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C 117/160

Official Journal of the European Communities

16. 4. 98

Will the Commission be involving NGOs in its work in future?

What initiatives will the Commission be taking to achieve a balance between men and women recruited to posts in the European institutions?

How many women of Austrian nationality are currently employed in these institutions (Council, Commission and Parliament)? How well is Austria doing in comparison with the figures for Finland and Sweden, which also joined the EU in 1995?

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(20 November 1997)

The Commission is aware of the seriousness of the patterns of violence against women, and in particular sexual exploitation, about which the Honourable Member is concerned. As part of the Daphne initiative, it has allocated ECU 3 million from the 1997 budget to support a series of measures to combat violence against women, adolescents and children. A call for projects might be renewed in 1998 depending on the 1998 budget and the priorities set out in it.

The Commission is particularly interested in encouraging cooperation between non-governmental organisations and the relevant authorities, in particular with a view to establishing or strengthening networks to support and coordinate European-level information and projects with a bearing on measures to prevent violence and protect women.

The imbalance in the breakdown of posts to which the Honourable Member refers is reflected in the Commission in the under-representation of women in Category A posts and men in Category C posts, although the overall figure evens out (46% women). It is linked to the number of applications from women and the number of successful candidates on the reserve lists from general competitions. In 1995 the Commission sought to reduce this structural imbalance by adopting annual targets for recruitment of women to category A and for the appointment of women to management and senior management posts. The strategy consists in recruiting an equal number of men and women at the starting grade in Category A on the basis of the number of successful candidates in the reserve lists. With regard to the readjustment of the balance between men and women in Category C, the Commission will give fuller descriptions of the various tasks carried out by officials in that Category, with special emphasis on the new technologies in office automation, in order to attract more applications from men.

The general total of Austrian officials recruited by the Commission up to September 1997 (excluding the language service) is 223, including 119 women, i.e. 53%. During the same period the number of Finnish women officials recruited by the Commission (still excluding the language service) represented 61% of the total (161 women and 105 men) and the number of Swedish women officials represented 64% of the total (190 women and 105 men).

(98/C 117/218)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-3172/97

by Patricia McKenna (V) to the Commission

(13 October 1997)

Subject: ECHO’s involvement in Burma

The European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) has received some criticism from human rights groups because of its involvement in a HIV/AIDS project in Burma.

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16. 4. 98

Official Journal of the European Communities

C 117/161

The project has involved liaison with the health ministry run by the Burmese State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC), which has been responsible for mass repression of pro-democracy activists in the country.

Has the Commission carried out any assessment on the impact of the project? Does the Commission believe that the project has brought any tangible benefits to the people of Burma? Has it succeeded in ensuring that the project has not been controlled by SLORC. If so, how has it done this?

The Commission has also been reported to have supported a UN drug control programme in Burma. How much funding has it allocated to this programme. Similarly, can it outline any benefits which it believes the project has brought to the people of Burma?

Answer given by Mr Marin on behalf of the Commission

(10 November 1997)

The project cited by the Honourable Member is not financed through the humanitarian aid budget line, but under the HIV (human immunodeficiency virus)/AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome) budget line (HIV/AIDS prevention and care in Tachilek and Kyainge Tong, World Vision United Kingdom. The baseline assessment and the development of the operational plan have been suspended for the time being because of heavy monsoon rain in the region. The project has therefore not produced any result yet.

The activities the Commission is supporting, however, will really benefit the populations in need without giving any recognition to the State law and order restoration council (SLORC). On the other hand, in a country like Burma, it is almost impossible for any non governmental organisation (NGO) to work without any link to existing structures, because only in an extremely limited number of cases can an NGO build up its own structures sufficiently to have any impact on the humanitarian situation of the least favoured parts of the population. This is particularly true in the health sector where dissemination through (and training of) the Burmese staff who will be, apart from the limited number of NGO staff, in charge of dealing with the problems, inevitably leads to working relations with governmental structures or individuals linked to them, such as the Myanmar mother and child welfare association or the Myanmar medical association.

The Commission is aware that this is not an ideal situation, but it has to accept it if it wants to improve the humanitarian situation inside Burma. This does, however, in no way mean that NGOs working with these structures, or individuals linked to them, are supporting the junta or fail to respect humanitarian principles. The Commission continuously monitors the situation of all Community financed projects very closely, together with the Member States in Burma, in order to make sure that this is the case.

Regarding co-operation with the United Nations drug control programme (UNDCP), the Commission is contributing ECU 806 000 to an UNDCP-run three-year precursor control project in East Asia, covering Burma, China, Laos and Vietnam. The project aims at increasing the countries’capability to implement adequate national and subregional measures for regulating precursors and to suppress their diversion and trafficking. Benefits to the people of Burma will be indirect.

(98/C 117/219)

WRITTEN QUESTION P-3175/97

by Nikitas Kaklamanis (UPE) to the Commission

(9 October 1997)

Subject: Funding the new airport of Spata in Attica

The new airport of Spata is a key project for the development of Attica and Greece as a whole, especially now that Athens has been awarded the 2004 Olympic Games.