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C 92 E/188 Official Journal of the European Union EN 17.4.

2003

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(21 October 2002)

The Commission did indeed present a proposal for a Council Directive on safety requirements and
attestation of professional competence for cabin crews in civil aviation (1), which received the support of
the European Parliament. The text has been examined several times by the Council, which has failed to
achieve a qualified majority on it.

The proposal is currently being examined in parallel with the amended proposal for a Regulation of the
European Parliament and of the Council amending Council Regulation (EEC) No 3922/91 of 16 December
1991 on the harmonisation of technical requirements and administrative procedures in the field of civil
aviation. (2)

It is for the Council to reach a decision on the two texts.

(1) OJ C 263, 29.8.1997, amended by OJ C 109, 20.4.1999.


(2) OJ L 373, 31.12.1991.

(2003/C 92 E/247) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2582/02


by Jan Dhaene (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(10 September 2002)

Subject: Requirement for trucks to be fitted with blind-spot mirrors

In Belgium, one cyclist  in many cases, a young cyclist  is killed every month in an accident caused by
the blind spot in the field of vision of truck drivers. The European Union has made it compulsory in one
of its directives for all new trucks to be equipped with a system which eliminates the blind spot. At the
same time, the European Union decided not to impose this requirement on trucks which were already in
operation; i.e. it did not require retrofitting of trucks. This decision is costing lives.

In view of the above:

 When will the Commission introduce retrofitting of trucks with systems to eliminate blind spots?

 Will the Commission in the near future create tax incentives for the fitting of trucks with systems to
eliminate blind spots, and if so, how?

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(18 October 2002)

The problem presented by the Honourable Member indeed covers a serious road safety problem. The
Commission has already taken an initiative to mitigate this problem by proposing an amendment to an
existing vehicle type approval directive in order to make it mandatory in the future to equip all new trucks
and buses with mirrors or cameras enhancing the indirect field of vision of their drivers (1). The
expectation is that this proposal will be approved by the Parliament and the Council before the end of
2002.

However, indeed an important number of existing trucks are not yet equipped with such systems and
could cause further accidents before they are replaced. The Commission considers the opportunity to
prepare a proposal for legislation imposing the retrofitting of existing heavy goods vehicles and long buses
with mirror systems eliminating the blind spot for the beginning of 2003.
17.4.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 92 E/189

On the other hand, the Commission has no competence in the area of fiscal measures aiming at an earlier
retrofitting of such devices on existing trucks. These measures indeed are to be considered by the Member
States themselves.

(1) OJ C 126 E, 28.5.2002.

(2003/C 92 E/248) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2598/02


by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission

(18 September 2002)

Subject: Repressive measures against the Hmong minority in the Saysomboune special zone in Laos

According to the Lao Human Rights Movement, in recent weeks the Lao authorities have carried out a
particularly violent campaign of repression against several thousand Lao of Hmong origin in the
Saysomboune special zone.

According to well-informed sources, the operations by the Vientiane authorities included the deployment
of large numbers of troops from the army of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, as well as the use of
helicopters, and were carried out in the region of Xiengkhouang, between the districts of Tha Tong and
Tha Vieng, and also the region of Phou Bia. The same sources report that the operations resulted in
hundreds of deaths. As yet unconfirmed reports suggest that the operations also involved the use of
chemical weapons to poison watercourses and destroy the crops of some 3 000 members of the Hmong
ethnic minority.

What information does the Commission have on this campaign by the authorities of the Lao People’s
Democratic Republic against members of the Hmong minority in Laos? Will it conduct a wide-ranging
inquiry into these operations as a matter of the utmost urgency? More generally, is the Commission aware
of other repressive measures against minorities in Laos and what steps will it take to persuade the
Vientiane authorities to end their policy of repression against minorities?

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(15 October 2002)

The Commission is aware of persistent reports on ‘security operations’, allegedly pursued on a regular basis
with the direct involvement of Vietnamese troops, in the special economic zone of Saysombourne in Laos.
For many years part of the region, in particular the area south of Xieng Khoang, has not been open to
traffic and foreigners are not allowed there for ‘security reasons’.

Ethnic minority groups in Laos often face a difficult situation. Many of them live in the impoverished
upland areas, particularly in the north of the country. School attendance is lower in ethnic minority areas
where access to schools is more difficult. In addition, there is no teaching in ethnic minority languages,
only in the Lao language. The biggest ethnic minority group, the Hmong, frequently encounters a lot of
mistrust from the administration, whereas other groups, like the Kamu, are more likely to accept the
current political environment.

The Laotian government has also undertaken a large programme of relocation of various ethnic groups,
among them the Hmong. Officially, relocation coupled with the Land Use Planning approach is undertaken
to protect the environment affected by slash and burn techniques and to ensure that ethnic groups gain
better access to services such as education and health. However, relocation is not easily accepted by the
population and the resettled communities have sometimes been faced with a lack of access to fertile land
and the inadequacy of basic social services, shelter, and job opportunities.