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C 60/64 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 25. 2.


Will the Commission restrict the regulation and its annexes to the establishment of clearly defined minimum
requirements for conditions in agricultural holdings?

Will it also take into account regional differences in natural and climate conditions within the EU and provide for
national derogations which do not result in distortions of competition?

(1) OJ C 293, 5.10.1996, p. 23.

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(16 July 1997)

The Commission considers that the Annex to its proposal for a Council Regulation supplementing Regulation
(EEC) No 2092/91 on organic production of agricultural products and indications referring thereto on
agricultural products and foodstuffs to include livestock production (1) strikes the right balance between on the
one hand the need to have detailed rules to define the characteristics of the method of production and on the other
sufficiently flexible rules to take account of the diversity of the conditions of production throughout the
Community. However, in connection with certain technical aspects, the Commission accepted improvements
proposed by Parliament which it will soon introduce in a proposal for an amendment.

The Commission is reticent to introduce national derogations into the Regulation since these are likely to create
distortions of competition between producers in the various Member States. However, in the case of some very
specific and limited aspects, the Commission accepted amendments proposed by Parliament, permitting Member
States to accept, for a transitional period, certain national practices with a view to harmonising them before the
end of the transitional period.

(1) Doc. COM(96) 366.

(98/C 60/97) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1899/97

by Amedeo Amadeo (NI) to the Commission
(4 June 1997)

Subject: ONP [Open Network Provision]

The ‘Proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on the application of open network provision
(ONP) to voice telephony and on universal service for telecommunications in a competitive environment’
(COM(96) 0419 final − 96/0226 COD) (1) sets out the scope of the universal telecommunications service to be
made available to all users in the EU and calls on the Member States to take the necessary measures to ensure that
the service is affordable, taking into account the national context. The directive also establishes harmonized
conditions for the provision in the European Union of fixed public telephone networks and publicly available
telephone services.

This proposal comes under the regulatory framework for the telecommunications sector, which is being put in
place with a view to opening up markets and introducing free competition after 1998.

Whilst the definition of universal service set out in the proposed directive is acceptable, the Commission is asked
to ensure that universal service is not necessarily confused with minimum service since this could cause citizens
to form the opinion that Europe only guarantees these minimum rights?

(1) OJ C 371, 9.12.1996, p. 22.

Answer given by Mr Bangemann on behalf of the Commission

(16 July 1997)

The proposal for a European Parliament and Council Directive on the application of open network provision
(ONP) to voice telephony and on universal service for telecommunications in a competitive environment (1)
(replacing European Parliament and Council Directive 95/62/EC) (2) closely defines the services to which all
users are to have access as part of the universal service.
25. 2. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 60/65

The general definition of universal service set out in Article 2 had already been contained in the proposal for a
European Parliament and Council Directive on interconnection in telecommunications with regard to ensuring
universal service and interoperability through application of the principle of open network provision (ONP) (3).
That definition was not amended during the joint decision making procedure.

In addition that Directive sets out the conditions attached to financing the universal service. It may, if necessary,
be financed by contributions by the new entrants on the liberalised telecommunications market. However, those
contributions must not constitute a dissuasive market access cost nor an obstacle to the development of
competition; The experience of the countries that have liberalised their telecommunications market shows,
indeed, that, where it is possible, full competition guarantees high-performance services at the best prices for
individual customers; The level of service guaranteed by the draft directive on voice telephony takes account of
that balance between the scope for financing the service and the need to expand the competition.

The use of the term ‘minimal’ guarantees access to the services described to all individual customers while
leaving room for more developed services. It should be noted that the service level guaranteed in the draft
directive on voice telephony is higher than the service level currently available, at an affordable price, in certain
regions of the Community. This is particularly the case as regards availability, quality, directories, public
telephones and specific facilities for disabled users and users having specific needs. The outcome is that the
overall ‘minimum’ to which the draft directive refers is very clearly greater than the minimum available today to
all of the Union's citizens.

(1) COM(97) 287 final.

(2) OJ L 321, 30.12.1995.
(3) OJ C 313, 24.11.1995.

(98/C 60/98) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1905/97

by Amedeo Amadeo (NI) to the Commission
(4 June 1997)

Subject: Activities of insurance intermediaries

Neither the 1976 directive on the activities of insurance brokers and intermediaries, nor the 1991 recommen-
dation on insurance intermediaries led to the effective regulation of the activities of this type of operator. Unless
action is taken swiftly, the creation of a single market in the insurance sector will remain an illusion, both for
consumers and for the industry.

Will the Commission adopt an EU directive without delay harmonizing existing legislation in the different
Member States so that any insurance intermediary, operating legally in his or her country of origin, can easily
operate in another EU Member State, as is the case for insurance companies (which benefit from the single
licence system)?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(1 July 1997)

Given the need for proper professional advice and the importance of purchasing correct insurance cover, the
Commission has always recognised the valuable role played by insurance intermediaries in the distribution of
insurance products in the Member States.

The Honourable Member is correct to point out that the Council Directive 77/921/EEC of 13 December 1997 on
measures to facilitate the effective exercise of freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services in
respect of the activities of insurance agents and brokers (ex ISIC Groups 630), and, in particular, transitional
measures in respect of those activities (1) and the Recommendation 92/48/EEC on insurance intermediaries (2)
regulate the activities of insurance intermediaries in the single market. Although the latter measure, as a
recommendation, has no binding character on Member States, at the time of its adoption the Commission
indicated that, after the expiry of the three year period foreseen in the recommendation, it would examine the
progress of Member States in bringing their national legislation into line with the recommendation. If such
progress were insufficient the Commission would consider whether binding measures were required.