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C 187 E/138 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 3.7.


How does the Commission view ‘drug checking’?

Does it share the Centre’s assessment? What role should permissive drug prevention measures of this kind
play in the Commission’s preventive strategy?

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(28 February 2001)

First, it should be stressed that ‘drug checking’, also referred to as on-the-spot toxicological pill tests, falls
within the competence of the Member States. The Commission is not involved in the implementation of
such measures.

The Union Action Plan on Drugs (2000-2004) (1) encourages the Member States and the Commission to
further develop innovative approaches to the prevention of the abuse of synthetic drugs, taking into
account the specificity of synthetic drug users. Although not mentioned in the plan, on-the-spot
toxicological pill tests may form a part of a preventive approach provided that it is allowed by the
legislation of the Member States.

The Commission is aware of both positive and negative arguments as to whether on-the-spot toxicological
pill tests contributes to reducing the risks and increasing responsible behaviour among users. It is essential
that such testing occurs in combination with the provision of information and on-the-spot counselling in
order to achieve a positive outcome, thereby addressing the risks involved with the use of drugs in general
rather than drawing a distinction between ‘safe’ and ‘dangerous’ drugs.

Finally, on-the-spot toxicological pill tests can give a rapid indication of what substances and ingredients
are present on the black market and are being used in particular settings. Such information is of value for
epidemiological purposes and/or as the basis for specific warning measures.

Research is insufficient but the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction has commis-
sioned a study on on-site pill-testing interventions in the Community. This research will draw up an
inventory of existing on-site pill-testing programmes and examine their objectives, target groups, methods
and pitfalls to assess how prevention and risk-reduction measures can be tied in with ‘drug checking’ work.
The results of the study are expected soon.

(1) COM(1999) 239 final.

(2001/C 187 E/147) WRITTEN QUESTION E-4115/00

by Laura González Álvarez (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(11 January 2001)

Subject: Murders in Colombia

Last summer, Afrocolombian communities and particularly, that of Buenaventura, issued warnings about
threats from paramilitary groups; but nothing whatever was done to prevent the murders which followed,
and on 6 and 9 September, paramilitaries killed a total of 27 members of the Afrocolombian communities
of Triana, Zaragoza and Las Palmas.

Fresh paramilitary intervention is about to take place along the River Yurumangui, and also on the peasant
reservation of Calamar in Guaviare, according to the local mayor, José Germán Olarte Palomino.

Given its relationship with the Colombia Government and the pressing nature of the situation, what can
the Commission do to prevent these killings?
3.7.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 187 E/139

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(19 February 2001)

In their contacts with the Colombian government, the Union representatives have repeatedly stressed the
importance of making progress on the issue of human rights, including taking effective initiatives in order
to counter the activities of the paramilitaries. The Colombian authorities are showing an increased
willingness to respond to these calls. First steps, such as the laying-off of army officers involved in
human rights violations and trials of military personnel in civilian courts, have been taken by the
government, but there is obviously still a long way to go and the international community needs to
continue its active human rights policy.

As to the Honourable Member’s question on preventing killings, the Commission and the Member States’
role can only be limited. It is up to the Colombian authorities to take the necessary steps in terms of
security measures.

The Commission will, of course, ensure that any information on possible threats against the civilian
population, are immediately passed on to the Colombian authorities.

(2001/C 187 E/148) WRITTEN QUESTION E-4120/00

by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(11 January 2001)

Subject: Harmful environmental effects of air-conditioning in cars

1. Is the Commission aware of the report published in the Dutch newspaper ‘De Volkskrant’ on
4 November 2000 that half of new cars in the Netherlands and as many as 80 % of new cars in Germany
are fitted with air-conditioning systems and that this equipment is used not only for cooling the
temperature on hot days but also increasingly for defrosting and demisting windows and mirrors in
winter? Can the Commission confirm these figures and trends or does it have alternative data?

2. Can the Commission confirm that the increasing use of air-conditioning consumes more fuel and
that the coolant HFC-134a that has been used in air-conditioning for about ten years now is
a hydroflurocarbon which has a greenhouse gas effect 1300 times more potent that CO2, and thus
makes a significant contribution to global warming despite the fact that it is chlorine-free and therefore
less deleterious for the ozone layer that the notorious CFCs used as refrigerants in the past?

3. Is the Commission aware that the HFCs used in refrigerators and as blowing agents for foam
insulation and polyurethane foam are increasingly being replaced by hydrocarbons such as butane, pentane
and heptane, so far above suspicion, but that they are still being used in car air-conditioning systems,
which have an annual leakage of 25 % and constantly have to be topped up so that ultimately, after CO2,
they are the most important artificially created greenhouse gas?

4. Does the Commission share my concern about the damaging effects of the growing use of HFCs as
coolants, not least because of the greenhouse effect and the obvious difficulty that the Member States have
in meeting the commitments entered into as a result of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change?

5. Does the Commission share the wish expressed by researchers and environmental activists that the
car industry should be required to reduce leakage of coolant and find alternatives that do not produce
greenhouse gasses and use less fuel? Does it not consider that  in view of the ominous environmental
impact  we would be misguided to place all our hopes and trust in self-regulation by the market?