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C 76/130 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 11. 3.

98

(98/C 76/246) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2616/97


by Richard Howitt (PSE) to the Commission
(18 July 1997)

Subject: Banks and building societies − hidden payments on mortgage arrears

In response to a complaint from my constituent, Mr Hill of Leigh-on-Sea, who is seeking reimbursement from
the Cheltenham and Gloucester Building Society of unauthorised legal charges added to his mortgage, can the
Commission:
1. Advise of any other such complaints of hidden charges and fines resulting in increased arrears particularly
where they have resulted in repossessions;
2. Confirm if this practice by financial institutions is in breach of any EU directives;
3. Investigate all cases relating to this issue raising it in the appropriate forums.

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission


(9 September 1997)

1. The Commission has not received any other complaints on problems similar to the one raised by the
Honourable Member.

2. The Honourable Member's question does not make it possible to gain a clear idea of the practice in
question. In any case, the problem of charges and penalties connected with mortgage contracts is not covered by
a Community harmonisation directive and is therefore subject to national law concerning contracts.

Consumer credit is another matter. This is covered by Directive 87/102/EEC as amended by Directive
90/88/EEC (1), which lays down the principle that the annual percentage rate of charge for credit must include all
costs which the consumer has to pay, excluding those listed in Article 1a(2). Community law on consumer credit
was designed to ensure that consumers do not incur costs without their knowledge. The Commission has begun
to look into the possibility of achieving the same level of transparency for mortgage credit.

3. As the question concerns ‘unauthorised legal charges’, the Commission has no doubt that the complainant
will take the necessary administrative and legal steps open to him under national law.

(1) OJ L 61, 10.3.1990.

(98/C 76/247) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2617/97


by Glyn Ford (PSE) to the Commission
(18 July 1997)

Subject: Commission anti-dumping investigations into unbleached cotton (greycloth) imports

In light of the uncertainty created by repeated anti-dumping investigations into greycloth imports, which has
undoubtedly contributed to the loss of jobs in the Greater Manchester area, will the Commission indicate why it
is again investigating essentially the same complaints as have already been rejected by the Council of Ministers’
anti-dumping committee?

Answer given by Sir Leon Brittan on behalf of the Commission


(4 September 1997)

Although the Commission realises the burden of an investigation for the interested parties, it is bound by Council
Regulation (EC) No 384/96 on protection against dumped imports from countries not members of the European
Communities (1) to open an investigation when there is sufficient evidence to justify initiating a proceeding. Due
to the objective criteria set out in Council Regulation (EC) No 384/96 for the initiation of anti-dumping
11. 3. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 76/131

proceedings, the Commission is limited to assessing the evidence contained in the complaint. In the present case,
since facts reported in the complaint constituted evidence of injurious dumping, the Commission was obliged to
open a new proceeding.

(1) OJ L 56, 6.3.1996.

(98/C 76/248) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2619/97


by Pat Gallagher (UPE) to the Commission
(18 July 1997)
Subject: Competitiveness Advisory Group
Can the Commission indicate
1. The basis used for seeking nominations for the second Competitiveness Advisory Group (CAG),
2. Whether Ireland’s social partners or the Irish government were asked to submit a candidate, and
3. Why there is no Irish participant on the Group?

Answer given by Mr Santer on behalf of the Commission


(10 September 1997)
The competitiveness advisory group was established as an independent group of eminent personalities by the
Commission in February 1995 in line with a recommendation of the Essen European Council (December 1994).
At the end of its two-year mandate and due to its success, the Commission decided (February 1997) that its work
should be continued by appointing a new competitiveness advisory group. The decision was welcomed by the
Amsterdam European Council (June 1997).
Independence is an essential feature of the group. This means, in particular, that each member is invited to
participate on a personal basis and not as a representative of a government or any other organisation. As a matter
of record, membership of the group has included so far nationals of 13 Member States. Mr Peter Cassel, general
secretary of the Irish Trade union congress, was a member of the first group for the entire duration of its mandate.

(98/C 76/249) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2634/97


by Roberto Mezzaroma (UPE) to the Commission
(22 July 1997)
Subject: Single market
Can the Commission say what point has been reached in the inquiry it is carrying out into the alleged abuse of a
dominant position on the manufacture tobacco market by the multinational Philip Morris and the Italian financial
authorities?
Has the inquiry identified the mechanism which has so far undermined attempts to compete with the
multinational, which now seems to account for 55% of the Italian market? Is there total freedom and competition
in Italy, enabling any European manufacturer to sell products without restrictions being caused by exclusive
sales outlets?
Finally, can the Commission say how long it will take to complete the investigations?

Answer given by Mr Van Miert on behalf of the Commission


(4 September 1997)
The Commission has initiated proceedings, pursuant to Regulation No 17/62 implementing Articles 85 and 86 of
the EC Treaty (1), in order to ascertain whether certain practices pursued by the Amministrazione autonoma dei
monopoli di Stato (‘AAMS’) on the Italian cigarette market constitute abuse of a dominant position under
Article 86 of the EC Treaty. The proceedings relate in particular to the obstacles created by the AAMS to market
access by foreign cigarettes.