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C 304/56 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 2. 10.

98

On the pretext of humanitarian aid, European companies have dumped large quantities of useless medicines. In
donating their unwanted medicines as emergency aid they obtained tax advantages, free publicity and in
particular, avoided the expense of destroying what were for the most part time-expired medicinal products.

1. Has the Commission satisfied itself that unusable and out-of-date medicinal products did not find their way
into the emergency supplies sent to former Yugoslavia by the EU’s own emergency organization, ECHO, and is
the Commission satisfied that ECHO is not engaged in such practices at present?

2. How does the Commission intend to ensure that European companies comply with WHO guidelines on
emergency aid in future? Is any European legislation being drawn up?

Answer given by Mrs Bonino on behalf of the Commission
(1 April 1998)

Various sources, including the World health organisation (WHO), have identified inappropriate drugs supplied
globally to former Yugoslavia largely because they were small and non-professional consignments of unsorted
medicines or half used drugs collected from private homes and charities or large donations of useless or unusable
medicines, mainly from army stocks, which were either out of date or irrelevant (leprosy, etc).

The Commission, for its part, has consistently required its implementing partners to follow the WHO
inter-agency guidelines for drug donations. Globally the WHO estimates that only 5% of drugs from all sources
provided according to these guidelines were inappropriate.

Additionally, the Commission in close co-operation with WHO and through its implementing partner,
‘Pharmaciens sans Frontières’, has taken the initiative for a comprehensive programme of destruction of
inappropriate drugs. The Commission has, therefore made significant efforts to solve the problem of
inappropriate donations made by others.

(98/C 304/78) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0224/98
by Christine Crawley (PSE) to the Commission
(13 February 1998)

Subject: The impact of changing work patterns

Would the Commission provide information on the extent to which it is discussing the implications of changing
work patterns?

Is it satisfied that coordination within Commission departments on the issues of changing work patterns such as
education and training, the effects on social insurance and the ageing of the population, is conducive to a
consistent Commission overview of the future of work patterns for our citizens?

Answer given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission
(9 March 1998)

With the adoption of the green paper ‘Partnership for a New Organisation of Work’ (1), the Commission initiated
a debate on the implications of changing work patterns. The green paper has been widely distributed and a series
of conferences and round tables held in Member States bringing together people in labour market organisations
and from research, education and training institutes. This wide-ranging European debate will be concluded at a
European conference to be held on 28-30 April 1998 in Glasgow, jointly organised by the United Kingdom
Presidency and the Commission.
2. 10. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 304/57

The importance and challenge of co-ordination across the relevant policy areas is fully appreciated by the
Commission and the necessary inter-service collaboration has been put in place, to facilitate a coherent overview
and approach.

(1) COM(97) 128 final.

(98/C 304/79) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0229/98
by Hiltrud Breyer (V) to the Commission
(5 February 1998)

Subject: Baby-walkers

Despite the fact that articles used by infants are not supposed to put them in additional danger, baby-walkers tend
to cause serious accidents. Babies in them can reach speeds of up to 10 km/h. All the tests carried out have shown
that these devices do not assist movements connected with the normal development of a baby’s walking ability.

1. Does the Commission see a need for action, in view of the fact that baby-walkers do not provide any
benefits, but actually constitute a grave danger which has already led to numerous accidents?

2. Is the Commission aware that none of the baby-walkers tested by the consumer organizations complies
with the draft European safety standard (pr en 1273) or meets product information requirements?

3. Does the Commission agree that dangerous and completely nonsensical products, especially for babies,
should not be approved for sale?

4. How does the Commission feel about a total ban on baby-walkers?

Answer given by Mrs Bonino on behalf of the Commission
(9 March 1998)

The Commission shares the concerns expressed by the Honourable Member. Indeed, the reported facts form part
of a study which has been made possible through co-financing provided by the Commission.

Directive 92/59/EEC on general product safety (1) is intended, among other things, to guarantee the safety of
consumers, and in particular of children. To that effect, it requires the Member States to adopt the measures
necessary in order to ensure that only safe products are placed on the Community market (Article 2b).

It is therefore firstly the responsibility of the Member States to take action in the face of products which represent
a health or safety risk for consumers through the adoption of the necessary measures (including the possible
withdrawal of the product from the market), providing that these measures comply with Community law and in
particular with Articles 30 et seq of the EC Treaty.

In the present case, the Commission, after having obtained the agreement of the Member States, has already
given the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) a mandate to develop a standard which takes into
consideration the various hazards presented by baby-walkers, including those revealed by the study mentioned
above.

Finally, in order to be sure that the consumer’s point of view is taken into account in the process of European
standardisation, the Commission supports ANEC, the European association created to co-ordinate and represent
consumer interests within the European (and international) standardisation organisations.

(1) OJ L 228, 11.8.1992.