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C 370/28 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 21.12.

1999

(1999/C 370/036) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0269/99


by Gerhard Hager (NI) to the Commission

(5 February 1999)

Subject: Aid for Russia  loss of millions in EU funding

Last Autumn the European Union and the USA, concerned at the prospect of a Winter of famine, decided
on food aid for Russia worth ÖS 6,3 billion. Reports have now emerged that the aid programmes are
being implemented sluggishly, and that there is no guarantee that the aid will not once again end up in the
hands of the mafia countries, as was in the case of the Winter of 1991/1992.

1. What security measures have been taken to ensure that the food actually reaches the persons for
whom it is intended?

2. Where are the supplies being sent and what is the nature of the distribution system in Russia?

3. Who is responsible for handling the aid programmes on behalf of the EU?

4. The strategy adopted by the United States differs from the European approach in that in parallel with
the deliveries of aid the Americans granted a loan with an obligation to buy US goods. Why did not the
EU adopt this twofold strategy, too?

Answer given by Mr van den Broek on behalf of the Commission

(27 April 1999)

Point 3.13 of the memorandum of understanding signed by the Commission and the Russian government
provides that ‘The Government of the Russian Federation will ensure transparency and full control of all
operations from the take-over of the commodities to the ultimate point of distribution of sales. In
particular, the collection and use of the proceeds obtained from the sales as well as the detailed
specification of the special account will be supervised by adequate Russian control bodies’.

As indicated in the answer to written question P-131/99 from Mrs Anttila (1), the memorandum of
understanding also states that the Russian authorities will assist independent bodies authorised by the
Commission with the follow-up, audit, control and evaluation of operations, and gives the European Court
of Auditors the right to audit the operations in Russia.

The destination of the aid and the system for distributing it are specified in the Annexes to the
memorandum of understanding, which were drafted by the Russian authorities.

The mobilisation of products and their transport to the Russian frontier are the responsibility of the
Directorate-General for Agriculture. Follow-up, control, audit and evaluation by the Commission in Europe
and in Russia are carried out by the Joint Relex Service for the management of aid to non-Community
countries.

The United States’ PL 480-programme (Title I) provides for government-to-government sales of agricultural
products to developing countries under long-term credit arrangements. The Community does not have a
similar fixed programme that permits it to provide credits. As the Community did not have the financial
means for a credit operation but had agricultural products in intervention stock as a result of intervention
measures, a Community programme of free supply of agricultural products to the Russian Federation was
the only possible reply to the Russian request for food aid.

The Honourable Member is also referred to the Commission’s reply to oral question H-130/99 by
Mr Giansily during question time at Parliament’s March I 1999 part-session (2).

(1) See page 19.


(2) Debates of the Parliament (March I 1999).