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17. 3.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 82/19

2. Community approval procedures for placing on the market of GMOs (in particular Directive
90/220/EEC (2) and the novel foods Regulation (EC) 258/97 (3) require a detailed scientific risk assessment and
no GMOs are authorized unless they are considered, on the basis of available scientific evidence, to be safe for
humans and the environment. The scientific basis for such assessment is continually up-dated according to
scientific and technological progress. The Commission recognizes fully that post-release monitoring can, in
some cases, contribute to a precautionary approach. Thus, in December 1996, when the Commission proposed to
approve the deliberate release and marketing of the genetically modified maize (Zea Mays L.), it also decided to
initiate a monitoring project for the possible development of insect resistance to the Bt-toxin.

3. The Commission launched earlier this year a new approach to scientific advice in the field of consumer
health and food safety (4) in order to strengthen the scientific basis of Community initiatives. In particular, this
move aims at ensuring the excellence of the relevant scientific advisory committees, their independence from
socio-economic and political influences as well as transparency of their working procedures and advice.

4. The novel foods Regulation, which entered into force in May 1997, establishes a framework for labelling
novel foods and novel food ingredients produced from GMOs. In addition, the Commission recently introduced a
labelling requirement for GMOs which will be notified for placing on the market under Directive 90/220/EEC.
Labelling requirements are also under consideration by the Commission in agricultural sectors such as animal
feed and seeds. In addition the Commission has decided to develop a general labelling approach which will be
based upon strict science and will include mandatory labelling to indicate the presence of GMO material. It will
be implemented both through existing and new legislation to be introduced as necessary.

(1) COM(97) 142.


(2) OJ L 117, 8.5.1990.
(3) OJ L 43, 14.2.1997.
(4) COM(97) 183 final.

(98/C 82/26) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1914/97


by Amedeo Amadeo (NI) to the Council
(5 June 1997)

Subject: Community system for fisheries and aquaculture

The ‘Proposal for a Council Regulation amending Regulation (EEC) No 3760/92 establishing a Community
system for fisheries and aquaculture’ (COM(96)0350 final − 96/0183 CNS) (1) is approved by the Committee on
the grounds that it clarifies the arrangements laid down by Regulation 3760/92 (2).

Will the Council take rigorous account of the level of resources in Community waters when allocating fishing
catches to third countries and consider how a relative balance between the fishing activities of each Member
State can be guaranteed in allocating catches?

(1) OJ C 316, 25.10.1996, p. 13.


(2) OJ L 389, 31.12.1992, p. 1.

Answer
(17 October 1997)

The Council can assure the Honourable Member that it always takes account of the principles of conservation of
ressources and relative stability of Member States’ fishing activities.
C 82/20 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 17. 3. 98

Hence, when quantities are set for exchanges of fishing possibilities with third States, full account is taken of
scientific opinions on the level of resources, and quotas are allocated on the basis of the principle of relative
stability.

(98/C 82/27) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1922/97


by Mark Watts (PSE) to the Commission
(4 June 1997)

Subject: Delays in the granting of legal aid in Spain

Is the Commission aware of delays affecting British nationals seeking legal aid in Spain in order to allow an
inquest to be carried out? These delays are obviously causing a great deal of distress to the family involved.

What action is the Commission taking to ensure that such delays are eliminated and that nationals from all EU
countries are treated equally and as quickly as possible?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission


(9 September 1997)

The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to the replies it gave to written questions E-2388/96 (1)
and E-2866/96 (2), where it stated it has no direct competence under the EC Treaty to intervene regarding national
rules on awarding legal aid in the Member States, unless there are issues of discrimination on grounds of
nationality or other infringements of Community law or obstacles to its enforcement. Seen as matters pertaining
to judicial cooperation between Member States, general legal aid matters are, however, included in the list of
initiatives attached to the Commission's work programme for 1997 in relation to Title VI of the Treaty on
European union, and the Commission is therefore already looking into the matter.

The delays inherent in the procedure of granting legal aid may vary from one Member State to another.
According to the Court of justice, disparities in treatment which may result from divergences between the laws of
the various Member States, are not to be regarded as discrimination on grounds of nationality in the meaning of
Article 6 of the EC Treaty, so long as they affect all persons subject to them in accordance with objective criteria
and without regard to their nationality (3).

However, in situations falling within the field of application of the EC Treaty, national provisions or practices of
Member States' administrations resulting, for example, in more cumbersome procedures or longer delays being
applied to nationals from other Member States solely on grounds of nationality would constitute a discrimination
prohibited by the Treaty.

The Commission is not aware of any specific problem encountered by British nationals trying to obtain legal aid
in Spain. According to the Spanish legislation concerning legal aid (statute n:o 1/96 of 10 January 1996 and
decree RD 2103/96 of 20 September 1996) nationals from other Member States are placed on an equal footing
with Spanish nationals. The Commission is also not aware that delays encountered by British nationals for
obtaining legal aid in Spain would be longer than those for Spanish nationals.

(1) OJ C 60, 26.2.1997.


(2) OJ C 72, 7.3.1997.
(3) Judgment of 28 June 1978 in Case 1/78, Kenny.