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Official Journal of the European Communities
2. Does the Commission not believe that, as a matter of urgency, the Union should call for respect for human rights, which are being violated even by the so-called security forces, and insist on the immediate disbandment of the paramilitary groups that have committed thousands of murders in Colombia? 3. Does it not believe that bilateral relations between the EU and Colombia should be made subject to respect for civilized coexistence and cooperation activities should be curtailed unless they are intended to serve humanitarian purposes in the strict sense?
Answer given by Mr Marín on behalf of the Commission (7 May 1998) 1. The Commission has repeatedly made clear that it shares fully Parliament’s concerns at the situation in Colombia, which has grown steadily worse in recent months. It will spare no effort in seeking an end to the multiple crimes against the civilian population and the near total immunity currently enjoyed by the perpetrators. With the Member States’ diplomatic missions on the spot, the Commission is monitoring the trial of the presumed murderers of Giacomo Turra, the Italian national murdered by Colombian police in Cartagena on 3 September 1995. The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer to Mr Dell’Alba’s written question E-4108/97. (1) 2. The Commission is likewise persuaded of the need for the international community to play a greater part in monitoring the situation in Colombia, notably by keeping a permanent watch on the human rights situation. However, any initiative aimed at isolating Colombia would simply increase the level of violence. The Commission attaches the utmost importance to the role of the local office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and is following with interest the results of the presentation of its first annual report to the 54th session of the Human Rights Committee, which took place from 16 March to 24 April in Geneva. It has already taken steps to guarantee the continuation of its activities for another year. It should be remembered that the Commission is funding the provision of five international observers, who constituted the bulk of the Bogota office’s staff throughout its first year of operations. 3. As regards the aid programme to which the Honourable Member refers, it should be stressed that under the terms of the rules governing humanitarian aid, such aid, given its objective, is not guided by or subject to political considerations. The other forms of aid Colombia receives from the Commission are largely targeted at the most disadvantaged sections of the population. The Commission enlists the help of a large number of local and international NGOs in implementing its aid. The Commission is therefore not directly aiding the Colombian government, so any reduction in aid would hit the neediest hardest.
(1 ) OJ C 196, 22.6.1998.
WRITTEN QUESTION E-0970/98 by Robin Teverson (ELDR) to the Commission (30 March 1998)
Subject: Delays in ESF payments for 1996 Can the Commission confirm that it is taking action to speed up final payment on outstanding ESF claims for 1996? Some project managers in my constituency are still awaiting final payment of their 1996 ESF claims which they submitted in December 1996 − a 15 − month delay!
Official Journal of the European Communities
Answer given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission (8 May 1998) The Commission is pleased to confirm that it has taken all necessary action to speed up final payments on outstanding European social fund (ESF) claims for 1996. Moreover, the Commission welcomes the recent statement from the Minister for employment, welfare to work and equal opportunities, announcing the decision to pre-fund receipts from the Commission. The new arrangements will apply to all valid claims from the 1997 programme to the second payment for 1999 programme.
WRITTEN QUESTION E-0974/98 by Gerardo Fernández-Albor (PPE) to the Commission (30 March 1998)
Subject: Community action on behalf of the homeless under budget heading B-4103 In its detailed reply to my written question E-1169/97 (1) the Commission informed me that due to the United Kingdom’s appeal contesting the legality of funding projects in 1995 and 1996 from budget heading B-4103, no subsidies under that heading were paid. It is not apparent from the September 1996 order by the President of the Court of Justice whether this budget heading will be maintained, leaving the position of the homeless dependent on the Court of Justice’s ruling on the United Kingdom’s appeal. Can the Commission therefore tell me what stage has been reached with regard to the problems raised by the appeal? Has there been a ruling on the matter? What other potential sources of funding could be found within the framework of Community initiatives such as Emploi and the new Integra programme within it, URBAN or Leonardo? What form does the Commission’s continuing support for Feantsa and the associated Monitoring Centre actually take?
(1 ) OJ C 319, 18.10.1997, p. 241.
Answer given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission (4 June 1998) Concerning the use of budget heading B-4103, the Commission must wait for the relevant judgments of the Court of Justice and then act accordingly. The final judgment in Case C-106/96 on the use of the budget heading in 1995 was delivered on 12 May 1998. The Court set aside the decision taken by the Commission in its communiqué of 23 January 1996 announcing grants for European projects to tackle social exclusion, though it did not call into question the payments made and commitments entered into under the 86 contracts that had been signed. The Court has not yet set a hearing date for Case C-240/96 concerning 1996. The homeless, particularly from the point of view of eventually reintegrating them into the labour market, have been included among the most vulnerable people, targeted by measures co-financed under the Integra strand of the Community’s ‘Employment’ initiative. The promotion of social integration and equal opportunities for all as regards access to the labour market constitutes one of the priority action areas in the proposal for a Regulation on the European Social Fund (1) recently submitted to the Council and Parliament. The activities of the European network ‘Feantsa’ are currently co-financed under budget heading B-4116 ‘Cooperation with non-governmental organisations and associations formed by the socially excluded and the elderly’.