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C 163 E/236 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 6.6.

2001

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(30 January 2001)

Following the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) inspection mission to which the Honourable Member
refers, the Dutch authorities gave an initial reaction on 27 March 2000. This indicated the immediate
action taken to address the deficiencies that had been identified. This was followed by a detailed response
on 4 April 2000, which addressed each of the report’s recommendations.

In response to the Honourable Member’s specific questions, the Commission would like to offer the
following replies:

1. Taken in conjunction, the above two replies from the Dutch authorities provided fully satisfactory
assurances as to the action taken or planned in response to each of the above recommendations. In
addition, direct contact was taken with the Dutch Chief Veterinary Officer on 24 March 2000 to
discuss the follow-up action required of the Dutch authorities.

2. and 3. No follow-up mission has yet taken place.

4. In drawing up the Food and Veterinary Office’s mission programme for the second half of 2000, it
was necessary to decide on priorities for its control and inspection activities. In view of the satisfactory
nature of the responses from the Dutch authorities, and the findings of inspection missions to the
Netherlands in May and June 2000 in related food production sectors (processed meat product and
pig meat production), the need for an urgent follow-up mission to review the production of wild
game meat was not considered to have the same high priority as had originally been judged to be the
case. Instead, priority has been given, for example, to inspections on BSE controls. The situation is
being kept under close review, and further action will be taken where this is considered necessary to
ensure that satisfactory levels of consumer health protection are being achieved.

5. The Commission was not aware of the information to which the Honourable Member refers. It will
take immediate contact with the Dutch authorities in order to clarify the situation. A decision on
whether a further inspection mission is required will be taken in light of the outcome of this inquiry
and other pressing priorities.

6. Detailed rules exist in Community legislation as to the standards to be observed in Member States
during wild game meat processing and production. These include specific requirements for the
inspection of carcases and offals, which form an essential part of food safety controls in this sector.
A failure to respect the requirements of this legislation means that there is an increased risk that these
minimum standards will not be met. Member States are responsible for ensuring compliance with
these rules, and are fully aware of their obligations in this respect. As indicated above, contact will be
taken with the Dutch authorities in relation to the reports to which the Honourable Member refers, to
ensure that acceptable standards are being met.

(2001/C 163 E/277) WRITTEN QUESTION P-4046/00

by Lord Inglewood (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(20 December 2000)

Subject: Variation in rates of duty on fuel

Does the Commission consider that the variation in rates of duty on fuel in the various Member States
distorts intra-Community trade? If so, should low rates of tax be deemed to be unfair state aids?
6.6.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 163 E/237

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(7 February 2001)

As pointed out by the Honourable Member, there are significant differences in rates of excise duty on fuel
among the Member States.

As early as 1987, the Commission presented a number of proposals concerning indirect taxation in order
to allow the abolition of tax frontiers as part of the completion of the single market. In the case of excise
duties, the Commission was aiming at full harmonisation of duties on mineral oils by introducing a single
excise duty for each product throughout the Community. The aim of this approach was to counter
‘distortion of competition’, as referred to in the Honourable Member’s question. The proposal nevertheless
met with firm opposition from some Member States.

In 1989, the Commission made a new proposal offering the Member States greater flexibility, with
minimum rates, narrower rate bands and target rates per product. The Member States once more rejected
the proposal.

Finally, in 1992, the Member States decided unanimously to create a Community system for taxing
mineral oils, introducing a minimum rate of taxation for each mineral oil, according to its use
(fuel, industrial and commercial use, heating). The minimum rates have not been reviewed since 1992.

Noting the risk of distortion of competition among the Member States but also among the various sources
of energy, in 1997 the Commission proposed a draft directive on the taxation of energy products (1). The
proposal is still with the Council. The unanimity rule which applies to taxation has made it impossible to
adopt. The Commission nevertheless considers that its adoption is still a priority, for the proper
functioning of the single market and also because of the contribution it could make to attaining
environmental policy and transport objectives.

The setting of a lower level of excise duties on mineral oils by a Member State does not in itself lead to
non-observance of Community rules on competition. State aid could be allowed if certain specific sectors
benefited only within a Member State from provisions derogating from the general arrangements.

(1) OJ C 139, 6.5.1997.

(2001/C 163 E/278) WRITTEN QUESTION P-4048/00


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

(20 December 2000)

Subject: European money for nuclear power stations in the Ukraine

On 7 December the EBRD decided by a bare majority to give the Ukrainian government a loan
(of ca. € 240 million) for dismantling two nuclear power stations in Kmelnitzky and Rivne. The loan is
conditional on Euratom acting as cofinancier (with a loan of € 656 million).

There is a Memorandum of Understanding for this project dating from 1995, an explicit condition of
which is that the Ukraine should organise its energy supplies on the principle of ‘least cost planning’.
Using nuclear power stations does not, in fact, respect this principle.

Since the government in Kiev has done almost nothing since 1995 in the way of structural changes
to energy supplies, it may be concluded that the Ukraine is merely waiting for the EBRD/Euratom loan to
dismantle the K2R4 reactors, while using the situation of the Chernobyl reactors as a means of blackmail.