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25. 2.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 60/87

Could the European Commission investigate that German contractors are being sub jected to similar check-ups
by the German government authorities? Could this be an instance of discrimination by the German government
authorities against British companies, undermining the Single Market by blocking the free movement of goods,
services and people?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission


(30 July 1997)

The Honourable Member's question is concerned, in general terms, with checks on the activities of a British
company in Germany.

It is not clear from the question whether the inspections carried out by the German authorities should be
examined from the view point of right of establishment (Article 52 of the EC Treaty), assuming that the British
company has been established in Germany for almost five years, or from that of freedom to provide services
across national frontiers on a temporary basis (Article 59 of theTreaty).

In any case, both Article 52 and Article 59 require the abolition of all restrictions which discriminate against
Community nationals on grounds of nationality. Discriminatory measures can be justified only for imperative
reasons of public policy, public security or public health. What is more, such reasons may be invoked only within
the limits imposed by the Court of Justice in the light of the principle of proportionality. Within this framework,
the authorities in Member States must comply with Community law.

The Commission has insufficient information to decide on this specific case and to give a full reply. It is prepared
to examine the question in greater detail on receipt of further information.

(98/C 60/125) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2061/97


by Sirkka-Liisa Anttila (ELDR) to the Commission
(9 June 1997)

Subject: Problems of transparency, bias and translation in connection with the preparation of Finland’s Natura
2000 programme

The Finnish Environment Ministry and regional environment centres have prepared the Natura 2000 programme
as required by the EU’s nature protection directives. Landowners in particular feel that those preparations have
been carried out in an unfair manner.

When preparing Finland’s Natura 2000 programme the environmental authorities completely ignored the
requirements laid down in the EU’s wild birds and Habitat directives, with regard to protected areas, that the
significance of the protection measures should also be considered from the economic, social and cultural
standpoints which are very important for local people. The landowners have first-hand experience of these
shortcomings.

The translation errors in the Finnish version which alter the substance of the text have also complicated the
situation (e.g. Annex III(B)(d): global assessment translated into Finnish as ‘yleisarviointi’ (’general
assessment’) instead of kokonaisarviointi; Article 1(g)(iv): endemic translated into Finnish as ‘paikallisia’
(’local’) instead of kotoperäisiä).

The central principles guiding the Commission in its work should be those of impartiality and independence. In
practice, this should mean that problems of bias do not arise. The person monitoring Finland’s Natura 2000
programme on behalf of the Commission is an official in the Finnish Environment Ministry, who may not be
impartial.

How does the Commission intend to remedy without delay the problems which have arisen in connection with
the preparation of Finland’s Natura 2000 programme as regards:
1. its failure to comply with the EU’s wild birds and Habitat directives;
2. the translation errors;
3. the issue of the possible bias of the official monitoring the programme on behalf of the Commission?
C 60/88 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 25. 2. 98

Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission

(30 June 1997)

The Honourable Member is referring to the first phase of the process set out in Directive 92/43/EEC on the
conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora (1) for setting up the Natura 2000 network. Article
4 (1) of the Directive specifies that during this phase each Member State must propose a list of sites based on the
scientific criteria laid down in the Directive's Annex III. The Finnish authorities are complying fully with the
Directive in drawing up their national list on the basis of the scientific merits of the sites concerned. Only when
the necessary conservation measures are being decided on for the selected Natura 2000 sites will economic,
social and cultural factors be taken into account, as specified in Article 6.

The Directive contains a number of provisions which were difficult to translate accurately into Finnish, due to a
lack of necessary expertise prior to Finland's entry into the Community. The Honourable Member cites two such
examples. In Annex III B(d), the term ‘global assessment’ has been translated into Finnish as ‘general
assessment’ instead of ‘total assessment’. It has indeed been recognised that greater clarity is needed in
translating this term; in fact, the Commission and the Member States already use the term ‘kokonaisarviointi’, as
suggested by the Honourable Member, in the standard form used for recording the details of each Natura 2000
site. In Article 1(g)(iv), the work ‘endemic’ should also have been translated as suggested by the Honourable
Member. However, this error appears to be of minor consequence. The word ‘endemic’ is only used to describe
species already included in the Annexes to the Directive. For this term also, the translation suggested by the
Honourable Member is used in the standard form mentioned above.

The Community list of Finnish sites to be included in the Natura 2000 network will be approved by the
Commission itself. The prior evaluation of national lists will be on a collective basis: for each biogeographical
region this will involve the Member States, the Commission, the European Environment Agency (through its
nature conservation topic centre), independent scientists and representatives of various specialist non-
governmental organisations.

There is nothing unusual in a national expert from the Finnish Environment Ministry being on secondment with
the Commission. Such experts are used to make up for a lack of specialist personnel in certain areas. The
Commission is surprised that the neutrality of the expert concerned should be called into question. Indeed his
presence, and that of his colleagues on secondment from other Member States, allows a high level of local
knowledge to be brought to bear on the group work being undertaken.

(1) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992.

(98/C 60/126) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2062/97

by Mark Watts (PSE) to the Commission

(16 June 1997)

Subject: 24-hour travel permit for day-trippers’ travel to France and/or Belgium

Until fairly recently it was possible to obtain in the UK a 24-hour permit which would allow the holder to travel to
France and/or Belgium on a day trip without the need for a full British passport. This permit has now been
withdrawn and the loss is having a significant impact on the day trip business in London and the south-east of
England.

Is it possible for this concession to be reintroduced and if so, what would be the likely timescale for its
implementation?