of the Development Cooperation Policy and about Latvia's activities, promote the informing of NGOs in Latvia and stimulate their involvement in issues pertaining to Latvia's Development Cooperation Policy, including the participation of NGOs in formulating this Policy;
- will promote the participation of NGOs from Latvia in international projects and will provide consultative assistance for the participation of Latvia's NGOs in international projects.
3.1.3. Latvia has already provided and is continuing to provide assistance in development cooperation. However, the assistance provided by Latvia to date has been uncoordinated; it has not been planned and coordinated with foreign policy aims. The improvement of the legal basis and the administrative capacity, as well as the establishment of a consolidated system, will create the prerequisites for more efficient organisation of work and provision of assistance – for the achievement of Latvia's foreign policy goals.
4. Required additional funding
At present no funding has been allocated for the implementation of the Plan for 2005. In order to ensure the coordinated, planned provision of assistance to developing and transition economy countries that would be based on foreign policy priorities, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must formulate a budgetary programme for development cooperation and New Neighbours Initiative projects, with an additional funding budget for 2005 totalling LVL 250,000.00. This programme will be submitted for review by the Cabinet of Ministers as part of the budget allocation request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and approved by the law "On the National Budget for 2005". If no additional funding is allocated, it will not be possible to implement the Plan for 2005.
Here is an indicative budgetary scheme for development cooperation and New Neighbours policy projects (the Council decides on the distribution of the budget and on any amendments to the budget):
Total LVL 250,000, of which:
- LVL 10,000 is earmarked for communication activities and dissemination of information
- LVL 25,000 for funding research studies
- LVL 140,000 for the grant programme
- LVL 75,000 for the programme of technical assistance projects, including:
- LVL 8,000 for a pilot project study
- LVL 67,000 for technical assistance.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the institution responsible for implementation of the Plan for 2005.
6. Reporting procedure
In compliance with Clause 3.3 of Order No. 107 of the Cabinet of Ministers " On Basic Guidelines for the Development Cooperation Policy of the Republic of Latvia", approved on 19.02.03, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs must submit by 1 April 2006 a progress report on implementing the Plan in 2005.
 At the Barcelona Council, the EU member states came forward with a declaration whereby they undertook to increase the funding earmarked for development cooperation, so that by 2006 each member state would contribute an average of 0.39% of GDP, and each member state individually would provide at least 0.33% of GDP. This Declaration should be considered as the so-called "soft acquis", and it is also binding on the new EU member states.