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C 60/28 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 25. 2.

98

For this reason it has set a target of 60 days within which payments should be made. This period runs from the
date on which the Commission receives an invoice or properly completed payment request to the date on which
its bank account is debited. The authorizing department is obliged to record the date on which the invoice is
received in the central accounting system, which means that statistics are available for each department to be able
to measure its performance in complying with payment deadlines. Data for the last financial year (1996) show
that the 60-day deadline is generally adhered to.

The Commission is not aware of any particular problems with payments to Portuguese bodies or associations.
However, the Honourable Member should note that the period counted by the Commission, which it keeps close
tabs on, runs up until the instruction for one of its bank accounts to be debited is recorded. The Commission uses
the SWIFT network for virtually all its payments. In practice this means that the money reaches the recipient
authority within 2 to 4 working days following the transfer order. The Commission has no control over how the
Community money is subsequently redistributed by the national authorities.

The Commission would ask the Honourable Member to notify it of the cases he is referring to where payment has
apparently taken an unusually long time, so that it can look into them more closely.

(98/C 60/53) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1572/97


by Amedeo Amadeo (NI) to the Commission
(6 May 1997)

Subject: Discrimination on the grounds of age

In the near future the European Union could enact provisions against discrimination on the grounds of age if the
proposals for reform debated at the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) are accepted by all the Member States
in June. To underpin the new legislation, a new Article on discrimination (6a) would be included in the Treaty,
whose scope would be extended to include discrimination on the grounds of sex, race, ethnic and social origin,
religion, disability and sexual orientation.

This is a highly topical subject at a time of particularly high unemployment and an almost exponential increase in
the average age of European citizens.

Can the Commission state whether there is any truth in the various press reports on this subject, as mentioned
above?

Answer given by Mr Santer on behalf of the Commission


(23 June 1997)

The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer to Written Question E-1560/97 by
Mr Ilaskivi (1).

(1) OJ C 373, 9.12.1997, p. 143.

(98/C 60/54) WRITTEN QUESTION P-1603/97


by Jan Sonneveld (PPE) to the Commission
(5 May 1997)

Subject: Netherlands buy-up rules for 2-week old piglets and impact on sow welfare

The Netherlands Agriculture Ministry proposes, in response to overcrowding on pig farms caused by swine fever
outbreaks in the Netherlands province of North Brabant, to buy up piglets at two weeks old. This will, however,
have an adverse impact on the welfare of sows. For reasons of animal welfare it is laid down in Netherlands
legislation that piglets should not be separated from sows at earlier than three weeks.