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C 60/88 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 25. 2.


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

Is it possible for this concession to be reintroduced and if so, what would be the likely timescale for its
25. 2. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 60/89

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(24 July 1997)

Community law (1) provides that a citizen of the Union may enter and remain in another Member State on the
basis of a valid identity document (an identity card or a valid passport). Member States shall, acting in
accordance with their laws, issue to such nationals, or renew, an identity card or passport. The passport must be
valid at least for all Member States and for countries through which the holder must pass when travelling
between Member States. Where a passport is the only document on which the holder may lawfully leave the
country, its period of validity shall be not less than five years.

In the past, some Member States have signed bilateral agreements recognising the British visitor’s passport as a
valid travel document for a short period. As these agreements were negotiated and signed solely by the Member
States concerned, they remain sovereign to renounce them.

(1) Articles 2 and 3, Directive 68/360/EEC on the abolition of restrictions on mouvement and residence within the Community for workers of
Member States and their families − OJ L 257, 19.10.1968.

(98/C 60/127) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2063/97

by Mark Watts (PSE) to the Commission
(16 June 1997)

Subject: Restrictions on size and weight of vehicles

Like many other towns and villages, the medieval town and Cinque Port of Sandwich in Kent, is suffering from a
proliferation much larger and heavier lorries, causing immense physical and environmental damage to both the
fabric of the town and the quality of life for residents.

The Town Council is advocating a reduction in the size and weight of vehicles whilst recognizing the need to
maintain the vitality and viability of towns.

It therefore suggests encouragement should be given to the establishment of distribution centres at strategic
points for goods to be transferred to smaller vehicles for deliveries and collections in towns and villages.

Could the Commission comment on the suggestion, outline experience elsewhere and set out what measures are
being taken to mitigate the environmental impact of heavy goods vehicles whilst maintaining commercial

Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission

(29 July 1997)

Council Directive 96/53/EEC lays down general rules on the maximum weights of road vehicles, that will ensure
free circulation for international journeys throughout the Community. This Directive also lays down maximum
dimensions for all vehicles in the Community (1). However, the issue of local restrictions on the maximum
weight or dimensions of vehicles for reasons of traffic safety or environmental protection is an issue of national
or local competence, subject to the principle of non-discrimination against the nationality of the vehicle.

The Commission recognises that large and heavy lorry traffic causes specific problems in urban areas, especially
in historic city centres. It is in favour of reducing the impact of trucks on urban environment and on the quality of
life. Therefore the Commission has made proposals for fair and efficient road pricing based on the ‘polluter pays’
principle, it promotes combined transport rail operations to encourage the modal shift of freight traffic from
roads and it favours innovative experiences including urban logistics (e.g. distribution centres for goods) which
diminish the need for truck movements in cities. In this context, the Commission has promoted under its
programme of co-operation in the field of scientific and technical research (COST 321) research on urban goods
transport, with findings presented at a seminar on ‘Goods transport in the sustainable city’ (Vitoria, 6-7 April
1995). Furthermore the Commission supports the activities of a network of 60 municipalities across Europe (car
free cities network) which has addressed the problems related to commercial traffic in urban areas through the