17. 3.

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Official Journal of the European Communities

C 82/49

improving social protection in the European Union’ (2). In this communication, emphasis is given to adapting social protection to the new balance of the sexes in terms of participation in working life, and to changes in family structures. In addition, in its 1997 report on social protection, the Commission will include the efforts of Member States to make progress towards the individualisation of rights without jeopardising the economic situation of women.
(1) (2) COM(87) 494 final. COM(97) 102 final.

(98/C 82/90)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-2245/97 by Kirsi Piha (PPE) to the Commission (2 July 1997)

Subject: Situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo According to press reports large refugee camps have been discovered in Congo which have been revealed to be mass extermination camps. It is estimated that there are some 40 000 refugees in Congo, and no-one can say exactly how many of them have already died or will die in these inhuman camps. What measures does the Commission propose to take to help ensure that the events which led to this disastrous situation are investigated and that those responsible are found and brought before an international court?

Answer given by Mr Pinheiro on behalf of the Commission (4 September 1997) The rebellion staged at the end of 1996 by the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo-Zaire (AFDL) caused Rwandan refugees who had been in Kivu since 1994 to scatter. An estimated 600 000 to 800 000 refugees returned to Rwanda; the remainder, whose numbers are difficult to estimate (almost 200 000 according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), fled the advancing AFDL forces. Some sought refuge in remote areas of the country or in states bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but a great many others were very probably persecuted and died of that or of exhaustion. In the light of revelations by a number of non-governmental organisations in particular, detailing grave human rights violations and massacres, the United Nations decided to send a fact-finding mission to the area. The Union has called on the government of President Kabila, by means of public declarations and overtures by the European troika, actively supported by the Commission, to comply fully with humanitarian law and to grant humanitarian organisations unrestricted access to all regions to assist the refugees. The Union has also asked the government to grant immediate authorisation to the UN mission to conduct a full investigation into the alleged massacres in Congolese territory.

(98/C 82/91)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-2262/97 by Amedeo Amadeo (NI) to the Commission (2 July 1997)

Subject: Annual report on the Cohesion Funds for 1995 Will the Commission say why there have been delays in the submission of the 1995 annual report on the Cohesion Funds (COM(96) 388 final) and why in some cases sufficient comparative data are not available on the projects?

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Official Journal of the European Communities Answer given by Mrs Wulf-Mathies on behalf of the Commission (11 September 1997)

17. 3. 98

The Cohesion fund annual report for 1995 was presented on 4 September 1996. Although the Cohesion fund Regulation (EC) No 1164/94 (1) does not set a deadline for the presentation of the report, the Commission intends to ensure that the reports become available with the smallest possible delay. However, adequate time must be allowed for the drafting of the reports due to the many specific requirements as to their contents laid down in the appendix to Annex 2 of the Regulation as well as the wish to be as complete as possible. The annual report contains all the information published about individual project decisions. Data which allow comparative study of projects are not always available.
(1) OJ L 130, 25.5.1994.

(98/C 82/92)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-2282/97 by Nel van Dijk (V) to the Commission (2 July 1997)

Subject: Distortion of competition in Western European ports Can the Commission confirm that it has received a letter from the Stichting Natuur en Milieu exposing the setting of land prices in the major ports of Western Europe? Is the Commission aware that the annual rental of certain plots of land is kept low in order to have a favourable impact on the position of the ports compared with competitor ports? Is the Commission aware that governments endeavour to promote port activities in other ways, too; e.g. the case of the chemical company Arco in Rotterdam which has been connected, at the government’s expense, to the pipeline system to Antwerp? Does the Commission agree that these aid measures result in distortion of competition and that they represent infringement of Article 92 of the Treaty?

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission (4 September 1997) The Commission has indeed recently received a letter from the ‘Stichting Natuur en Milieu’ (Foundation for nature and environment) concerning the level of land prices in certain Community ports. Low land prices do not necessarily mean that the port operators mentioned in the letter benefit from state aid. Instead the low price level can be due to other factors, such as the demand for the land in question, its utilisation or ownership, or a combination of these factors, and, therefore, each case has to be examined individually in order to establish whether there is aid involved. However, the Commission will request information from the governments concerned on the basis of Articles 92 and 93 of the EC Treaty. As regards state aid to ports in general, the Commission takes the view that public investment in infrastructure does not constitute aid within the meaning of Article 92 of the EC Treaty, as long as the infrastructure remains open to all users in the public interest on the basis of non-discriminatory access. Public financing of superstructure on the other hand, which is intended for commercial operations of certain companies, would normally fall under Article 92 of the EC Treaty. As far as the question of the pipeline network is concerned, the Commission is not aware of this matter and its relation to the transport objectives of the ports involved. It will, however, ask the Dutch authorities for information regarding the points raised by the Honourable Member.