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WRITTEN QUESTION by Mikel Irujo Amezaga to the Commission

Subject: Trade in speleothems

Question E-0593/08 from 12 February 2008 (→ official link)

« Recently, the number of speleothems being offered for sale has increased in a very worrying manner. People harvest small and big specimens as souvenirs, but they also sell them freely in shops all over the world (including in the EU), a deplorable act which may appear legitimate as it provides an income for the local people.

A shop in Brussels sells, from EUR 9 000 each, large speleological draperies from China, saying that they have a certificate that proves their origin and the reason for their extraction: 'they were removed before the cave was to be flooded with water due to the construction of a dam'.

Is the Commission aware of this illegal trade with speleothems? Can the Commission investigate this problem and the potential responsive strategies to solve it? Are there not any Community laws protecting speleothems as historical heritage?

Are there really certifications which allow speleothems to be taken away when a cave is going to be destroyed? »

Answer given by Mr Dimas on behalf of the Commission (24 April 2008, → official link):

« The matter to which the Honourable Member refers does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Community.

The Commission does not have any information about trade of speleothems or related trade certifications. »

Question E-3575/08 from 25 June 2008 (→ official link):

« The answer to my Written Question was both brief and incomplete. Does the Commission not consider that the trade in speleothems is covered by Article 3(b) and (l) of the Treaty establishing the European Community and that it merits its attention?

In other parts of the world such as the United States, the sale of speleothems, stalactites and stalagmites has been banned since 1988 (Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988). Has the Commission considered introducing rules on this subject? »

Answer given by Mr Dimas on behalf of the Commission (1 October 2008, → official link):

« The rules regarding common commercial policy as prescribed under Article 3 (1)(b) of the Treaty establishing the European Community, and as further elaborated in its Article 133, are in principle applicable to the trade in speleothems, as also are internal market rules. The Commission is not currently considering introducing any legislation on this matter but, the sale of speleothems may, however, be subject to legislation of individual EU Member States. »

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