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C 137 E/76 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.

2003

He claims that this is not legalising cannabis (which is legal in all EU countries except France, Sweden,
Finland and Greece), and he actually announced that the current five-year sentence for drug traffickers will
be raised to 14.

The decision is based on a successful, if controversial experiment carried out in south London, where the
police took a lenient approach to cannabis consumers and focused on hard drugs.

Does the Commission believe that the UK Government’s position is in line with European policy on
fighting drug addiction?

How do the Commission and its relevant Agency view the experiment carried out in London?

Answer given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission

(20 September 2002)

Drug policy falls mainly within the competence of the Member States. All Member States have signed and
ratified the three United Nations Conventions on Drugs (from 1961, 1971 and 1988), which provide a
common framework for national legislation on drugs, while at the same time allowing for some leeway in
national implementation of the legislation. For its part, the Commission carried out a study on the drug
legislation in Member States when preparing its proposal for a Council Framework Decision laying down
minimum provisions on the constituent elements of criminal acts and penalties in the field of illicit drug
trafficking (1).

This study shows that trafficking in cannabis remains illegal in all Member States. However, some Member
States have decided that the consumption of cannabis and possession for personal use should not be
criminal offences. According to a recent study published by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and
Drug Addiction (EMCDDA), there is a general tendency throughout the Union for prosecutors and/or the
courts to find alternative arrangements to criminal sanctions in relation to use or possession of cannabis
for personal use.

The proposed British legislation, where greater priority is given to policing and prosecuting cannabis
dealers and traffickers is in line with this trend. It does not imply the legalisation of cannabis but provides
for the law enforcement resources to be targeted more effectively against trafficking in cannabis e.g. by
raising the maximum sentence for trafficking to 14 years.

As far as the experiment in South London (Lambeth) is concerned, it is too early to draw any far-fetching
conclusions since the experiment only finished at the end of July 2002 and no thorough evaluation of the
experiment is available as yet.

(1) OJ C 304 E, 30.10.2001.

(2003/C 137 E/085) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2356/02


by Marie Isler Béguin (Verts/ALE), Catherine Guy-Quint (PSE),
Elmar Brok (PPE-DE), Pedro Marset Campos (GUE/NGL), Lennart Sacrédeus (PPE-DE),
Monica Frassoni (Verts/ALE), Hans Modrow (GUE/NGL)
and David Martin (PSE) to the Council

(2 August 2002)

Subject: EU information policy in the republics of eastern Europe

Knowledge and, therefore, an understanding of the projects and policies pursued by the European Union is
gaining ground on a daily basis and in the field through the Union’s information and documentation
networks in the Member States, the applicant countries and third countries. These information networks
comprise Info-Points Europe (1), European documentation centres (2), the rural information carrefours (3),
the Euro Info Centres (4) and the Team Europe conference speakers (5) situated in towns and cities.
12.6.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/77

These Union showcases and databases are efficient and effective sources of information for the general
public and other players in European societies, drawing their attention to and facilitating their participation
in programmes, projects and debates launched by the Union

In the short term, the enlargement of the Union to include the central European countries will mean a shift
in its eastern borders. This enlargement will produce a new EU perceived in a different light by countries
such as Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, which have common links with European history and civilisation,
even though they are not at present officially recognised as candidates for participation in the process of
European integration. Although the Ukrainian Government has confirmed its willingness to forge closer
links with and take its place in the European Community, sentiments also previously expressed by the
leaders of Belarus and Moldova, Community information sources are at present confined to two European
documentation centres in Ukraine (population 50 million), one in Belarus (population 10 million) and
none in Moldova (population 4,5 million), whereas neighbouring Poland has some 40 EU information
centres for its population of 40 million.

Is it not appropriate, in the Council’s view, to continue with its information campaign on our institutions,
our values and our policies, targeting the citizens of Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova  in their official
national languages -who will, in the short term, also be our immediate neighbours in an enlarged EU?

Is the Council prepared to persuade the Commission of the importance of increasing the number of EU
information offices and networks in these three European countries?

(1) http://europa.eu.int/comm/relays/ipe/index_en.htm.
(2) http://europa.eu.int/comm/relays/edc/index_en.htm.
(3) http://europa.eu.int/comm/relays/carrefours/index_en.htm.
(4) http://bre.cec.eu.int.
(5) http://europa.eu.int/comm/relays/teameurope/index_en.htm.

Reply

(6 February 2003)

The Council notes the case made by the Honourable Members according to which the future enlargement
of the Union and thus the new shape of its eastern frontiers will have implications for frontier relations in
the regions concerned.

As the Council pointed out in its reply to Written Question E-481/02, also put by Ms Marie Isler Béguin
and others, at its meeting on 15 April 2002 the Council held an exchange of views on relations between
the future enlarged EU and its eastern neighbours. It had welcomed the intention of the Commission and
of the Secretary-General/High Representative, Mr Javier Solana, to draft reports in the second half of 2002
on possibilities of strengthening these relations, taking into account the state of relations between the EU
and the various countries concerned, as well as their level of political and economic development.
The Council is currently formulating its observations and a Commission communication is awaited on this
subject during the autumn. During its meeting on 30 September 2002, it reaffirmed its conviction that EU
enlargement will provide a good opportunity to enhance relations between the European Union and the
countries concerned with the objective of creating stability and narrowing the prosperity gap at the
borders of the Union. The Council also emphasised the need for a differentiated approach with each
country. It invited its relevant bodies to work on this issue with a view to the Copenhagen European
Council.

Pending definition of the EU’s future policy vis-à-vis the EU’s new neighbours in the enlarged Europe,
the Council would support the Commission in making the best use of the budget appropriations available
including to extend the information and documentation networks, especially on the Internet, in those
countries as appropriate.