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

Parliamentary questions
by Maurizio Turco (NI) to the Commission
(23 November 2001)

Subject: Outcome of the action in Afghanistan under Article 4(f) of the Council common position of 22 January 2001

On 22 January 2001 the Council adopted a common position on Afghanistan(1), Article 7 of which says that the Commission intends to direct its action towards achieving the objectives and the priorities of the common position; in Article 4(f) the Union says that, in order to help the suffering civilian population of Afghanistan, it will "ensure close coordination and complementarity to between the UN peace efforts and the aid effort, as envisaged in the strategic framework common to the international donor community and UN organisations". What practical measures did the European Commission take before the events of 11 September to meet that objective?

(1) OJ L 21, 23.1.2001, p. 1.

Joint answer given by Mr Patten
on behalf of the Commission to Written Questions
E-3220/01, E-3221/01, E-3222/01, E-3223/01, E-3224/01,E-3225/01, E-3226/01, E-3227/01, E-3228/01, E-3229/01, E-3230/01, E-3231/01,E-3232/01, E-3233/01, E-3234/01, E-3235/01, E-3236/01, E-3237/01, E-3238/01,E-3239/01, E-3240/01, E-3241/01, E-3242/01, E-3243/01, E-3244/01, E-3245/01,E-3246/01, E-3247/01, E-3248/01, E-3249/01, E-3250/01, E-3251/01 and E-3252/01

(14 January 2002)

The Commission has played a full part in all Union actions aimed at achieving the initiatives and priorities of the Union's Common Position on Afghanistan of 22 January 2001(1) (as amended).

In particular, the Commission supported the Union's Declarations on the destruction of the Bhudda statues in Bamiyan (1st March 2001) - pursuant to Article 3 of the Common Position; on the Taliban edict ordering all Hindus in Afghanistan to wear identifying marks (25 May 2001) - Article 3.

The Commission took part in Union's Troika visits to Kandahar and Faisabad to explain the terms of the Common Position to the warring factions (Articles 2, 3, 6).

A Commission expert took part in the April 2001 United Nations Drug Control programme (UNDCP) fact finding mission to Afghanistan to assess the degree of compliance with the Taliban edict forbidding opium poppy cultivation (Article 5), and in the preparation of the resulting mission report.

However, no action to prevent poppy cultivation or drug trafficking was financed in Afghanistan by the Community. On the other hand, the Community finances several actions to prevent opium/heroin trafficking from Afghanistan to the Union.

Finally, in the first nine months of 2001, the Commission, through the European Community's Humanitarian (ECHO), committed euro 22,5 million of humanitarian aid funds to support emergency actions by United Nations (UN) aid agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) inside Afghanistan and on behalf of Afghan refugees in Pakistan and Iran (Article 4). Actions in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran committed under the Commission's year 2000 budget for Aid to Uprooted People were implemented during 2001. These actions amounted to euro 16,6 million (Article 4).

Actions by ECHO, by the Aid to Uprooted People budget and the Community's food aid budget have continued post-September 11 and indeed have accelerated. The total for these three budgets for 2001 is now in excess of euro 100 million (of which ECHO euro 50 million, Food Aid euro 28,5 million, Aid to Uprooted People euro 22,5 million).

The Commission plays an active role in the Afghan Support Group and the Afghan Forum, international bodies which co-ordinate donor community activities relating to Afghanistan and the refugee populations in neighbouring countries, in the Horizontal Drugs Group of the Council and in the Dublin Group which co-ordinates efforts to eradicate trafficking in illicit drugs.

(1) OJ L 21, 23.1.2001, as amended OJ L 289, 6.11.2001.