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WEU Recommendations

Volume 455: debated on Thursday 25 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make a statement on paragraphs 12, 13, 15 and 16 of Recommendation 780 on European forces in Afghanistan adopted by the Assembly of the Western European Union on 20 June 2006. (116631)

[holding answer 18 January 2007]: The UK agrees with the emphasis in paragraph 12 of the Western European Union (WEU) Recommendation 780 on dismantling the European trafficking networks. The UK is a partner nation to the Afghan Government on counter narcotics and is providing support on developing their capacity to tackle drug-trafficking networks. Separately, the UK is pursuing policies aimed at disrupting these networks in Europe through bilateral and multilateral co-operation, including engaging with Europol, and the Police Chiefs Task Force. The focus is on interdiction activity against drugs flowing into the EU and money flowing out.

The UK supports a visible and strong role for the EU in Afghanistan and enhanced co-ordination of EU assistance (as advocated in paragraph 13 of WEU Recommendation 780). It welcomes the announcement by the Commission of its intention to spend €40 million on justice sector reform in Afghanistan. The UK supports the deployment of a European Security and Defence Policy mission to Afghanistan focusing on policing, but with linkages to the wider rule of law. Protecting EU civilian personnel in Afghanistan is a priority. However, a Battlegroup cannot be used to protect them as this is a rapid response capability for use in a crisis.

There are many existing opportunities for dialogue between the US and European countries on Afghanistan, both bilaterally and multilaterally. The UK therefore does not intend to call for dialogue between the US and WEU, as proposed in paragraph 15 of the WEU Recommendation 780.

Purchasing the poppy crop, as proposed in paragraph 16 of WEU Recommendation 780, is not a realistic or sustainable solution. It does not form part of the Afghan Government’s National Drug Control Strategy, which the UK fully supports. The UK agrees with the Afghan Government’s position that licensing opium cultivation for medical use is not a realistic solution to the problems of the opium economy.