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18.7.

2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 203 E/119

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(1 December 1999)

The Commission fully supports the continued and consistent application of the Union common position
with regard to Burma/Myanmar, given the continued human rights abuses taking place in the country.

The common position  adopted in October 1996  re-affirmed the then existing measures relating to
the expulsion of military personnel attached to diplomatic representations of Burma/Myanmar in Member
States and the withdrawal of military attachés for diplomatic representations in the country, an embargo
on arms, munitions and military equipment, and the suspension of non-humanitarian aid and bilateral
assistance for development programmes. It introduced a ban on entry visas for senior members of the State
Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC) senior members of the military or security forces, and their
families, as well as the suspension of high-level bilateral visits by ministers and government officials.

The common position was reinforced in October 1998 by extending the ban on visas to include transit
visas and by applying it to Burmese authorities in the tourism sector. The Council decided on 11 October
1999 to renew of the common position for six months.

In addition, an enquiry conducted in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No. 3281/4 of 15 December
1994 applying a four-year scheme of generalised tariff preferences (1995 to 1998) in respect of certain
industrial products originating in developing countrie (1), confirmed that the authorities in Burma/Myanmar
had routinely used forced labour, not only for military operations, but also for civilian and military
infrastructure projects. The Commission recommended the removal of Burma-Myanmar from access to
tariff preferences granted by the Regulation. The Council Regulation applying this recommendation came
into effect in May 1997 and remains in force.

(1) OJ L 348, 31.12.1994.

(2000/C 203 E/151) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2028/99

by Pedro Marset Campos (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(3 November 1999)

Subject: Effects on health of mobile phone masts in residential areas

In certain residential areas in Spain, including the town of La Unión in Murcia, there is widespread concern
among residents caused by the presence of mobile phone masts and base stations and their possible effects
on health.

With reference to written question E-1788/98 (1) and the proposal for a Council Recommendation
presented by the Commission on the limitation to exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields
0 Hz-300 GHz (COM(1998) 268 final):

1. Is the Commission aware of the public concern that exists in Spain?

2. Does the Commission agree that the siting of mobile phone masts in residential areas without
protection and/or isolation measures is damaging to health?

3. Will the Commission give details of progress on the above proposal for a Council recommendation
and of current legislation on exposure of citizens to electromagnetic radiation and how it is being
implemented in the Member States?

(1) OJ C 50, 22.2.1999, p. 93.


C 203 E/120 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 18.7.2000

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(20 December 1999)

The Commission has taken due note of concerns on possible harmful effects on health of electromagnetic
fields.

On 9 March 1999, the Council and the Parliament adopted Directive 1999/5/EC on radio equipment and
telecommunications terminal equipment and the mutual recognition of their conformity (1). This lays down
the requirements that radio transmitters need to meet in order to be placed on the market and be
operated. It envisages that Member States may restrict operation for health reasons, e.g. by imposing
certain minimum distances between the transmitter and the public.

On 8 June 1999, the Council adopted Recommendation 1999/519/EC proposed by the Commission on
the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (2). This takes account of the
scientific opinion of the International commission on non-ionizing radiation, supported by the Commis-
sion’s scientific steering committee referring to established effects on human health of exposure to
electromagnetic fields.

In this context, it should be noted that the extensive research done in Europe through the co-ordinated
action of the COST 244 and 244bis projects over the last decade has not demonstrated any reproducible
detrimental effects on health at the levels of radio-frequency emissions typical of mobile phones and cell
masts.

As a result of the widespread use of mobile phones, it is clear that if there is an adverse health effect, it
could be a longer term effect. Therefore, research should further continue to measure such effects and the
results of on-going and future research in this area will be considered in the context of the reporting
procedure provided for in the text of the Recommendation.

In the context of the Fifth framework programme for research, technological development and demonstra-
tion (3), the programme on ‘Quality of life and management of living resources’ (4) foresees in its key
action 4 ‘Environment and health’ specific research on the health effects of electromagnetic radiation and
in particular epidemiological and biomedical studies to determine possible effects linked to non-ionising
radiation, particularly from cellular phones and antennas (point 2 of the quality of life work pro-
gramme) (5). Several applications relevant to this field are processed for possible funding for the 1999
budget.

(1) OJ L 91, 7.4.1999.


(2) OJ L 199, 30.7.1999.
(3) OJ C 173, 7.6.1997.
(4) COM(98) 305 final.
(5) Commission decision No C/99/493 of 4.3.1999.

(2000/C 203 E/152) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2033/99


by Glyn Ford (PSE) to the Council

(11 November 1999)

Subject: Detainee Thet Win Aung

Has the Council made representations to Burma with regard to the case of Thet Win Aung whom
Amnesty International have identified as a Prisoner of Conscience? If not, will the Council do so?

Answer

(24 January 2000)

The Council has not so far raised the specific case of Thet Win Aung, but it has repeatedly called on the
Burmese regime to free all political prisoners and take early and concrete steps towards respect for human
rights, the promotion of democracy and national reconciliation.

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