Parliamentary question by Marco Cappato (NI) to to the Council and answer

Parliamentary questions
by Marco Cappato (NI) to the Council
(19 December 2002)

Subject: Union support for the government of Sudan

During its visit to Sudan on 9 and 10 December 2002 a delegation from the European Troika signed an agreement with the Sudanese Government authorising the use of initial funding to support the Khartoum government in the technical preparation of the cooperation programmes which will resume when a definitive peace agreement is signed.

All this is happening a few weeks after the end of the second session of peace talks between the Khartoum government and the forces of the Sudanese people's liberation army, which were inconclusive because of the decision by the el-Bashir government to oppose the demands of the rebel forces, namely the appointment of the first Vice-President of the Republic from the south of the country, a fair distribution of the revenue from the exploitation of petroleum and the secularisation of the city of Khartoum.

During the visit press sources indicated that the Sudanese Government claims that at the beginning of 2002 it received an official note in which the European Union undertook to resume development cooperation with support worth EUR 155 million, to be granted on the basis of the Cotonou Agreements of June 2000.

In view of the role played by the Khartoum Government in the partial collapse of the second session of peace talks, on what basis did the Council consider that it should suspend the ban on any economic, financial and political support to the el-Bashir regime?

What amount of funding has been made available for the technical preparation of the cooperation programmes on the basis of the agreement initialled with the Sudanese authorities?

Can the Council confirm the existence or otherwise of a Union document on the basis of which the Union undertook to grant EUR 155 million to the Khartoum government?

Joint answer to Written Questions target=_top>E-3892/02 and target=_top>E-0077/03
(13 May 2003)

Following the European Union's decision to initiate a renewed political dialogue with the Government of Sudan (GoS) in 1999, annual high-level meetings have taken place in Khartoum. The objective of the annual meetings is to assess the progress in the areas of the dialogue (human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the peace process). The outcome of these discussions is reflected in a joint communiqué of 10 December 2002.

The Council conclusions of 17 June 2002 clearly state that achieving progress in the peace process remains the priority for the EU. However, the GoS will have to demonstrate progress on all benchmarks of the political dialogue as a condition for the normalisation of relations with Sudan. On that basis and against the benchmarks established in 2001, the EU troika in December 2002 assessed the progress made during 2002.

The resumption of development cooperation with support worth EUR 155 million as mentioned by the Honourable Member of Parliament refers to the EU commitment undertaken in 2001, in particular to notify to Sudan in 2002 of the preparation of the Country Strategy Paper (CSP) with the indicated volume of aid. However, the signature of the CSP will only take place when a peace agreement is signed. Hence, none of that money has been disbursed so far. The Commission will pursue the procedures for a final decision (together with Member States in the EDF Committee) on the disbursement of that amount when this requirement has been met.

The EU takes advantage of any occasion to urge Sudan to improve its human rights record, in particular regarding the death penalty and torture. It continues to put pressure on the GoS to finalise the ratification procedure of the Convention Against Torture. Unfortunately, the issues of corporal punishment and the death sentence remain difficult in the dialogue with the GoS. Given the wider implications of these specific issues, the EU, at this stage, is also trying to put pressure on Sudan within the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

The EU continues to support the peace process and is convinced that the peace agreement would facilitate further progress in respect for human rights. The latest round of talks ended on 5 February and the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed by both sides indicate agreement on some important issues. The next round will address details on power and wealth-sharing, amongst other issues.