C 386/166

Official Journal of the European Communities



Joint answer to Written Questions E-1904/98 and E-1905/98 given by Sir Leon Brittan on behalf of the Commission (16 July 1998) The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its joint answer to written questions E-1343/98 and 1344/98 by Mr Sanchez-Neyra (1) and to the reply it gave to oral question H-573/98 by Mr Marset Campos during question time at Parliament’s June 1998 part-session (2) for a detailed explanation of the main elements of the agreement reached between the Community and the United States at the Summit in London on 18 May 1998. The agreement reached is a package of elements that offer the real prospect for a lasting resolution of the differences with the United States over the Helms-Burton Act and the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act, and the broader problem of extraterritorial sanctions. However, in spite of this agreement, the Commission’s position on these Acts remains that they are contrary to international law. At no point did the Community acknowledge their legitimacy. The Commission has fully reserved its right to resume the World trade organisation (WTO) case in the event of action being taken against Community citizens or companies under these Acts. The agreement is of a political nature and does not in any way give validity to the illegal provisions of the American laws in question. The full implementation of the agreement reached between the Community and the United States at the Summit in London on 18 May 1998 depends on the support of the American Congress. It does contain elements that form the basis for paving the way for a permanent neutralisation of the Helms-Burton Act and avoiding similar acts from being enacted in the future. But the Community and Member States as well as the United States will have to implement the deal once the presidential waiver authority under Title IV of the Helms-Burton Act is adopted and exercised. The agreement fully guarantees the national sovereignty of the Member States. The understanding on disciplines regarding investment in illegally expropriated property provides that it is the Member States and notably their agencies responsible for deciding on government commercial assistance and support which will carry out the main part of the agreed disciplines. As for countries that have engaged in repeated expropriations, including Cuba, the Commission has agreed to be especially careful when assessing the possibility of providing government assistance in such cases. Existing investments are not affected by the disciplines, and with respect to future investment in property expropriated in the past, such as in Cuba, there will be no investment ban, only some restraints on government assistance.
(1 ) (2 ) See page 115. Debates of Parliament (June 1998).

(98/C 386/229)

WRITTEN QUESTION P-1915/98 by Jean-Antoine Giansily (UPE) to the Commission (9 June 1998)

Subject: Implementation of the 1998 budget On 18 December 1997, at second reading of the 1998 draft budget, the European Parliament adopted Amendment 1 on the institutions’ administrative expenditure (Chapter A-11, Staff in active employment), which stipulated that the following text be added to footnote 4 to the column entitled ‘Of which permanent posts in the Supply Agency’: ‘The duties of Deputy Director-General of the Supply Agency are carried out by an A3 official appointed Deputy Director-General pursuant to Article 53 of the European Atomic Energy Community Treaty’. Can the Commission say on what date, as part of its task of implementing the budgetary authority’s decisions, it officially made that appointment?



Official Journal of the European Communities

C 386/167

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission (8 July 1998) The post of Deputy Director-General is provided for by Chapter VI (Article 53) of the Euratom Treaty, which lays down that ‘the Agency shall be under the supervision of the Commission, which shall ... appoint its DirectorGeneral and Deputy Director-General’. Since the signing of the Euratom Treaty, the Commission has noted that the role of the Agency has been scaled down to such an extent that its list of posts includes only 24 permanent posts, eight of them in Category A. The post of Deputy Director-General, which has never featured in the organisation chart, must be created before the Commission can fill the post. So far, the Commission has not made this change to the Agency’s Directory.

(98/C 386/230)

WRITTEN QUESTION P-1916/98 by Astrid Thors (ELDR) to the Commission (9 June 1998)

Subject: Competition issues with a view to electronic and other means of payment In view of the rapid development of means of payment, including cards and electronic facilities, when will the Commission state its position on whether the situation with regard to competition between firms providing credit card or electronic payment services is satisfactory?

Answer given by Mr Van Miert on behalf of the Commission (8 July 1998) The Commission is currently finalising an examination of the rules of two major international credit card schemes, as to their compatibility to Community law. These rules were notified to the Commission in order to obtain a negative clearance or an exemption within the meaning of Article 85 of the EC Treaty. In addition to these notifications the Commission is also examining several formal and informal complaints, in particular the complaint made by the European retailers organisation Eurocommerce, directed against one or more elements of these international credit card schemes. The Commission hopes to take a formal decision in these two cases in the second half of 1998. When the Commission has stated its views on these pending individual cases, it intends to issue shortly after a notice in which its position with regard to the main competitive issues in payment card systems will be clarified in a more general context.

(98/C 386/231)

WRITTEN QUESTION P-1941/98 by Lyndon Harrison (PSE) to the Commission (11 June 1998)

Subject: Public holidays Given there are only 50 days a year, clear of national, public holidays, where the whole of the European Union and its single market is open for business, will the Commission indicate what it might do to improve the business environment by rationalizing the timing of such public holidays across the Union? Does the Commission agree that such measures should not detract from the holiday complement currently enjoyed by Europe’s workforce?

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