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C 82/140 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 17. 3.

98

Answer given by Mr Santer on behalf of the Commission


(7 October 1997)

The Commission has been anxious to adopt all possible safeguards to ensure that the sheep cloning experiment
using somatic cells in Scotland does not pave the way to ethically unacceptable practices.

In the light of opinion No 9 of the Group of Advisers on the Ethical Implications of Biotechnology, which has
been forwarded direct to the Honourable Member and Parliament's Secretariat, the Commission has taken ethical
measures based on respect for human dignity within its sphere of competence.

First, in its amended proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and the Council on the legal protection
of biotechnological inventions (1), the Commission proposes that human reproductive cloning procedures and
the procedures modifying the germ cell identity of human beings should not be patentable.

Second, in its proposal for a Council Decision concerning the fifth framework programme for research,
technological development and demonstration activities (2), the Commission reaffirms its wish to debar from
Community financing any research activities aimed at modifying the human genetic heritage or entailing the
cloning of human germ cells or embryo cells.

With respect to processes modifying the genetic identity of animals, the two Commission documents emphasise
the need to protect animal welfare and genetic diversity.

The Commission has extended the deadline for presentation of the report by the Group of Advisers on the Ethical
Implications of Biotechnology to 31 December 1997.

(1) COM(97) 446 final.


(2) COM(97) 142 final.

(98/C 82/225) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2775/97


by Marjo Matikainen-Kallström (PPE) to the Commission
(1 September 1997)

Subject: Natura 2000 and economic influences

The Natura 2000 conservation network, to be established in accordance with the habitats Directive, is causing
conflict among different interest groups in the Member States.

Can prospecting, for example, be prohibited in a Natura conservation area?

Who can give permission for a Natura area to be exploited for, say, economic reasons? Does the Commission
have the right to intervene in areas designated by Member States?

Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission


(22 September 1997)

The Natura 2000 network is implemented as required by Council Directive 92/43/EEC (‘Habitats’ Directive) (1),
Article 6 of which states that the Member States shall take measures to avoid deterioration of the natural habitats
and species within the Natura 2000 areas.

No economic activity is either authorised or prohibited per se by the Directive. All plans or projects likely to
affect a Natura 2000 area (such as mining prospecting) must be assessed by the Member State concerned
(Article 6(3) and (4)).
17. 3. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 82/141

If a Member State decides to authorise a project despite its negative impact on the conservation of a site it must
inform the Commission of the compensatory measures adopted. If that site includes a natural habitat or protected
species the Commission's opinion must be sought.

(1) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992.

(98/C 82/226) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2776/97


by Marjo Matikainen-Kallström (PPE) to the Commission
(1 September 1997)

Subject: Protection of children

The Union has not defined the position of children, and the matter has been left to the discretion of national
legislators in each Member State. The position of children is not properly recognized in the Union, barring a
Directive relating to protection of young people at work. For a Finn it practically goes without saying that a child
has the right to express its wishes in connection with divorce cases, for example. Does the same apply in all the
Member States?

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child sets the universal standard, putting the good of children first and
laying down an obligation to develop legislation to foster it. All of the Union Member States have signed the
Convention. For legal reasons the Union cannot accede, because it is not a State.

Finnish child welfare organizations (Mannerheimin Lastensuojeluliitto and Lastensuojelun Keskusliitto) have
drawn attention to that fact. They are calling for children’s rights to be respected in the Union, for instance where
family matters are concerned.

The Union’s decision-making affects matters having a bearing on the future. The young generations will grow up
with our decisions. Environmental or economic effects are often questioned, but the position of children is hardly
discussed.

Children have become devotees of the Internet, a new kind of information society. Services offered on the
Internet are not subject to any form of control. These services, therefore, which in some cases are even used by
criminals, for example to make a bomb or indulge in child pornography, are likewise accessible to children.

Crimes involving children frequently extend beyond national borders. The Belgian and French paedophilia
scandals have been the biggest recent news stories. Paedophilia is just one aspect of child-related crime, along
with the problems associated with the spread of drugs.

What will the Commission do to improve the situation for children? Will it define their position within the
Union? What will it do to secure accession to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child?

Answer given by Mrs Gradin on behalf of the Commission


(10 October 1997)

The Commission is fully active in playing its role within the third pillar, particularly in ‘the fight against the
trafficking and sexual exploitation of children’. In this context, it runs the STOP programme, which is a
multiannual programme providing 6.5 MECU for the period 1996 to 2000 for an incentive and exchange
programme for those responsible for combating trade in human beings and the sexual exploitation of children (1).
This involves the training and provision of information for public officials, such as judges, police, civil servants,
immigration officers and social workers.