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2. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 304/13

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission
(26 February 1998)

Council Regulation (EC) No 844/94 amending Regulation (EEC) No 1101/89 on structural improvements in
inland waterway transport, stipulates that the ‘old for new rule’ shall remain in force until 28 April 1999. The
Commission, in its report of November 1997 (1) which was sent to the Council and the Parliament, expressed a
presumption in favour of retaining a mechanism for regulating the capacity of the fleet after 28 April 1999. The
Commission asked the group of experts on the re-structuring of the inland navigation sector, (which was
established by Commission Regulation (EEC) No 1102/89 laying down certain measures for implementing
Council Regulation (EEC) No 1101/89 on structural improvement in inland waterway transport), to reflect
further on this matter on the basis of contributions from the industry and other interested parties. The
Commission will now review this material and adopt the necessary proposals in due course.

(1) COM(97) 555 final.

(98/C 304/19) WRITTEN QUESTION E-4170/97
by Eryl McNally (PSE) to the Commission
(21 January 1998)

Subject: Specific SME representation in the European-level Social Dialogue

Under the Maastricht Treaty certain social legislation, such as regulations in the workplace, can be set by a
dialogue between European-level partners.

Will small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have specific representation in the European-level Social
Dialogue? What can the Commission do to support the claim for specific SME representation in the Social

Answer given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission
(10 March 1998)

Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are represented by a number of organisations at European level.
They are represented in the social dialogue by various organisations including, for example, the European Union
of crafts and small and medium-sized enterprises (UEAPME), the Union of industrial and employers
confederations of Europe (UNICE) and Eurocommerce. They are members of certain advisory committees and
the standing committee of employment, and they are formally consulted on legislative proposals in accordance
with Article 3 of the agreement on social policy annexed to the Treaty on European Union.

SMEs are also represented in the sectorial joint committees and informal working groups, for example, in the
commerce, agricultural and fishing sectors by employers organisations, often representing exclusively SMEs.

Negotiation of agreements is another aspect of the social dialogue at European level. Participation in these
negotiations is based on principles of autonomy and mutual recognition of the negotiating parties. Currently, the
two formal agreements adopted under the social Protocol were negotiated by UNICE, CEEP and ETUC. The
Commission has nevertheless expressed repeatedly its wish to see the social partners showing a spirit of dialogue
and of openness in order to seek among themselves the methods allowing the broadest possible acceptation of the
outcome of the agreements and consultation. The Commission will continue to press Social partners to do this.
The Commission is also engaged in carrying out a study of the representativity of Socila partners, whose results
will become available in late 1998.

The Commission is currently preparing a communication which follows an extensive hearing of all involved
parties through the consultative 1996 Commission communication on development of the social dialogue at
Community level (1). The new communication will, while respecting the autonomy of the social partners, set
forth the means the Commission intends to use to adapt and promote social dialogue in the future. The aim is to
provide the tools for an even more constructive dialogue at European level where all interests, including those of
SMEs, can be taken into account in a way that refelcts their importance with regard to employment and job

(1) COM(96) 448.