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17. 3.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 82/13

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(11 September 1997)

On 11 June 1996, the Commission introduced measures to ensure the safety of gelatine produced in the United
Kingdom. These measures included the setting of minimum processing standards, the exclusion from raw
material of any tissues categorised as high risk and the setting of pre-conditions to be fulfilled before exports
could take place.

The scientific basis for the minimum standards, however, has been found to be flawed and, therefore, the
Commission has not taken the steps necessary to permit the export of gelatine from the United Kingdom if
produced from raw materials derived from bovine animals slaughtered in the United Kingdom. However, all
gelatine produced in the United Kingdom for food, feed, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products is now produced
from raw materials derived from outside the United Kingdom. Inspections have taken place to ensure traceability
of the gelatine to the Member State of origin. Additional legislation is being considered.

The results of the Commission inspections carried out at the end of 1996 have clearly indicated that no Member
State may be considered to be free from the risk from transmissible spongiform encephalopathies. On these
grounds, therefore, the Commission has presented again a proposal for the removal of high risk material to the
Member States within the standing veterinary committee on 16 July 1997. As this did not receive the required
majority, the measures laid down in the draft were submitted as a proposal for a Council decision on 17 July (1) in
accordance with the regulatory committee procedure. Following discussion in the Council the Commission
accepted certain amendments but the Council did not adopt the proposal and indicated that it would not
re-discuss it within the next 15 days. In consequence the Commission adopted the measures in conformity with
the regulatory committee procedure on 30 July 1997 (2).

(1) COM(97) 419 final.

(2) OJ L 216, 8.8.1997.

(98/C 82/17) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1621/97

by Eva Kjer Hansen (ELDR) to the Council
(14 May 1997)

Subject: Minority rights

Is it reasonable that the Union requires more from the future Member States from Eastern Europe, when it comes
to the protection of minority rights, when the Union has made no legislative effort in that field for the minority
groups within the Union?

Does the Council plan any legislative measures for the protection of minority groups in the Union?

(17 October 1997)

The specific question to which the Honourable Member refers does not fall within Community competence.

However, the Council recalls that Article F(2) of the Treaty on European Union states that the Union shall respect
fundamental rights, as guaranteed by the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and
Fundamental Freedoms signed in Rome on 4 November 1950 and as they result from the constitutional traditions
common to the Member States, as general principles of Community law.

Furthermore, attention is drawn to the Resolution of the Council and the Ministers of Education, meeting within
the Council, of 22 May 1989 on school provision for gypsy and travellers children (1), to the Joint Action of
C 82/14 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 17. 3. 98

15 July 1996 adopted by the Council on the basis of Article K.3 of the Treaty on European Union, concerning
action to combat racism and xenophobia (2) and to the Council Regulation (EC) No 1035/97 of 2 June 1997
establishing a European monitoring centre on racism and xenphobia (3).

(1) OJ C 153, 21.6.1989, p.3.

(2) OJ L 185, 24.7.1996, p.5.
(3) OJ L 151, 10.6.1997, p.1.

(98/C 82/18) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1636/97

by Doeke Eisma (ELDR) to the Council
(14 May 1997)

Subject: Portugal’s initiative on legalizing drugs

With regard to Portugal’s initiative for an international convention to legalise the use of drugs,
1. Has the Council taken note of this initiative?
2. What is the Council’s view of this proposal? Does the Council share the view that there is a need for an
international convention legalizing the use of drugs?
3. Can the Council provide precise details of the proposals by President Sampaio of Portugal and the President
of the Portuguese Parliament, Almeida Santos?

(16 October 1997)

The Council is not in possession of the alleged proposals of the Portuguese President and the President of the
Portuguese Parliament.

(98/C 82/19) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1722/97

by Ana Palacio Vallelersundi (PPE) to the Council
(22 May 1997)

Subject: Public access to Council documents

According to recent press reports, the Council has sent a reply to the Ombudsman in connection with an alleged
case of maladministration reported by a Mr Bunyan, a journalist, relating to the application of Decision
93/371/EEC (1) on public access to Council documents. The Council apparently believes that, since the
documents in question pertain purely to Title VI of the Treaty on European Union, the Ombudsman has no
powers to investigate the complaint. As this is a matter of interest to the European Parliament, could the Council
forward to me a copy of its reply to the Ombudsman?

(1) OJ L 340, 31.12.1993, p. 43, as last amended by Decision 96/705 (OJ L 325, 14.12.1996, p. 19).

(98/C 82/20) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1813/97

by Freddy Blak (PSE) to the Council
(29 May 1997)

Subject: Ombudsman

The Guardian of 24 March 1997 reported that the Council of Ministers had decided that the European
Ombudsman should not deal with matters coming under the third pillar.