Soft drugs should be legalised.
Hard drugs should be available on
The Committee on Civil Liberties adopted the report of its
chairwoman, Hedy d'ANCONA (PES, NL), on harmonisation of the
Member States' drug laws, by 17 votes to 11, with 4 abstentions, the
votes on many of the amendments being extremely close. The report,
drawn up at Parliament's initiative, contains a recommendation to the
As Mrs d'ANCONA emphasised, the aim is not to harmonise the fine
detail of the Member States' regulations on drugs but to grant
national, regional and local authorities the freedom to carry out their
own policies. She said that legislation must be take account of the
realities, as indicated in an amendment tabled by Sir Jack
STEWART-CLARK which was accepted by the committee. In
practice, it was impossible to imprison every drug addict and in any
case prison did not solve the problem of drug addiction.
The committee's recommendation calls for the right to receive
appropriate medical treatment to apply to drug addicts. It says that
Article 129 of the EC Treaty (as amended at Amsterdam), which is
the legal basis for EU public health policy, should be taken to mean
that support may be given to treatment programmes under which
hard drugs are supplied on medical prescription and subject to the
necessary checks. The EU institutions will have greater freedom of
manoeuvre after the new treaty has entered into force. The
recommendation also argues that repression should concentrate on illegal drug trafficking, while
penalties for those who are simply users of illegal drugs should be abolished.
The committee believes that the UN drug conventions of 1961, 1971 and 1988 have led to policies
in the Member States which need to be looked at carefully. It urges the Council to call, at the UN
General Assembly on Drugs to be held next June, for these conventions to be reviewed, the
consumption of illegal drugs decriminalised, the trade in cannabis and its derivatives regulated and
methadone and heroin allowed under medical prescription.
In addition, the recommendation urges the Council to make more funds available to help reduce
demand for drugs and also fund information and education measures, a harm-reduction policy and
improvements to health and care facilities for drug addicts.
The committee calls on Member States to cooperate to a greater degree over drug-related matters
at national, regional and local levels and for the powers of local and regional authorities to be
extended in accordance with the Community action programme on the prevention of drug
dependence (1996-2000). Lastly, it stresses the importance of pilot projects in urban areas aimed
at reducing demand and preventing crime, as well as the value of involving local communities in
Further information: Etienne BASSOT - tel. 284 47 41
Food law and food policy hearing: US will not dictate to eu
FOOD LAW AND FOOD POLICY HEARING: "THE US WILL NOT
DICTATE TO THE EU WHAT LEVEL OF HEALTH PROTECTION IS
Is the message that Commissioner Franz FISCHLER launched during the "farm to table" session
held on November 4th, 1997 and chaired by Mr Juan Luis COLINO SALAMANCA (EPS, E).
Mr FISCHLER was referring to the Community's appeal against the WTO Panel ruling on the use
of hormones in livestock production which was being heard in Geneva the same day. "The outcome
of this dispute will have far-reaching implications for the rights of governments to determine the
degree to which their citizens are protected form hazards in food", he said and added that the EU
had played an active role in drawing up the WTO Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary
Measures (SPS) which is at the core of the dispute. "Indeed, it explicitly states that GATT Members
are not obliged to change their level of protection. Nevertheless, the Panel has ignored this basic
principle of the SPS Agreement and is trying to impose its own opinion on the EU". The WTO Panel
even added to its opinion a statement to the effect that in countries where the use of hormone
growth promoters is permitted, meat which has been produced without, may be so labelled.
"If this is a proposal to the Community to adopt such a system, I reject it", declared Mr FISCHLER.
For further information : Maria-Grazia CAVENAGHI (284.22.39
Combating organised crime more effectively
COMBATING ORGANISED CRIME MORE EFFECTIVELY
On 4 November the Committee on Civil Liberties and Public Affairs (chairwoman: Hedy
d'ANCONA, PES, NL) adopted by a large majority the two reports by Leoluca ORLANDO
(Greens, I) endorsing the two draft Joint Actions proposed by the Council. The aim of the
Actions is to make the fight against organised crime more effective. Parliament is being
consulted in accordance with Article K.6 of the EU Treaty (consultation procedure, third pillar).
The first Joint Action seeks to make it a criminal offence to participate in a criminal organization
in the Member States of the EU, while the second seeks to establish a mechanism for evaluating
the application and implementation at national level of international undertakings in the fight
against organized crime.
The proposals for the two measures are the fruit of the work carried out by the High Level Group
appointed by the European Council in Dublin in December 1996, which drew up an action plan to
combat organized crime, containing 15 policy guidelines and 30 specific recommendations. The
Luxembourg Presidency has already worked on this document.
