Parliamentary question by Marco Cappato (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

Parliamentary questions
by Marco Cappato (TDI) to the Commission
(18 January 2000)

Subject: EU lump-sum contribution to the UNDCP

The UNDCP (United Nations Drug Control Programme) is involved in carrying out projects to eradicate and replace opium cultivation in Afghanistan and in other South-East Asian States. In its reply to Question 68 (H-0558/99) the Commission states, "The Community is aware that alternatives to opium production are normally not competitive economically mldr The Taliban have a direct interest in the opium and heroin trade and have tried to link it with international recognition. The Commission has therefore not financed any UNDCP alternative crop development programmes in Afghanistan either prior to, or since, the emergence of the Taliban movement." The European Union supports the UNDCP, however, through an annual lump-sum contribution entered against the budget line "North-south cooperation schemes in the context of the campaign against drug abuse". While the Union does not fund the UNDCP programmes in Afghanistan directly, it supports their implementation indirectly, through its lump-sum contribution.

Does the Commission know how the UNDCP uses that Community lump-sum funding? Since it deems direct funding of opium eradication and substitution programmes in Afghanistan inappropriate and ineffective, has the Commission asked the UNDCP not to use the Community funding that it receives annually for such programmes? Has the Commission asked the UNDCP to suspend the programmes in question? If so, when and how? If not, does it intend to do so in future?

Answer given by Mr Patten
on behalf of the Commission
(1 February 2000)

Although the Commission was the third largest donor to the United Nations drug control programme (UNDCP) in 1999, the Commission does not provide it with general purpose funding as suggested by the Honourable Member. The financial regulations of the Community prohibit the provision of general purpose funding and restrict the funding of activities of United Nations organisations, funds and programmes to activities related to concrete projects. As stated in the Commission's response to the Honourable Member's Oral Question on this subject H-558/99n during question time at Parliament's November 1999 part-session(1) during the period in question the Commission did not fund any UNDCP projects for eradication of illicit cultures or alternative development in Afghanistan.