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2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 53 E/97

Under English law, no appeal can be made to the House of Lords, the highest court in the United
Kingdom, as of right. According to Section 1 of the Administration of Justice (Appeals) Act 1934 (1) an
appeal can be made to the House of Lords only if leave of the Court of Appeal or leave of the House of
Lords is obtained first. In practice, therefore, the situation may occur where both the Court of Appeal and
the House of Lords refuse leave to appeal to the House of Lords. The judgment of the Court of Appeal
against which leave was sought to appeal thus becomes final and no other court can be seised of that
dispute between the parties. As the Honourable Member may be aware, a similar situation prevails in
Finland (2).

The Commission has received a number of complaints which allege in effect that Section 1 of the
Administration of Justice (Appeals) Act 1934 is contrary to Article 234 of the Treaty. All of the
complaints to date concern cases dealing with the beer tie. They are currently under investigation.

(1) 24 & 25 Geo 5 c 40.

(2) Sixteenth Annual Report on monitoring the application of Community law, 1998, submitted by the Commission on
9 July 1999 (OJ C 354, 7.12.1999, pp 1 to 185).

(2001/C 53 E/127) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1193/00

by Christel Fiebiger (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(12 April 2000)

Subject: Distortion of competition caused by differences in the price of agricultural diesel

In the EU the price of diesel fuel used to power agricultural vehicles varies greatly. In France, for example,
it is € 0,40, in the Netherlands € 0,35 and in Denmark € 0,31, whilst farmers in Germany have had to
pay € 0,61 since 1 January 2000.

Does the Commission see any opportunity for creating a level playing field in the area of Community
agriculture? How could distortions of competition in this area be removed?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(29 May 2000)

The prices of diesel used as fuel in agriculture for vehicles such as tractors and stationary machinery, vary
considerably from one Member State to another. Fuel prices differ, to a certain extent, for fiscal reasons
and in particular the way each Member State applies the existing fiscal provisions included in the
Community legislation.

In fact, Community legislation, in particular Council Directive 92/81/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the
harmonisation of the structures of excise duties on mineral oils (1), provides, under its Article 8(2f), the
possibility for Member States to apply total or partial exemptions or reductions in the rate of duty to
mineral oils to be used, under fiscal control, exclusively in agricultural and horticultural works, in forestry
and inland fisheries. Therefore, Member States are entitled not to apply the full minimum rate of excise
duty on diesel used as propellant, which is fixed at € 245 per 1 000 litres (Article 5 (1) of Council
Directive 92/82/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the approximation of the rates of excise duties on mineral
oils (1)), but to apply a rate ranging between € 0 and € 245.

The Commission presented in March 1997 a proposal for a Council directive restructuring the Community
framework for the taxation of energy products (2), the main thrust of which was the need to modernise the
Community system for the taxation of mineral oils, to extend its scope to all energy products as well as to
allow the Community to reap the full benefit of the single market and meet its environmental objectives.
C 53 E/98 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 20.2.2001

The proposal provides, under its article 7, a reduced minimum rate of excise duty to be applied
Community-wide on diesel used as propellant in agriculture, the level of which should be fixed at first
stage at 32 € per 1000 litres. This proposal should contribute considerably, if adopted, to the approxima-
tion of taxation levels applied by individual Member States in the area of fuels used for agricultural

This proposal has not yet been adopted by the Council. The Commission has made a considerable effort so
far to make this adoption possible and has declared its willingness to examine compromise solutions aimed
at reducing the economic effect on certain Member State economies. These may include provisions
providing for arrangements such as reduced minimum rates of taxation for certain energy products,
transitional periods or tax exemptions or reductions for energy intensive industries.

Finally, on the issue of VAT, given the current conditions (no approximation of tax rates, numerous special
arrangements, options, derogations), it is unlikely that any significant progress towards a single rate to be
applied Community-wide will be made in the immediate future. VAT rates currently applied on diesel used
for agricultural purposes vary between 12 and 25 %.

(1) OJ L 316, 31.10.1992.

(2) OJ C 139, 6.5.1997.

(2001/C 53 E/128) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1200/00

by Adriana Poli Bortone (UEN) to the Commission

(12 April 2000)

Subject: The commune of Casarano

On 21 March 2000 a demonstration was held in the commune of Casarano (in the province of Lecce),
called ‘Fifth day of remembrance and commitment in honour of the victims of Mafia-type organisations’,
sponsored principally by the European Commission.

Can the Commission say how much and what form of aid it used to support this initiative?

Answer given by Mr Prodi on behalf of the Commission

(27 June 2000)

The Commission would inform the Honourable Member that it provided no moral, financial or logistical
support to the demonstration in question. Acting in a personal capacity, however, the Commission
President lent his patronage to the event.

(2001/C 53 E/129) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1201/00

by Alexander de Roo (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(12 April 2000)

Subject: Construction of residential tower blocks on the Ijmeer

Luxury tower blocks are under construction in Almere in the area beyond the dyke along the Ijmeer. The
Ijmeer is covered by the wild birds directive and the habitats directive and it is also part of the national
ecological network.

Is it the Commission’s view that if there is no overriding interest (or at least if it has not been
demonstrated) building plans of this nature cannot go ahead?