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C 82/68 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 17. 3.


In the context of promoting renewable forms of energy, which is one of the Commission’s priorities, have
Directorates-General XVII and XII made provision for supporting the second stage of this project and other
similar ones?

Answer given by Mr Papoutsis on behalf of the Commission

(16 September 1997)

The Commission attaches a great deal of importance to the development of new technologies in the renewable
energies sector.

In 1995, as part of its promotional and specific flanking action on renewable energies, the Commission financed
a techno-economic study on the industrial use of thermal solar energy for the production of electricity in the
Mediterranean region.

In 1996 it financed the first phase of two demonstration projects (one in Spain, the other in Greece) on the
industrial use of a combination of thermal solar energy and conventional fuels to produce electricity.

With the first phase still under way and the initial results not yet available, the Commission, in agreement with
the Thermie Committee, has placed the financing of the subsequent phases of these projects on the reserve list.

However, in a gesture of encouragement to the industrial sector concerned, it has granted additional support of
ECU 1.2 million to the Spanish project.

Definitive funding of the solar projects will depend on the results of the preliminary work, and of a
techno-economic assessment of the projects requested by the members of the Thermie Committee and due to be
carried out by the end of 1997.

Lastly, a research proposal was recently submitted under JOULE (research and development). It will be
evaluated according to the usual procedures and the results presented to the JOULE Committee for opinion
before the Commission takes its decision, scheduled for October 1997.

(98/C 82/117) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2386/97

by Marjo Matikainen-Kallström (PPE) to the Commission
(10 July 1997)

Subject: Duty-free shopping at airports

Air passengers travelling within the EU are permitted to buy duty-free goods at airports’ duty-free shops.
However, the goods may be bought only at the airport of departure, not at that of arrival.

As a result of the present practice, travellers’ duty-free purchases fill aircraft’s hand-luggage storage areas, and
some articles have to be stored under travellers’ feet. This endangers the safety and comfort of travellers and
impedes movement inside the aircraft, for example in emergencies. Consumption of aviation fuel is also
increased because of the additional weight carried by aircraft.

Why are air travellers not also permitted to buy duty-free goods at the airport of destination? The quantity
purchased could still be monitored, for example by requiring passengers to display the stub of their landing card
in order to make a purchase.
17. 3. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 82/69

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(18 September 1997)

Generally speaking, goods which are intended for export are exempted from taxation whereas imported goods
are made subject to taxation. It is against this background that travellers are not allowed to make tax- and
duty-free purchases in the Member State of arrival. This applies to both travellers arriving from third countries
and travellers inside the Community.

Instead, travellers are allowed tax- and duty-free purchases in the Member State of departure. At import, the
traveller has to declare the goods intended for import and, in principle, to pay tax on all imported goods. The
traveller does not pay tax on goods which fall within certain limits in terms of quantity or value since these
benefit from a traveller's allowance.

Compliance with the obligation to declare and pay tax at import is ensured through controls carried out by the
customs authorities. Within the single market, controls at the internal borders of the Community are no longer
possible. The border control has been replaced by the vendor control system. The report presented by the
Commission (1) shows that vendor control systems are not operating satisfactorily in Member States.

The Commission appreciates fully the view expressed by the Honourable Member on the safety and
environmental aspects of duty-free goods kept on board aircraft. These are however problems which will be
resolved in the near future. It should be recalled that, following the decision of the Council to put an end to
duty-free sales to travellers inside the Community, such sales will expire on 30 June 1999.

(1) COM(96) 245 final.

(98/C 82/118) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2397/97

by Carles-Alfred Gasòliba i Böhm (ELDR) to the Commission
(10 July 1997)

Subject: Use of Cohesion Fund resources

One third of the territory of the Valencia Region is affected by serious erosion and desertification. The regional
authorities allocated 1 932 million from the Cohesion Fund to combat this process in 1996.

Can the Commission supply information about the use of these resources in 1996?

Answer given by Mrs Wulf-Mathies on behalf of the Commission

(12 September 1997)

The Commission is conscious of the problems of soil erosion and desertification in many parts of Spain,
including the region of Valencia. In order to help combat these problems, the Commission approved assistance
from the Cohesion fund for a number of projects in 1995 and early 1996 aimed at reafforestation, forestry
treatment, erosion control and the regeneration of areas damaged by fire in all the major river basins of Spain.
Some projects which were presented by the Spanish authorities in 1996 were approved for assistance in July
1997. The latest decisions granting assistance might include projects located within the territory of the
autonomous region of Valencia (basins of the Ebro, Jùcar/Levante and Segura).

Complementary information is sent direct to the Honourable Member and to the Secretariat general of