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C 102/66 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 3. 4.

98

Answer given by Mr Van Miert on behalf of the Commission


(1 October 1997)

According to the third paragraph of Article 175 of the EC Treaty, any natural or legal person may complain to the
Court of Justice that an institution of the Community − such as the Commission − has failed to address to that
person any act other than a recommendation or an opinion. The complainant can bring an action in respect of the
Commission's failure to reach a decision on the complaint. However, according to the second paragraph of
Article 175, the action is admissible only if the institution concerned has first been called upon to act and has not
defined its position within two months of being so called upon. The action may then be brought before the Court
of Justice within a further period of two months. The Court of Justice itself is not required to pass judgment
within a given period. However, under Article 186 of the EC Treaty, it may prescribe any necessary interim
measures in any cases before it.

Another possibility for which the EC Treaty makes provision is that set out in Article 177. Under this Article, a
court or tribunal in one of the Member States to which a question on the interpretation of the Treaty is submitted
and which considers that a decision on the question is necessary to enable it to give judgment can refer the matter
to the Court of Justice for a ruling. However, it is the national court or tribunal which decides whether the
question is to be submitted to the Court of Justice; parties in the proceedings at national level cannot oblige it to
refer the matter to the Court. It is not possible to say, on the basis of the facts supplied in the Honourable
Member's question, whether this possibility could be relevant to the present proceedings.

(98/C 102/97) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2596/97


by David Hallam (PSE) to the Council
(1 September 1997)

Subject: Economic and Monetary Union

1. What are the predicted costs to national mints


(a) of licensing technology for Nordic Gold?
(b) of converting production to a non-traditional material?
(c) of reduced or lost exports to non-EU countries?

2. Why, among the many nickel-free or low-nickel alloys available, was only a trade-marked product −
Nordic Gold − selected?

(98/C 102/98) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2650/97


by Roberto Mezzaroma (UPE) to the Council
(1 September 1997)

Subject: Single currency coins

On 9 June 1997 ECOFIN, the Council of Finance Ministers, of Finance approved the draft regulation on the
denominations and technical specifications of euro coins; this proposal for a regulation, which was also endorsed
by the recent Amsterdam Summit, would completely preclude the use of stainless steel.

Stainless steel offers the following advantages:


1. economic: a saving of over ECU 300 million would be made, taking into account only the three
intermediate-denomination coins (0.1, 0.2 and 0.5 euro),
2. technical: the material lends itself to coin production, maintains appearance and shape, and is suitable for
vending machines,
3. health: the stainless steels used in the coins produced by the Mints of the principal Member States present no
risk to public health;
3. 4. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 102/67

4. recyclability: the proportion of scrap steel used in the manufacture of stainless steel is about 80%, and the
product is 100% recyclable;
5. ecological: stainless steel products do not present any risk to the environment;
6. supply: there would be no problems with regard to the production of the euro coins (c. 300 000 tonnes).

What are the initiatives and reasons which have narrowed down the choice so far to coins containing copper or
copper alloys and completely ruled out the use of stainless steel, which is a typically European product (with
Europe accounting for 44% of world output)?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-2596/97 and E-2650/97
(10 November 1997)

On 5 June 1997 the Commission submitted to the Council a formal proposal for a Council Regulation on
denominations and technical specifications of euro coins. That proposal essentially incorporates the technical
elements suggested by the Mint Directors of the Member States whom the Council had previously briefed to
research and draw up a complete proposal for a single European coin system. As for the materials to be used to
produce euro coins, the Mint Directors’ study was based on the most recent technical expertise, from both the
economic and public-health points of view.

During its meeting on 7 July 1997 the Council gave its political agreement on the Commission proposal, subject
to possible subsequent amendment to be adopted by the Council after examining any amendments suggested by
the European Parliament at first and/or second reading. It should in fact be emphasized first that this proposal,
which is based on Article 105a of the EC Treaty, is subject to the cooperation procedure with the European
Parliament and secondly that the Regulation in question cannot be formally adopted by the Council until the
Member States adopting the euro as their single currency are known (Articles 105a and 109k of the Treaty).

The Council has meanwhile consulted the European Parliament on the proposal at first reading and is currently
awaiting its Opinion.

(98/C 102/99) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2597/97


by David Hallam (PSE) to the Commission
(1 September 1997)

Subject: Nickel content of euro coinage

Referring to Paragraph 4 − Choice of metal − of the introduction to the proposal for a Council Regulation
COM(97) 0247

1. What evidence is there to link nickel in coinage


(a) to the onset of hand eczema or
(b) to the persistence of hand eczema?

2. If there is any evidence, how many Europeans


(a) have developed hand eczema as a result of nickel in coinage or
(b) have a persistent hand eczema condition because of nickel in coinage?

If there is a numerical answer to 2, what is the basis of that number: is it predicted from a model? If so, is there
any documentation available?

Answer given by Mr de Silguy on behalf of the Commission


(6 October 1997)

It is scientifically proven that nickel in objects coming into direct and prolonged contact with the skin may cause
primary sensitisation of humans to nickel or elicit dermatitis in individuals already nickel-sensitised.