TIM BANCROFT-HINCHEY: EUROPEAN UNION LINKS AID TO GOOD GOVERNMENT

IN AN ATTEMPT TO FORCE REGIMES OF COUNTRIES IN A STATE OF CONFLICT TO NEGOTIATE PEACE TREATIES, THE EUROPEAN UNION PRESENTS A DOCUMENT LINKING AID PROGRAMMES TO RULES OF GOOD GOVERNMENT FOR ACP (AFRICA, CARIBBEAN AND PACIFIC) COUNTRIES The law presented by a Belgian Member of the European Parliament, Johan Van Hecke, refers to the “destabilising” civil war in Angola between Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA and the ruling party, MPLA, led by Jose Eduardo dos Santos, which has been continuing, between brief truces, since 1975. The document stated that the level of cooperation from the EU to Angola should depend directly on “good government, respect of human rights, democracy and a State of Law”. It goes on to suggest that by offering financial aid to countries at war, the EU prolongs conflicts because that aid is often used to buy arms. The law, which was debated yesterday in the European parliament in Strasburg, stipulates maximum limits for military expenses in ACP countries and lays down judicial sanctions against infractors, such as refusal to supply visas, freezing or confiscation of property and limitation of military cooperation. Finally, it states that military personnel should not be involved in humanitarian aid programmes. The idea is basically that those countries which choose the path of peaceful democracy will be rewarded with aid programmes and those which misbehave, in the eyes of the international community, will be punished, making it harder for totalitarian regimes to exist. Whether in practice this will be the case remains for history to say.

Tim Bancroft-Hinchey Lisbon