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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.
25. 2. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 60/81

The advantages of open information networks are incontestable, but clear ground-rules should be laid down
concerning the input of information in order to facilitate supervision with a view to protecting Internet users.
What will the Commission do to develop a more effective preliminary screening system in order to prevent
damaging information from being placed on the Internet and to call to account more effectively those who
disseminate such information or attempt to do so?

Answer given by Mr Bangemann on behalf of the Commission


(31 July 1997)

The Honourable Member is referred to the Commission’s answers to recent written questions to this topic, in
particular P-572/97 by Mrs Plooij-van Gorsel (1), E-3041/96 by Mr Kaklamanis (2), P-2792/96 by Mr Hallam (3),
E-2663/96 by Mr Amadeo (4), E-2550/96 by Mr Amadeo (5), P-2479/96 by Mrs Plooij-van Gorsel (6), P-2458/96
by Mrs Crepaz (7).

The Commission is actively pursuing these issues. The Honourable Member is, in particular, referred to the
communication on illegal and harmful content on the Internet (8) and the green paper on the protection of minors
and human dignity in new audiovisual and information services (9), both adopted on 16 October 1996, the
working party report on illegal and harmful content on the Internet submitted to the Council held on
28 November 1996, the Council Resolution on illegal and harmful content on the Internet adopted on 17 February
1997 (10), the interim report on initiatives in Member States with respect to combating illegal and harmful content
on the Internet, submitted to the Council on 27 June 1997, the report to the Council of 30 June 1997 on the
follow-up to the green paper and the communication from the Commission of 16 April 1997 to the Council, the
Parliament, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions − A European initiative in
electronic commerce (11).

On the basis of the various analyses referred to above the Commission is currently preparing various means of
preventing the broadcasting or placing on the internet of illicit, damaging material. Examples of these are a draft
Council recommendation and an action plan on information-society networks. In addition one of the follow-ups
to the Commission's communication entitled ‘A European initiative in electronic commerce’ referred to above is
currently in preparation in the form of a communication to the Parliament, Council, Economic and Social
Committee and Committee of the Regions for the purpose of ensuring security and confidence in electronic
communications.

(1) OJ C 217, 17.7.1997.


(2) OJ C 91, 20.3.1997.
(3) OJ C 83, 14.3.1997, p. 68.
(4) OJ C 83, 14.3.1997, p. 45.
(5) OJ C 83, 14.3.1997, p. 24.
(6) OJ C 60, 26.2.1997, p. 92.
(7) OJ C 60, 26.2.1997, p. 87.
(8) COM(96) 487 final.
(9) COM(96) 483 final.
(10) OJ C 70, 6.3.1997.
(11) COM(97) 157.

(98/C 60/117) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2030/97


by Susan Waddington (PSE) to the Commission
(13 June 1997)

Subject: Information task force − actions targeted towards women

Of the total 1996 expenditure on information actions targeted at women, what amount and what percentage of
total expenditure was received by each of the fifteen Member States?

Answer given by Mr Oreja on behalf of the Commission


(30 July 1997)

The total expenditure on information actions targeted at women in 1996 was ECU 1 579 367. ECU 1 420 862
(89,96%) were spent on the financing of central activities benefiting all Member States, and therefore it is
impossible to calculate individual spending for each Member State.