Parliamentary questions 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
(22 November 2001)

Subject: Review of action taken in Afghanistan pursuant to Article 2(k) of the Council common position of 22 January 2001

Having regard to the Council common position of 22 January 2001 on Afghanistan(1);

having regard to Article 7 thereof, which states that the Commission intends to direct its action towards achieving the objectives of the common position;

having regard to Article 2(k) thereof, under which, in order to support the United Nations peace efforts, reaffirmed by UN General Assembly Resolution 203 A and B of 18 December 1998, the Union shall continue to "impress upon all those countries with influence in Afghanistan the importance the Union attaches to the early settlement of the conflict under UN auspices, and urging them to lend the UN every support";

what practical action did the Commission take prior to the events of 11 September with a view to meeting the above objective?

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

Joint answer 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 given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission
(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.