As regards the proposal to make it a criminal offence to participate in a criminal organization, the
committee wishes to extend the list of crimes and offences liable to legal action under criminal
law to include money-laundering and other types of financial crime. The initial recommendation
mentioned terrorism, drug trafficking and trafficking in human beings. The Council drew up a list
of the methods which help facilitate or conceal such crimes. MEPs would like to add the use of
stratagems such as enlisting the support or protection of persons associated with important
institutions to conceal or facilitate the offence. On this last point, the committee feels, it would be
best to define more precisely what constitutes a criminally liable action.
The committee also proposes that it should be possible to make natural persons in every
Member State criminally liable, so that they have to take the consequences/accept the sanctions
for the behaviour of persons for whom they are responsible. Lastly, it proposes that the EU
Court of Justice be made competent to rule, by way of advance determination, on the validity
and interpretation of the Joint Action.
As regards the second Joint Action, on a mechanism for evaluating the application and
implementation at national level of international undertakings in the fight against organized
crime, the committee believes that the Council's view of the matter, based on an
intergovernmental approach, should gradually give way to a Community-based approach, with
the aim of the bringing the third pillar within the Community ambit. It therefore advocates
strengthening the role of the Commission in the whole evaluation procedure.
In addition, to ensure maximum transparency, Parliament should be kept regularly informed, on
a six-monthly basis, of the proceedings and recommendations of the Multidisciplinary Working
Party on Organized Crime (MDW) and those of the Council.
Further information: Georgios GHIATIS - tel. 284 22 16
Commissioner Flynn calls for general mobilisation against unemployment
COMMISSIONER FLYNN CALLS FOR GENERAL MOBILISATION
Commissioner Padraig FLYNN came to the Employment and Social Affairs Committee on
Monday to discuss the latest developments in the preparation for the Employment Summit which
will be held in Luxembourg on 21-22 November. The Commissioner thanked the European
Parliament for endorsing the employment guidelines set by the Commission (see van Velzen
report, approved by the Parliament on 21 October). Representatives of ECOFIN and Ministers of
Social Affairs will now meet on 6 and 8 November to discuss the conclusions of these
According to Commissioner Flynn, the Employment Summit must come forward with a concrete
action plan. "We want the Member States to set clear targets and define how they are going to
achieve an employment rate of 65 percent and 12 million new jobs within the next five years."
The Commissioner stressed that these figures should be understood as reference points to
national measures. It is up to the Member States to decide how these goals should be reached.
The Commission guidelines comprise of four main lines of action, which are related to the long-
term and young unemployed, (background note dated 16 October). All the other guidelines are
recommendations which can be included in national plans if necessary.
According to Commissioner Flynn, a general mobilisation is necessary to solve the current
unemployment problem. Social partners should be actively involved in designing supportive
measures in order to produce new work opportunities.
After the Employment Summit, the Commission will put forward an action plan for employment in
1998. Member States will have to adopt these measures accordingly.
Further information: Eero YRJÖ-KOSKINEN - tel: 284 4896
Labour minister explains why he considers employment in spain is success
LABOUR MINISTER EXPLAINS WHY HE CONSIDERS EMPLOYMENT
REFORM IN SPAIN IS A SUCCESS
The Spanish Minister of Labour, Mr Javier ARENAS BOCANEGRA, appeared on Monday at a
meeting of the Employment and Social Affairs Committee in order to present his views on the
Spanish employment programme. The reform of the Spanish labour market, which started earlier
this year, aims at increased labour market flexibility by providing training and temporary work
opportunities to the young and long-term unemployed.
The Minister believed that the best way to maintain a decent level of social security is by
producing new jobs. Economic growth, job creation and social protection are all interconnected.
In order to achieve stable employment, the Spanish government has presented new types of
work contracts, which are made on a temporary basis, whereby social costs have been cut by
40 percent. Another advantage is that such contracts can be terminated at short notice, for
instance in case of reduced competitivity.
According to the Spanish Labour Minister, the national Parliament, the main opposition group
(the Socialists) and both sides of industry have been very responsive to the reform. During the
past six months, some 260,000 temporary contracts have been signed. For the first time in over
a decade, the Spanish unemployment rate has dropped below 20 percent.
The current achievements would not have been possible, however, without sustained economic
growth and a low level of inflation. Changes in the labour market are complementary to
macroeconomic development, the Minister stressed. Economic convergence and employment
are two sides of the same coin.
Turning to demographic changes in Spain, Mr Arenas believed that it would be difficult to
maintain the current level of social security, because people live longer but retire at an earlier
age (average retirement at age 62). As a result, the Spanish government has suggested that
those who can, should continue to work beyond the age of 65 in order to reduce the pressure
related to the payment of pensions.
