Newsletter from Europe Issue 2/2003
Bashir Khanbhai MEP
(Norfolk and Suffolk)




 Over the past few months I have noticed a number of cars abandoned in our countryside. It seems that more and more people are now leaving their unwanted cars on country lanes, in ditches, on farmland and even in public car parks hoping that the council will remove, scrap and dispose of them.

Why should the council bear the cost of disposal of citizens' private assets? Why should law abiding citizens pay higher rates to their Council for those who have chosen to be irresponsible? 

The EU legislation for End of Life Vehicles (ELVs) was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council of EU Ministers in September 2000 and should have been in place in member states by April 2002. The Directive requires:-

1.       Manufacturers of vehicles and components to re-design products to reduce/eliminate the use of hazardous substances (lead, mercury) and facilitate recycling and disposal.

2.        Member States to set up collection and disposal of ELVs through Approved Treatment Facilities (ATFs) as well as a system of de-registration so that a “Certificate of Destruction” can be used to verify appropriate disposal.

The EU envisages that from 1st January 2007, the manufacturer of the vehicle will meet all or a significant part of the cost of collection and disposal and hopes that its Directive will increase the rate of re-use/recovery of metals to 85% by July 2006 and 95% by July 2015. The UK has so far failed to implement this directive and is now facing fines from the European Commission for non-compliance.

The EU Directive will have a crippling effect on our scrap car industry as dealers, especially the smaller family owned businesses, will either have to invest in new plants for crushing and recycling or simply close! It will require car manufacturers to pay around £200 million each year for car disposals for the 1.8m cars scrapped in the UK alone. This increase in their costs will inevitably be passed on to car buyers in the form of higher prices! 

The UK government has said that the final owner of the ELV will continue to bear the cost of collection and disposal until July 2007. The re-use, recovery and disposal will be managed by ATFs supervised by the Environment Protection Agency (EPA).

This EU Directive is yet another example of complex legislation from a bureaucracy gone mad. We need legislation that neither burdens the manufacturer/scrap dealer nor the end user of the vehicle in order to facilitate enforcement. Only then can we ensure that people will no longer need to abandon their old vehicles and litter our countryside.


Millions of poor people, especially in Africa, suffer from hunger and disease, struggling to live on less than USD$1 a day. Yet many of their governments, led by ruthless and corrupt dictators, spend millions of dollars of national income, grants and aid to purchase weapons e.g. rifles, hand-held grenades, portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns, machine guns, ammunition, land mines, tanks and military aircraft.

Article 51 of the UN Charter authorises states to defend themselves and it is generally accepted that small arms are mainly used for security purposes. At present there are 639 million firearms. Civilians legally own 59% of small arms.

The free availability of small arms, especially in certain regions of the world initiates, intensifies and sustains violence, internal conflict and communal unrest. The WHO estimates that 2.3 million people die each year as victims of conflict where small arms are used. These arms threaten vulnerable people such as refugees, women and children. The UN estimates that there are 12.8 million refugees and 25 million internally displaced persons. Potential violence from the proliferation and widespread use of small arms prevents these people from returning to their villages. Expenditure on firearms deprives funding of health, sanitation and education thereby impeding economic development.


Small arms threaten aid and voluntary workers (70% of deaths of personnel from UN, the Red Cross and NGOs is from use of firearms) and the violence resulting from firearms increases public health costs.

Who produces, sells and profits from the sale of such arms to the poor? Is it possible to regulate the international small arms trade? What are the humanitarian consequences of the massive use of small arms and light weapons? 

Some 98 countries have the capacity to manufacture small arms. China, Russia and the USA are the biggest producers, although 10 others have significant production/sales: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the UK. It is difficult to estimate the volume and value of arms sales, as each producer/seller country is reluctant to confirm its deals. Reliable estimates suggest that arms sales amounted to USD$2.8 billion and ammunitions USD$4.6bn in the year 2000.

The illegal trade, both for new and second hand weapons, is estimated to be worth USD$1billion. Such illegal trade consists of sales by governments or “middlemen” (merchants of death) to countries under an arms embargo, unrecognised paramilitary groups, rebels, warlords and mercenaries. Under these conditions, sale prices are inflated and the poor suffer even more as their governments pay over the odds to secure these weapons! Huge financial kickbacks from such purchases fill the Swiss bank accounts of dictators and warlords and fuel their desire to sustain their reign of terror.

In contrast to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, there are no international norms or standards applying to small arms. The UN Conference on Small Arms in 2001 failed to establish a legal framework to restrict the manufacture, sale and use of such weapons. Clearly, there is an insatiable demand and producer countries continue to profit without the need to disclose their activity.

Is this situation compatible with the morality proclaimed by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair? Should the rich nations with the capacity to produce the weapons of death continue to sell arms to the countries where millions are starving to death? If it is right to disarm Saddam Hussein in Iraq then why should we not apply the same principle in Somalia, Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe and any other country that uses violence against its own people or its neighbours? It is time that the rich and mighty nations who sit at the top table recognise that hypocrisy & double standards should have no place in international politics. The poor of this world deserve better from us all!


Limited places available on May & June 2003 visits to the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Dates: 12th-16th May & 2nd-6th June

Accommodation: 4 nights Bed & Breakfast

Destinations: Reims, Strasbourg, Namur

Cost: £165.00 per person (excl. insurance)

Closing Date: 31/03/03

For further information, contact Louise:

Tel: 01603 781480 / 00 32 228 47953




1  Mar Address Suffolk Coastal Conference

2  Mar Appearance on Politics Show East

4  Mar Address Norwich City Council, Brussels

7  Mar Business Link Meeting on EU Funding

12 Mar Address EUW Essex

17 Mar Suffolk College Visit to Brussels

20 Mar East of England Europe Panel, Brussels

24 Mar Regional Journalist Visit to Brussels

27 Mar ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly, Congo


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 Promoted & Printed by Conservative MEPs in the EPP-ED Group in the European Parliament, Brussels: Khanbhai, Sturdy, Beazley & Van Orden