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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 268 E/123

(2003/C 268 E/122) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0696/03

by Juan Naranjo Escobar (PPE-DE) to the Commission
(10 March 2003)

Subject: Traffic imbalances between France and Spain following the opening of the Somport Tunnel

France has not reciprocated the concern shared by all Spanish governments to get the Sagunto-Zaragoza-
Somport-Toulouse-Bordeaux route treated as an EU priority route.

Despite the widespread hopes that the opening of the modern Somport Tunnel would relieve the Irún and
la Junquera passes, this has in fact not solved the problem posed by the enormous volume of heavy vehicle
traffic, since France has failed to meet its commitments and the northern exit is a local road which passes
through town centres.

Can the Commission arbitrate and appeal to the French authorities to meet their commitment to improve
the section of the N-134 road which links the northern exit of the tunnel with the Bordeaux-Toulouse

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(14 April 2003)

The Commission is aware of the congestion caused by heavy goods vehicles at the principal crossings of
the Pyrenees.

In this respect, the opening of the Somport tunnel was a first step towards spreading the traffic more
evenly but, as the Honourable Member rightly states, access on the French side remains the principal factor
limiting development of this new trans-European route. Accordingly, the Commission is providing
financial support, from the trans-European transport network budget and as proposed by the French
authorities, for upgrading the RN 134 road to the tunnel. However, although Article 155 of the EC Treaty
states that the Community ‘shall establish a series of guidelines covering the objectives, priorities and broad
lines of measures envisaged in the sphere of trans-European networks; these guidelines shall identify
projects of common interest’ the Member States nevertheless remain fully responsible for implementation
of the projects. Consequently, the Commission can only regret that the planning of a trans-European
project of such importance has not shown the same level of commitment on the part of the two states

The Commission also considers that in the medium to long term credible, economically viable options for
long-distance freight services will have to be put in place, bringing significant relief to congestion at the
crossings of the Pyrenees on both the Atlantic and Mediterranean sides. The Pyrenees must not be an
insuperable obstacle to trade on the internal market.

(2003/C 268 E/123) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0716/03

by Rosa Miguélez Ramos (PSE) to the Commission

(11 March 2003)

Subject: ‘Prestige’: stronger legal classification of environmental crime and maritime pollution

The ‘Prestige’ disaster calls for a forthright response in order to prevent further such disasters. Various
organisations are therefore calling for much stronger criminal classification of environmental crime and
maritime pollution.

The Spanish press (La Voz de Galicia of 4 February 2003, p. 6) has reported a meeting of the Spanish,
Italian and French Ministers of Justice in which ‘they agreed to support the EU Council’s initiatives and step
up the criminal prosecution of those involved in polluting European coasts’.

What steps is the Commission taking to this end?

C 268 E/124 Official Journal of the European Union EN 7.11.2003

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(23 April 2003)

The Commission shares the concerns of the Honourable Member about sanctions against pollution of the
European coastline. For this reason, it proposed on 5 March 2003 a Directive of the Parliament and of the
Council on ship-source pollution and on the introduction of sanctions, including criminal sanctions, for
pollution offences (1)

In line with the Commission’s proposal for a Directive on the protection of the environment through
criminal law (2), the proposed Directive establishes that marine pollution by ships is a criminal offence
when committed intentionally or through gross negligence. Sanctions will be applicable to any person 
including the master, the owner, the operator and the charterer of a ship and to the classification society 
who has been found to have caused or contributed to illegal pollution intentionally or by means of gross
negligence. The penalties may, in the most serious cases, include jail sentences.

The proposal is also an effort by the Commission to try to stop the thousands of deliberate discharges of
waste and cargo residues from ships around Europe (3). The proposed Directive provides detailed rules for
the discharge of polluting substances, including oil and chemicals, and makes any violation of those rules
illegal in Union waters. In addition, it prohibits pollution on the high seas, irrespective of the flag of the

To fight effectively against the phenomena of ship-source pollution, the proposed mechanism should be
backed up by measures harmonising criminal penalties and improving judicial cooperation pursuant to
Title VI of the Treaty on European Union.

The Commission is, therefore, to present very soon a proposal for a Framework Decision that aims to
strengthen the criminal-law framework by approximating the provisions laid down by law or regulation in
the Member States concerning ship-source pollution offences and to facilitate and encourage cooperation
between judicial authorities to repress these offences. More specifically, these complementing provisions
are relating to a harmonised minimum level of maximum penalties; jurisdiction of the courts; criminal
investigations in the port state; joint investigation teams; the commencement of proceedings; cooperation
between Member States; the notification of information; the designation of contact points.

The Commission believes that these proposals for a Directive and a Framework Decision will fill significant
regulatory gaps in Union regulation and will go a long way in establishing a culture of responsible
shipping in Union waters and beyond. The newly created European Maritime Safety Agency will assist the
Commission and Member States in establishing the information system required to effectively implement
this mechanism.

(1) COM(2003) 92 final.

(2) OJ C 180, 26.6.2001 as amended by OJ C 20 E, 28.1.2003.
(3) 390 oil slicks in the Baltic Sea and 596 in the North Sea in 2001, 1638 in the Mediterranean in 1999.

(2003/C 268 E/124) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0724/03

by Rosa Miguélez Ramos (PSE) to the Commission

(11 March 2003)

Subject: ‘Prestige’: sensitive sea areas

On 21 November 2002, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on the ‘Prestige’ disaster off the
coast of Galicia. Paragraph 11 reads:

Calls on the Commission, in agreement with the Member States, to draw up a list of European sea-
fishing areas which warrant special protection by virtue of the nature of their marine ecosystems, their
fishery, shellfish and aquaculture resources and their high level of dependency on fisheries;