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25. 2.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 60/79

(98/C 60/115) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2054/97

by John Iversen (PSE) to the Commission

(16 June 1997)

Subject: Pesticides

Cheminova, a large Danish company which produces pesticides has in the last couple of weeks been accused of
selling to countries outside the EU pesticides which have not been authorized in the EU. The pesticides are used
for instance in Central America, where a Danish documentary showed that farm workers were becoming ill and
dying after coming into contact with them.

Does the Commission take the view that there should be a ban on exports of pesticides to non-member countries
if they are not authorized in the EU?

Does it consider that product liability should be introduced so that producers may be held liable for the effects
which such substances might have on the environment and human health?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-2013/97 and E-2054/97
given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission

(7 August 1997)

The Commission does not intend to take steps to introduce a ban on exporting outside the Community poisonous
sprays or other dangerous chemicals which are not authorized in the Community.

International fora (United Nations environment programme (UNEP), Food and agriculture organisation (FAO),
Organisation for economic co-operation and development (OECD)) have discussed for many years the issue of
exports of dangerous chemicals domestically banned for marketing and use in order to protect health and the
environment of other countries. The outcome of these discussions was two international recommendations
(London guidelines for the exchange of information on chemicals in international trade, UNEP; International
code of conduct on the distribution and use of pesticides, FAO), both later amended by inclusion of the
international prior informed consent (PIC) procedure (UNEP, 1989; FAO, 1990).

The aim of those recommendations is to inform importing countries about risks and hazards of chemicals, the use
of which has been banned or severely restricted in the country of origin for health or environmental reasons. The
purpose of this kind of information is to raise risk awareness in the importing countries and thus help them
control imports of unwanted chemicals. The international PIC procedure, in fact, requests governments to take
decisions on future imports of certain dangerous chemicals on the basis of prior information on the chemical.
Decision guidance documents for PIC chemicals are prepared by FAO and UNEP and circulated in order to help
governments to assess the risks connected with the handling and use of the chemical and to make more informed
decisions about future import and use taking into account local conditions. On that basis, each country should be
able to decide if it wants to ban the import of those chemicals or to impose conditions on their use.

The Community has implemented the international recommendations by means of Council Regulation (EEC)
No 2455/92 concerning the export and import of certain dangerous chemicals (1), making the information
exchange and PIC procedure mandatory in the Community. Moreover, exporters of dangerous chemicals and
preparations are obliged to package and label their products in the same way as when they are marketed in the

Negotiations are currently taking place under the auspices of UNEP and FAO for the preparation of an
international legally binding instrument for the application of the PIC procedure. The third session of these
negotiations was held in Geneva from 26 to 30 May 1997.
C 60/80 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 25. 2. 98

Also, the establishment of a general information procedure is included in the working agenda of the committee
on trade and environment of the World trade organisation (WTO). Before this committee, the Commission has
systematically supported the view that WTO could take complementary action in this area by establishing a
notification system which could act as a safety net. In order to avoid unnecessary duplication of work and
regulatory confusion, this notification system should only apply to domestically prohibited goods not covered by
existing international agreements and to exports from WTO members which are not parties to those agreements.
Indeed, such system should be so established that WTO members are not discouraged from participating in
relevant existing and future environmental agreements.

The issue of banning or phasing out exports of domestically banned chemicals was discussed at a conference on
international trade in dangerous chemicals organized by the Commission at the initiative of the Parliament
(Brussels, 5-7 July 1995). A copy of the final report of that conference has been sent directly to the Honourable
Member and to the Parliament’s Secretariat. One of the conclusions was that existing measures respect the
sovereignty of the importing countries in deciding on their particular needs as regards imports of plant protection
products and other dangerous substances.

The Commission believes that to ensure safe handling of chemicals in developing countries or countries with
economies in transition it is important to improve chemical management in those countries. For this purpose the
Commission is financing at present several projects run by the United Nations institute for training and research
which aim to promote development of integrated pest management.

As to the liability of producers for the effects that substances, the use of which is banned within the Community,
might have on human health and the environment, it is possible that the producer, or the firm or person who
actually uses it, can already be made liable under national legislation for the negative effects of this use within the
Community because it is an infringement of existing legislation.

The Commission intends that the damage caused should also be covered by a strict liability regime under future
Community law on environmental liability on which a white paper is currently being prepared.

However, a Community regime can normally not have an extra-territorial effect, so damage caused outside the
Community would not be covered by it. The only way to reach such an effect seems to be the conclusion of an
international agreement. This is why the Commission places great hopes in the future PIC convention that should
be finalized by the end of 1997. It will be a powerful instrument in international trade to enhance better chemicals
management and safer handling and use of chemicals in developing countries.

(1) OJ L 251, 29.8.1992.

(98/C 60/116) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2024/97

by Marjo Matikainen-Kallström (PPE) to the Commission

(11 June 1997)

Subject: Use of the Internet to disseminate illegal and damaging information

The Internet has rapidly developed into an open channel for damaging information. In Finland, for instance, there
has been much discussion in recent days about problems caused by the Internet and issues of responsibility,
sparked off by incidents in which young people built bombs using instructions obtained from the Internet,
seriously endangering themselves and their surroundings. It is a short step from bomb-making instructions to
directions for making synthetic drugs, for example. Although instructions may include warnings about the
dangers of experimentation, the widest possible distribution of such information is not conducive to maintaining
and promoting public safety.