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

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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.
25. 2. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 60/29

1. Is the Commission aware of alternative means of reducing overcrowding on pig farms in the restricted areas
within a few weeks?

2. Does the Commission take the view that removing piglets from the sow at less than three weeks after
farrowing is unacceptable in animal welfare terms?

3. Where does the Netherlands decision stand in relation to EU rules and regulations? Will the Commission
make representations to the Netherlands on possible conflicts?

4. Is the Commission contributing financially to this arrangement? Is the Commission prepared to use
financial support mechanisms to induce the Netherlands to confine itself to more acceptable forms of
intervention?

5. Would a policy of preventive vaccination with marker vaccine not be preferable to the policy of buying-up
piglets?

6. Is this problem unique to the Netherlands or have other Member States already had to confront similar
problems? What position did the Commission take in such cases?

7. Is there a central reporting agency to which possible violations of European animal welfare rules can be
referred?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission


(10 June 1997)

1. The control measures to be applied by Member States in the event an outbreak of classical swine fever is
confirmed are laid down in Council Directive 80/217/EEC (1) introducing Community measures for the control
of classical swine fever which require stamping-out of infected herds, epidemiological investigations to detect
the source of infection and potential spread of virus from the infected herd, and the establishment of movement
restrictions. The movement restrictions shall apply to a protection zone with a minimum radius of 3 km around
the outbreak site and to a surveillance zone with a minimum radius of 10 km. The objective of these restrictions is
to prevent spread of the virus in pigs which may incubate classical swine fever but not show clinical signs of
disease.

The problem of overcrowding on pig holdings situated within established protection and surveillance zones is
taken into account by the provisions of the Directive. A ban on movement of pigs is introduced immediately
following confirmation of classical swine fever and the ban remains in force in the protection zone for a period of
21 days from the day of the completion of the preliminary cleaning and disinfection of the inspected holding. In
the surveillance zone the ban on movement lasts 7 days.

Following these initial prohibitions on movements it is possible to move pigs to reduce or avoid overcrowding.
Any movement carried out shall be subject to certain conditions which are specified by Directive 80/217/EEC.
The pig husbandry pattern in the area around an outbreak site will influence movement options.

2. If piglets must be removed from the sow before the age of three weeks, it is the best for the health and
welfare of the sow to remove them as soon as possible after birth. Sows from which piglets are removed within
14 days after birth may take longer to come into oestrus than in normal circumstances but there is no reason to
suppose that this is a permanent problem.

3. The special buy-out measure in the Netherlands for two week old piglets does not contravene Community
legislation on animal health, as long as the sanitary measures for the killing and removal of dead piglets from
holdings provided in the swine fever control Directive are applied.

Council Directive 91/630/EEC (2) laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs requires a minimum
weaning age of three weeks. The proposed measures however to kill piglets at an early age are a consequence of
disease control measures and cannot be considered as weaning practices. The proposed measure therefore does
not contravene Council Directive 91/630/EEC.

In Regulation (EC) No 413/97 (3) on exceptional support measures for the market in pigmeat in the Netherlands,
the intake of very young piglets at an age of two weeks was not provided in the beginning of this scheme.

The Dutch authorities have recently addressed a request to the Commission to include those animals in the
buying-in scheme provided by Regulation (EC) No 413/97. The Commission sees positive elements in this
request, because in view of the possible continuation of the disease, this change will allow a reduction of the
costs for these measures and will alleviate the capacity problems in the rendering industry.
C 60/30 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 25. 2. 98

The management committee for pigmeat on 5 May 1997 gave a positive opinion on the necessary amendment to
Regulation (EC) No 413/97.

4. In view of the fact that the intake of very young piglets is included now in the buying-in scheme of
Regulation (EC) No 413/97, the Community budget will pay 70% of the costs.

5. No marker vaccine against classical swine fever has yet obtained a marketing authorization within the
framework of the Community legislation laid down in Council Directive 90/677/EEC (4). This means that data is
not publicly available on the potency, innocuity and safety of such a vaccine. The Commission is aware of that
attempts are being made to produce a marker vaccine and an accompanying diagnostic test. As for any type of
vaccine, it is likely that classical swine fever marker vaccines would not have 100 % efficacy in all pigs and that
animals vaccinated whilst already incubating disease may not be protected and would be likely to shed virus.
When reviewing whether it is preferable to vaccinate or not, it should be kept in mind that in 1990 the
non-vaccination policy was adopted with the goal of a high health status throughout the Community and to
facilitate free movement of live pigs, pig meat and other products originating from pigs. Experience has shown
that the non-vaccination policy works extremely well in most Member States. It has, however also shown that
eradication of classical swine fever can be very costly in an area with a high density of pigs unless rapid in-depth
epidemiological investigations and effective eradication measures are enforced immediately at the time the virus
enters the area or at the time the primary outbreak is detected. The provisions of Council Directive 80/217/EEC
governing the control and eradication of classical swine fever do not foresee a return to vaccination as applied by
some Member States in the 1970s and early 1980s, but contain provisions for emergency vaccination following a
Commission decision. It is anticipated that a Member State which might make a request for an emergency
vaccination based on the use of a conventional or marker vaccine would study the advantages and disadvantages
of such a vaccination for a specified pig population or area and then decide whether vaccination would be
preferable or not.

6. Until now, no other Member State has requested the inclusion of very young piglets in the exceptional
market support measures. However, the extent of the current outbreak of classical swine fever in the Netherlands
is the most serious ever seen in the Community. It is therefore justifiable to examine new measures and methods.

7. Member States are primarily responsible for the enforcement of the rules governing the welfare of farm
animals laid down in Community legislation. Cases where it is alleged that a Member State is failing to observe
its responsibility may however be referred to the Commission as complaints.

(1) OJ L 47, 21.1.1980.


(2) OJ L 340, 11.12.1991.
(3) OJ L 62, 4.3.1997.
(4) OJ L 363, 27.12.1990.

(98/C 60/55) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1608/97

by José Valverde López (PPE) to the Commission

(7 May 1997)

Subject: Cohesion Fund investment in Andalusia

Following repeated requests by the European Parliament, the Commission has laid down conditions by which
Member States, regions and local authorities must publicize any measures subsidised by the Cohesion Fund.

Despite this, the public still knows very little about measures supported by Community funding. It can be
difficult, even for Members of the European Parliament, to obtain initial information or any follow-up.

Can the Commission provide details of investment made by the Cohesion Fund in Andalusia, in terms of
projects, locations, amounts and completion dates, as well as a summary of the monitoring reports?