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98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 102/111

(98/C 102/160) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2759/97

by Gerhard Schmid (PSE) to the Commission
(1 September 1997)

Subject: Family rail passes for European railways

In France and Germany you can obtain what is known as a family rail pass, and it is recognized by both countries.

1. Would it not be desirable to introduce a family rail pass throughout the European Union, valid in all
Member States, to make rail travel more attractive and support the family?

2. Will the Commission be taking an initiative in this direction? If not, why not? If so, how?

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(7 October 1997)

Whilst recognising the clear advantages for families and for patronage of rail of family rail passes, the
Commission considers that tariff schemes and reductions are matters for the railway undertakings themselves, in
line with their management independence.

In addition, given the principle of subsidiarity, it is for Member States to decide how far they would like to
support tariff reductions on public transport.

Consequently, the Commission has no plans to bring forward a specific initiative regarding a Community-wide
family pass.

(98/C 102/161) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2761/97

by Willi Görlach (PSE) and Barbara Schmidbauer (PSE) to the Commission
(1 September 1997)

Subject: Complaints against airports and airlines with regard to ground handling arrangements

1. In 1994 the Commission initiated several infringement proceedings against airports and airlines on the
grounds that they had set up an unjustified monopoly in the field of ground handling. What is the state of progress
with these proceedings, and particularly the proceedings against Flughafen Frankfurt/Main AG?

2. How is the Commission ensuring that the purposes of the Council of Transport Ministers, as expressed in
the ground handling directive adopted on 24 October 1996 on the basis of Article 84 of the EC Treaty to reconcile
the transport and competitive aspects, are also heeded without restriction in the Commission's proceedings? Will
the Commission be respecting the transitional provisions in the ground handling directive and enforcing them, in
particular the rule in Article 9 whereby an airport's proven capacity and space constraints will permit the airport
to be exempted from premature market exposure until 1 January 2003 at the latest?

Answer given by Mr Van Miert on behalf of the Commission

(26 September 1997)

1. The Commission terminated a number of the proceedings after the market was opened up to a second
supplier of groundhandling services. This was the case, for example, with the Spanish airports and Dublin
airport. The groundhandling market will also be opened up to a second supplier at Athens airport on
1 January 1998, one year ahead of the date laid down in Council Directive 96/67/EC of 15 October 1996 on
access to the groundhandling market at Community airports (1). As far as Frankfurt airport is concerned, the
matter is still under examination.
C 102/112 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 3. 4. 98

2. Implementation of Directive 96/67/EC is without prejudice to the application of the competition rules laid
down in the EC Treaty. As part of the proceedings, the Commission has to establish whether Frankfurt airport
committed an abuse of a dominant position by establishing for itself, without any objective need, a monopoly in
the supply of groundhandling services. The arguments regarding capacity and available space put forward by the
parties are being examined in this respect.

(1) OJ L 272, 25.10.1996.

(98/C 102/162) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2762/97

by Lucio Manisco (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(1 September 1997)

Subject: Restoration of Verrocchio’s ‘Baptism of Christ’

Professor Alfio della Serra of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence has begun restoring the ‘Baptism of Christ’, a
Renaissance masterpiece with figures and landscape painted by Leonardo da Vinci and an angel attributed to
Botticelli, which is of incalculable value not only to the European Union but to the whole of mankind.

Objections of various kinds have been raised concerning the way in which the restoration work is being carried
out and how urgent it is by Professor Carlo Pedretti and Jacques Franck, eminent experts on Leonardo’s
paintings, and by James Beck of Colombia University, Chairman of Art Watch International, who, dissatisfied by
the information on the subject supplied by the Curator of the Uffizi, has lodged an appeal to the courts calling for
the restoration work to be suspended.

1. What urgent steps does the Commission intend to take to allay the fears felt by the international art world
concerning the preservation of Verrocchio’s ‘Baptism of Christ’, not least because of the fierce polemic on the

2. What steps will the Commission take to ensure greater transparency concerning the methods used and the
reasons for the restoration work decided by the Curator of the Uffizi Gallery, Anna Maria Petrioli Tofani?

Answer given by Mr Oreja on behalf of the Commission

(20 October 1997)

Firstly, the Commission would like to state that its role in safeguarding the cultural heritage, based on Article 128
of the EC Treaty, is confined to supporting and supplementing action by the Member States. In accordance with
the principle of subsidiarity, it is not empowered to intervene in matters falling exclusively within the jurisdiction
of the Member States, such as the restoration of a work belonging to the Italian national heritage.

However, in this specific case, the Commission checked that the methods used to restore Verrocchio's painting
were those commonly and correctly applied by the Uffizi Gallery in its professional work.

The scientific rigour of the current restoration is not open to doubt, as was confirmed, moreover, by the
Soprintendente of Florence himself. He has already defended the restoration work in an answer to a
parliamentary question similar to the one put by the Honourable Member in the Italian Parliament.