Further information: Eero YRJÖ-KOSKINEN - tel: 284 4896
Schengen president-in-office sees freedom of movement as main priority
SCHENGEN PRESIDENT-IN-OFFICE SEES FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT
AS MAIN PRIORITY
On 3 November, Mr Karl SCHLÖGEL, Austrian Interior Minister and President-in-Office of the
Schengen Executive Committee, addressed the Committee on Civil Liberties and Internal Affairs
(chairwoman: Hedy d'ANCONA, PES, NL) on the Austrian Presidency's six-month work
He told the committee that Austria's chief aim was to ensure that genuine freedom of movement
for EU citizens was established. Every effort would be made to implement the Schengen
agreements in full in all the new member countries (Italy, Greece and Austria), which were
currently in a transition phase. Full membership for Italy (which had signed the agreements in
1990) had been held up for a long time because of problems due to its coastline and its
inadequate legislation on the protection of privacy. Italy had finally joined the Schengen area on
26 October and would completely abolish personal identity checks on 3 March 1998. Austria
(which had signed up in 1995) and Greece (1992) would become full members as of 1 December
1997. The minister reminded his audience that Schengen depended on mutual trust among its
The incorporation of the Schengen rules into the EU system following the Amsterdam Treaty
represented significant progress, according to Mr SCHLÖGEL. However, Several MEPs voiced
misgivings at the shortcomings of the system as far as democratic and legal scrutiny were
Mr SCHLÖGEL also pointed out that, under Article 8a of the EEC Treaty, EU citizens enjoyed
the right to move and reside freely within the European Union.
Further information: Georgios GHIATIS - tel. 284 22 16
Etienne BASSOT - tel. 284 47 41
Committee urges eu coordination for economic, fiscal and social policy
COMMITTEE URGES EU COORDINATION FOR ECONOMIC, FISCAL
AND SOCIAL POLICY
The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs, chaired by Mr Stephen HUGHES (EPS, UK),
adopted on Tuesday a draft report on the employment situation in Europe in 1997. The report
will be discussed at the next plenary meeting in Strasbourg on 18 November.
Commenting on the annual report produced by the Commission, the rapporteur, Mr Jorge
Salvador HERNANDEZ MOLLAR (EPP, E) expressed his concern at the slow rate of net job-
creation in Europe. According to the Commission, some 600,000 new jobs were created in the
Member States in 1996. Obviously, this improvement is only a drop in the ocean compared to
the 25-30 million people who are either unemployed, inactive or looking for work. As a result,
social exclusion has further increased.
In its report, the Committee calls on the Commission, the Social Affairs Council and the Member
States to focus on the rebalancing and coordination of tax policy and social security
arrangements, so that they would encourage rather than hamper job creation, and stimulate
investment in innovative SMEs (especially in the industrial, craft and trade sectors).
The Committee draws attention to the preventative nature of investment in human resources,
which helps to update workers' professional skills and contributes to the competitiveness of
firms. There is a need for an active education, training and retraining policy, which - in addition to
the basic acquisition of skills - would provide the means for lifelong vocational training and
retraining for the unemployed.
The Committee also stresses the need to adopt measures, which would prevent the existence of
tax havens and distortions of competition arising from discriminatory fiscal measures in some
regions and Member States.
The Committee reiterates the importance of comparable socio-economic indicators, which make
it possible to monitor quantitative and qualitative trends on the labour market and Member State
policies. Without such indicators, it is difficult to reflect the net job-creation rate, average working
hours, and the percentage of funding disbursed from GNP on welfare protection and active
labour market measures in the various Member States.
Finally, the Committee suggests that a system of reference criteria should be established, which
would make it possible to penalize Member States that fail to improve their employment figures
in a satisfactory way. This could be done by cutting the financial support that they receive from
the European Union.
Further information: Eero YRJÖ-KOSKINEN - tel: 284 4896
30 October - The 2nd EP-Azerbaijan Interparliamentary Meeting was held today in Brussels,
chaired by Mr Alexandros ALAVANOS (GUE-NGL, EL) chaired by the Speaker of the
Parliament, Mr Murtuz ALESKEROV.
Subjects discussed included the internal political, economic and environmental situation in
Azerbaijan as well as its relations with its neighbours.
The general framework for the relations between the EU and Azerbaijan is provided by the
Partnership and Co-operation Agreement signed in April 1996 and ratified by the EP in Marcy
1997. The Interim Agreement covering trade and economic issues has been recently signed
and is yet to be submitted to the assent procedure in the EP. The PCA will enter into force as
soon as it will have been ratified by all national parliaments of the member states.
Further information: Pekka HAKALA - Tel. 46273