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2. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 304/131

Paradoxically, in Cameroon it would appear that for several years the French Government has subsidized the
production of cotton, which has adverse effects on the natural ecosystems (soil degeneration) and on wildlife but
is very profitable for the farmers.

Is the Commission aware of this problem? Can it approach the French government so that the long-term social,
economic and ecological impacts of these strategies are assessed? Does the Commission not consider that the
experiments developed in southern Africa (more effective use of wildlife) could help to provide solutions?

Answer given by Mr Pinheiro on behalf of the Commission
(26 March 1998)

Both the Commission and Member States share the concerns the Honourable Member voices over the economic,
social and environmental impact of cotton-growing.

The question he raises relates to French bilateral aid and so the Commission would suggest that he ask the French
authorities direct what impact cotton farming is having in northern Cameroon.

That aside, the Commission would point out that for the past ten or so years it has been involved in funding major
programmes in Cameroon and central Africa more generally. The programmes, designed to encourage rational
use of forestry ecosystems, aim to preserve biodiversity and make more effective use of wildlife.

(98/C 304/198) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0565/98
by Karla Peijs (PPE) to the Commission
(4 March 1998)

Subject: Effective legislation against fraud involving non-cash means of payment

Member States have widely divergent laws to combat fraud against new means of payment. In most EU Member
States, no specific criminal legislation exists dealing with e-money stored on pre-paid cards. Overall, the
approaches followed in the various countries differ substantially. These discrepancies and gaps in legislation and
policies are causing significant difficulties in the fight against organized crime. This could affect public
confidence in new means of payment and hinder the full functioning of the single market. The Commission was
formally notified of this in 1995 by the international payment card schemes and the three European Credit Sector
Associations.

In several documents, the Commission has recognized the need for an initative in this area. Reference is made to
the Commission’s Green Paper on the practical arrangements for the introduction of the single currency (May
1995, par. 136), Commission policy concerning new means of payment (XV/III/96 of 21 June 1996, p. 7) and a
European initiative in Electronic Commerce (COM(97)157, par. 49). The Council’s action plan to combat
organized crime (97/C 251/01 adopted on 28 April 1997) called on the Council and the Commission to ‘address
the issue of fraud and counterfeiting relating to all payment instruments, including electronic payment
instruments’ (political guideline No 15 at p. 6).

Can the Commission state its intentions in this area and inform the EP on progress made so far?

Answer given by Mrs Gradin on behalf of the Commission
(31 March 1998)

Endorsing an action plan to combat organised crime (1), the European Council in Amsterdam, June 1997, has
shown the resolve for a coherent and coordinated approach by the Community. The action plan calls on the
Council and the Commission to examine and address, by the end of 1998, the issue of fraud and counterfeiting
relating to all payment instruments, including electronic payment instruments. The Commission will meet this
request by proposing an integrated set of measures for consideration by the appropriate bodies, with a view to
promoting an adequate ‘security environment’ for means of payment.
C 304/132 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 2. 10. 98

To this end, the Commission has initiated preparatory work with all parties concerned (the payment systems
industry, but also small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and consumers) to assess the scale of the issue and
the nature of any solutions. Although not yet at a stage of formulating a definitive set of measures, the
Commission already has some preliminary views.

First, the response should avoid exclusively addressing specific payment instruments or products. Any partial
response could lead to policy arbitrage, so that fraud and counterfeiting would migrate towards alternative
instruments and systems. Therefore, the Commission is of the opinion that the issue of fraud should be tackled in
respect of all means of payment including electronic means.

Second, understanding the phenomenon requires assessment of the potential forms of illicit behaviour. While
offences may be directed at payment instruments, fraud and counterfeiting may also occur on the level of the
underlying payment transaction itself or on the level of the preparations of the criminal activity. Therefore, the
Commission is of the preliminary view that, given rapid technological and service innovation, too precise a
codification of offences should be avoided.

Third, consistency is needed at international level to ensure effectiveness. Attention will need to be paid to
coherency and compatibility of approach within the Community. To this end, it is particularly important that all
parties (authorities, industry and users groups) seek to co-ordinate their initiatives in the relevant international
fora and groups, establishing wherever possible global agreement. Therefore, in elaborating an integrated
approach, the Commission will endeavour to maximise the scope for collaboration and co-operation at all levels
and in all suitable forms.

Finally, no single initiative, whether legislative or not, will offer the optimal solution to the problem. It is rather
the implementation of a comprehensive and consistent set of actions, aimed at preventing fraud from occurring
and at sanctioning fraudulent behaviour where it has occurred, that will allow the problem to be tackled at its
roots. In this context, the Commission will assess whether the absence of convergent laws to combat fraud
constitutes a significant weakness and what the most suitable course of action should be.

(1) Action plan to combat organised crime, adopted by the Council on 28 April 1997, OJ C 251, 15.8.1997.

(98/C 304/199) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0567/98
by Hiltrud Breyer (V) to the Council
(3 March 1998)

Subject: EU ban on the import of meat from hormone-treated animals (ruling of the WTO Appeals Panel)

Pursuant to the ruling handed down by the WTO Appeals Panel, the EU is entitled to introduce, on a scientific
basis, what it feels is an appropriate level of consumer protection which may be more stringent than that derived
from international public health standards.

1. For which specific areas must the required scientific evidence for possible risks be produced?

2. Which experts have been commissioned by the EU to provide this evidence?

3. How much money is available for these scientific studies?

4. Are the Member States involved as well?

5. What scientific studies are to be carried out, and when will they begin?

6. With what level of funding and with what measures is the federal government supporting the scientific case
against meat treated with hormones?