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

by Marco Cappato (NI) to the Commission
(19 August 2002)

Subject: Report by the Contraloría de la República on the Plan Colombia

In view of the fact that the Contraloría General de la República Colombiana (Office of the Comptroller General of Colombia) has stated in its third assessment report on the Plan Colombia that:
- the anti-drugs Plan Colombia contains administrative irregularities;
- eradication by force has failed to strike a blow at drug traffickers, so much so that today 163 thousand hectares are still under illegal cultivation across the country and cultivation of the crop has outstripped its destruction, since 152 thousand hectares were burned between 2000 and 2002, and despite this coca is now being grown in areas previously dedicated to coffee production;
- the Plan Colombia is unsatisfactory from an environmental standpoint;
and since the European Union is contributing 31 million dollars to the Plan;
Does the Commission intend to take action to suspend cooperation with this Colombian anti-drugs Plan?
If not, what reforms will it propose to prevent even more European taxpayers' money from being wasted?

Answer given by Mr Patten
on behalf of the Commission

While supporting the efforts of the Colombian government to put an end to the violence that affects this country, the Union is not contributing to the so-called ‘Plan Colombia’. The Union has put forward its own support package, made public in Bogotá on 24 October 2000. At the third meeting of the Support Group for the peace process in Colombia, on 30 April 2001 in Brussels, the Member of the Commission responsible for External Relations confirmed a Community contribution of € 140 million (€ 105 million in programmable aid and € 35 million in non-programmable aid).

As described in the Commission’s Country Strategy Paper , Community assistance is focused on:
- the support of ongoing Colombian activities in the search for peace;
- targeting the roots and causes of the conflict;
- providing humanitarian assistance to the victims of the conflict.

As to whether the Union package will be kept separate from Plan Colombia, the Commission would like to reiterate its position: the Union’s reservations about some aspects of the Plan Colombia are well known to the Colombian government; furthermore, the Commission does not intend, in the framework of its aid package, to take part in any initiative with a military dimension.