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Parliamentary questions
14 September 2018
E-003825/2018
Answer given by Mr Mimica on behalf of the European Commission

The European Commission has supported Virunga and Salonga national parks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 1988 and 2004 respectively.

The 11th European Development Fund National Indicative Programme signed with the DRC gives priority to promoting the environment and sustainable agriculture around five protected areas of outstanding value (including the two parks in question), EUR 120 million having been allocated to this project to date.

The EU’s strategy is to protect and develop the unique environmental resources of these two World Heritage sites, among other things by supporting the development of a green economy (clean energy, agriculture) for the local population. This sustainable alternative to oil drilling is a strong argument put to the Congolese authorities for the conservation of nature within a context of extreme poverty and weak governance.

Following the Congolese Government’s announcement regarding the establishment of a commission that will look into the possibility of drilling for oil in these two parks, the EU has intensified diplomatic efforts vis-à-vis its partners and the DRC authorities.

At the instigation of the EU, a joint letter (from the EU, the United States, Canada and Switzerland) regarding this matter was sent to the Congolese Prime Minister on 21 June 2018, recalling the common commitments made as regards preserving the environment and fighting climate change and noting the incompatibility of oil prospecting and drilling with the parks’ Unesco World Heritage site status.

In addition, a number of informal discussions have taken place. The Commission intends to follow this issue closely, while continuing its diplomatic efforts in close cooperation with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Last updated: 14 September 2018Legal notice