NEWS: PPU paves the way to the EU for Eastern bloc states

The UK government has appointed the Public Policy Unit to help ten eastern European states prepare for European Union membership.

The UK government has appointed the Public Policy Unit to help ten

eastern European states prepare for European Union membership.



Public affairs agency PPU was appointed without a pitch by the Foreign

Office’s Know How Fund. This was set up by the UK government in 1989 to

give advice and practical support to east European states in their

transition from communism to democracy.



Charles Miller, a PPU director, said the agency would offer advice to

ministers and civil servants from the ten countries, in areas such as

the EU legislative process; the implications of assimilating EU laws

into national constitutions and, more generally, on ‘how to make

Brussels rules work for you’.



‘Inevitably the countries are at a different state of readiness for

membership,’ said Miller. ‘It is not just a matter of assimilating EU

legislation within their own systems. Those states with weaker economies

will need longer transitional periods.’



Miller said another key issue faced by civil servants and government

officials in post-communist countries was the transition from state-run

to privatised industry.



He said the PPU programme had already kicked off with a special seminar

for the Hungarian Ministry of Industry, and several courses for cross

lateral groups.



Miller, who stressed the PPU’s appointment was an example of how

lobbying firms were diversifying, said he anticipated that the agency

would in future win work from Phare, the European Commission programme

which assists east European states in their bid to join the EU.



The ten countries involved in the PPU programme are: Lithuania, Latvia,

Estonia, Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia,

Bulgaria and Rumania.



All ten hope to obtain EU membership by around the year 2000.



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