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3. 4.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 102/133

Before signing an agreement on harbours for the Paraguai-Parana waterway, did the Commission carry out an
assessment of the impact of the waterway on the environment and the region’s sustainable development?

(1) OJ C 391, 23.12.1997, p. 122.

Answer given by Mr Marı́n on behalf of the Commission


(29 September 1997)

The Commission adopted the decision to finance the project on 12 April 1996. It was then that it initiated the call
for tenders procedure to select a company to implement the project; this procedure was carried out parallel to the
procedures for signing the financing agreement.

The terms of reference of the study (of which the Honourable Member was informed in the Commission's answer
to Written Question No E-1689/97) call for a methodology that takes account of all the environmental
information available as well as a description of the project and the main forms of impact it may have. All aspects
of the natural environment affected will be identified, as will any aspect that may generate an impact at any stage
of the project's implementation. Identification and assessment of potential impact will be based on a critical
analysis specifying, among other things, the nature and intensity of impact, the degree of correction needed, its
synergetic action and its duration so that it can be appropriately categorised.

As to the third question, the fact is that the waterway already exists, even if its rate of use is very low compared to
that of European rivers. The development of the ports will facilitate more modern, rational use of the waterway
that takes better account of the ecosystem. The Commission studies, analyses and impact assessments preceding
the new project are being carried out on that basis. The interim reports on the studies by the Inter-American
Development Bank also confirm this point of view.

(98/C 102/200) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2840/97


by Patricia McKenna (V) to the Commission
(1 September 1997)

Subject: EU publications on the draft Amsterdam Treaty

As part of the Prince information programme, the Commission has published a booklet, A new Treaty for
Europe: Citizen’s guide. The booklet has also been published on the Commission’s website.

Funding for the programme has been covered by budget line B3-306 in the 1997 EU budget. The commentaries
on this budget line state that information activities concerning the Treaty’s ratification should be ‘regarded not as
propaganda but as an effective channel of communication’ between EU institutions and citizens and that the
activities’ ‘must take account of specific national and regional characteristics.’

Despite the bar on propaganda, many would consider President Santer’s introduction to the booklet to be
enthusiastic advocacy for the Treaty, which has yet to be signed by EU leaders.

The Danish and Irish governments have both stated their commitment to hold a referendum on the Amsterdam
Treaty, once its final version has been agreed and signed by EU heads of states.

In Denmark, the government requires that all publicly funded information on referendum proposals present both
the arguments for and against the proposal, giving equal prominence to both. Ireland’s Supreme Court found in
1995 that publicly-funded referendum campaigns of a partisan nature breached the provisions on equality, fair
procedures in referendums and freedom of expression in Bunreacht na hÉireann, Ireland’s constitution.

How many copies of the aforementioned booklet have been published? What languages has it been published in?
Can the Commission give a breakdown in the distribution figures for each Member State? How many copies does
it intend to distribute in the future?
C 102/134 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 3. 4. 98

Has the Commission sought legal advice about whether or not publications such as the Citizen’s guide would
interfere with the referendum process in Ireland and Denmark and the other Member States which may call a
referendum on the proposed Treaty? In the case of Ireland has it sought advice about whether or not publications
on the Treaty prior to a referendum would breach the 1995 Supreme Court judgment in the McKenna case and if
so what advice did it receive?

Answer given by Mr Oreja on behalf of the Commission


(6 October 1997)

The Commission publishes information for the general public on all important Community issues, policies and
actions. The brochure ‘A new Treaty for Europe Citizen’s guide’, describing the draft treaty of Amsterdam, is but
one example of this information activity. The aim of the guide is to give citizens a simple factual overview of
what the treaty of Amsterdam says and what its objectives are.

The publication of this brochure forms an integral part of the special effort made to inform the citizens in Europe
as quickly as possible and in a clear and accessible way about the outcome of the intergovernmental conference
and the treaty of Amsterdam. This effort falls within the objectives of the PRINCE programme in its dimension
known as ‘Building Europe together’.

The print runs of such publications are decided in consultation with the Commission’s representations, the
Parliament’s offices, and other Community information services in the Member States. For the brochure in
question, 534 000 copies were printed, covering the eleven official languages. Overall distribution, by Member
State, was as follows:

Belgium 20 000
Denmark 7 500
Germany 30 000
Greece 15 000
Spain 50 000
France 100 000
Ireland 3 000
Italy 2 000
Luxembourg 1 000
Netherlands 50 000
Austria 10 000
Portugal 70 000
Finland 30 000
Sweden 10 000
United Kingdom 15 000

50 000 copies have been reserved for visitors to the Commission and the Parliament at Brussels, Luxembourg
and Strasbourg, and 20 000 more for Commission delegations in third countries. The rest have been sent to
citizens requesting them directly by telephone, mail or internet. As for future dissemination, the first print run is
nearly exhausted, and requests for a second edition, amounting in total to some 902 000 copies, have already
been received from the above-mentioned representations and offices.

As the Honourable Member herself points out, not only has the Amsterdam treaty not yet been signed, but the
Member States which may call a referendum have not yet indeed called a referendum or started the process
therefor involving campaigns. In these circumstances and without considering whether national provisions on
public funding limitations for referendum campaigns apply to the Community, nor whether the Commission’s
publication could be seen as part of a campaign, the examination of the Commission’s publication in relation to
such limitations was not at stake.

The 17 November 1995 ‘McKenna judgement’ of the Irish supreme court related to the activity of the Irish
government. Since no action of the Irish government is involved, and since the publication cannot reasonably be
construed as promoting a campaign, the issue of examination of the publication in the light of the McKenna
judgement did not arise.