UK Premier David Cameron says Britain will support economic reform and good governance in at least five eastern neighbourhood and Balkan countries. Speaking in Brussels on Friday at the EU summit of heads of state, he said the UK would be launching a new multi-year programme to provide expert advice, training and assistance to the governments of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The so-called Good Governance Fund will provide an estimated 20 million euros in the first year (2015/16) to help these countries as they carry out political and economic reforms.
This includes financial support the UK Department for International Development (DFID) has already committed to support reform in Ukraine.
Outlining the importance of the Fund, Cameron said,” Ensuring we have strong partners on the EU’s border is not only essential for Britain’s security but our long term prosperity. UK expertise can play a crucial role in bringing about the reforms needed to build lasting stability in the region, especially in the face of Russian intimidation, and it is right we that we step up our efforts alongside international partners.”
The new fund will support activities such as strengthening the rule of law and democratic accountability as well as reforming police and justice systems, plus the liberalisation and modernisation of key sectors such as energy and banking and the reform of tax systems.
It will also go towards improvements to the business environment, a reduction of red tape to generate foreign investment and help private sector entrepreneurs to drive exports.
The comments by Cameron are echoed by Justine Greening, the UK International Development Secretary, who said,”A stronger, more democratic and more successful eastern neighbourhood is in all our interests.
“That is why we will provide targeted assistance to help these countries make tough but necessary reforms to help strengthen their economies, fight corruption and better serve their people.”
Further comment on the same issue came from British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond who, speaking at the same summit, said that recent events had brought into “sharp focus” the challenges faced by the eastern neighbours of Europe
He said, “We all have a stake in their stability, resilience and prosperity.This new Fund will support the efforts of our neighbours to reform their governance, economies and societies. And, in doing so, Britain is helping to build Europe’s security and prosperity in the 21st century.”
By Martin Banks