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2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 151 E/123

What Community legislation exists to publicise the work of the EU institutions through the Member States’
media? Is publicising the work of the EU institutions the sole preserve of the Member States or do the
Commission’s departments take additional measures and, if so, what are they?

Answer given by Mr Prodi on behalf of the Commission

(8 December 2000)

The Community institutions together with the Member States provide the citizens with information on
Community policies and initiatives, decision-taking and the progress of European integration in order to
help bring them closer to the Community.

The Community budget has a title (B-3) specifically for communication and information activities; in 2000
it was allocated € 93,5 million.

An interinstitutional working party consisting of representatives of Parliament and the Commission lays
down the themes of common interest and coordinates information activities.

Information measures are implemented by the Commission and Parliament often in partnership with the
Member States. There are three types of measure: those carried out by the Representations in the Member
States (direct communication and dissemination of information), those carried out from Commission
headquarters (analyses of public opinion, publications on Community policies for the general public) and
those carried out in partnership with the Member States under agreements for information campaigns on
European citizenship (euro, Intergovernmental Conference).

(2001/C 151 E/138) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3292/00

by Mihail Papayannakis (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(25 October 2000)

Subject: Destruction of the wetland habitat of the Messolonghi lagoon

The Commission has been notified on numerous occasions of the damage and destruction caused to the
wetland habitat of the Messolonghi lagoon, which, inter alia, is protected under the Ramsar Convention.
Recent surveys and photographs of the lagoon show that there has been illegal development in the area
consisting of unauthorised construction of holiday homes which have also been supplied with electricity,
water and telephone-lines to consolidate the situation; work has even begun on the construction of a
sewerage system. Earth is also being dumped in the area on a daily basis, even within zone A of the
wetland, threatening the flora and fauna of the ecosystem. In view of the fact that this situation constitutes
a breach of the international Ramsar Convention and of Community Directives 74/409/EEC, 92/43/EEC
and 85/337/EEC, and that Greece has designated the Ambracian Gulf and the Messolonghi lagoon
protected areas pursuant to Article 4 of Directive 74/409/EEC, will the Commission say whether Greece
has notified it of the particular measures it has taken to protect those areas and what measures it has taken
to preserve the wetland habitat of the Messolonghi lagoon, an area of paramount environmental
importance? Will the Commission intervene to put an end to these constant violations?

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(14 December 2000)

The Messolunghi lagoon is part of a special protection area classified by Greece under Council Directive
79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds (1). The same area is also proposed as a site
of Community importance under Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of
natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (2).
C 151 E/124 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 22.5.2001

In view of the natural value of this wetland and its Community and international importance (Ramsar
Convention), appropriate measures must be taken by the Greek authorities for its protection and

It is the responsibility of the national authorities to monitor the unlawful activities reported by the
Honourable Member. However, these activities suggest that there has been a deterioration of the area and
on that basis the Commission will be contacting the Greek authorities in order to obtain information
about the action being taken to protect the Messolunghi lagoon and the specific measures being taken to
safeguard its ecological interests.

(1) OJ L 103, 25.4.1979.

(2) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992.

(2001/C 151 E/139) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3295/00

by Mathieu Grosch (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(25 October 2000)

Subject: Cross-subsidisation and setting-off of losses in the railway sector

In its notice on the application of the competition rules to the postal sector and on the assessment of
certain State measures relating to postal services (1), the Commission states that: ‘Avoiding cross-subsidisa-
tion leading to unfair competition is crucial for the development of the postal sector … . By contrast,
subsidising activities open to competition by allocating their costs to reserved services is likely to distort
competition in breach of Article 86. It could amount to an abuse by an undertaking holding a dominant
position within the Community. (p. 10). The Commission also considered that, in the context of the
application of Articles 90 and 92,’ the Member State concerned [was invited] to make sure that the postal
operator adopted an analytical cost-accounting system’ (p. 14). The Commission is currently examining the
accusation that the German Post Office operated setting-off of losses and cross-subsidisation of the parcels
service by means of monopoly revenue from the letter service.

In Belgium, the logistics and transport firm of ABX Logistics (goods transport by road) has emerged
alongside the national railway operator SNCB. ABX Logistics owns a large sector of the market in the
Benelux area in this transport sector and is in direct competition with private haulage firms, since it has
also purchased transport firms in Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Korea.

1. To what extent are the rules which the Commission has enacted in the field of postal services
pursuant to Articles 82 and 87 of the EC Treaty also applicable to the railway sector and to the case of
SNCB v. ABX Logistics?

2. Can the Commission guarantee that there is no instance in this case of unfair competition by means
of cross-subsidisation and setting-off of losses on the part of SNCB? If not, what measures does the
Commission propose to take?

3. Is ABX Logistics not under an obligation, in view of its economic activity, to introduce a separate
‘analytical cost-accounting system’?

(1) OJ C 39, 6.2.1998.

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(7 December 2000)

1. The notice mentioned by the Honourable Member sets out the Commission’s interpretation of
relevant Treaty provisions and the guiding principles according to which the Commission intends to
apply the competition rules in the postal sector in individual cases. Consequently, the notice does not a
priori apply directly to the transport sector. However, since Articles 82 and 87 (ex Articles 86 and 92) of