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C 304/106 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 2. 10.

98

(98/C 304/159) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0441/98
by Anna Karamanou (PSE) to the Commission
(27 February 1998)

Subject: Bad weather in Greece and the tragic consequences on Lesbos and Samos

In the light of the devastation caused by the bad weather on the islands of Lesbos and Samos on 2 February 1998,
the loss of human life − two children and a woman − the total destruction of crops, the drowning of dozens of
animals, the incalculable material damage and economic consequences, what measures will the Commission take
to make Community resources available to assist the regions affected?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-0440/98 and E-0441/98
given by Mr Santer on behalf of the Commission
(27 March 1998)

The Commission deplores the damage caused by the recent bad weather to the islands of Samos and Lesvos in
Greece, but it must emphasise that the role of the Structural Funds is not to provide assistance in the event of a
natural disaster. The Funds’ objectives and scope are defined in the Council regulations adopted in December
1988 and revised in July 1993 and concern the financing of investment and infrastructure in underdeveloped
regions, regions in industrial decline and rural regions. Only indirect support can therefore be given, where the
regional authorities decided that the areas damaged by the bad weather should enjoy priority access to aid to
infrastructure and investment for economic development.

With regard to emergency aid to disaster victims, the Commission recalls that this form of symbolic intervention
is no longer possible due to the deletion of the item (B4-3400) from the current year’s budget.

As far as the European Agriculture Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) Guidance Section is concerned
more particularly, Regulation (EEC) No 4256/88 (1) provides for restoring and prevention measures in case of
natural disasters. However, due to the advanced stage of implementation of the relevant operational programmes,
EAGGF amounts are almost totally allocated to concrete projects and actions, so there is practically no margin of
available unallocated credits. Nevertheless, given the emergency of the situation created by the natural disasters
and to the extent that the responsible authorities address a request to the Commission redirecting the priorities
within the programmes, the Commission should not be opposed to examine positively this request, provided that
the eligibility rules and other implementation provisions of the structural funds are respected. However, it should
be clear that a possible EAGGF intervention, if any, would be quite exceptional and limited.

(1) OJ L 374, 31.12.1988.

(98/C 304/160) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0443/98
by Eryl McNally (PSE) to the Commission
(27 February 1998)

Subject: EU-Israel Association Agreement

I should like to draw the Commission’s attention to the EU-Israel Association Agreement of November 1995.
Is the Commission aware of concerns expressed that Israel is not, in fact, respecting the terms and conditions of
the Agreement? In particular, is the Commission aware of:
− Israel’s apparent breach of country-of-origin rules involving the re-exportation of Brazilian orange juice into
the EU,
− the mislabelling of orange juice from illegal settlements in Gaza,
− an investigation by HM Customs & Excise into the true origin of a wide range of Israeli exports to the UK,
such as textile waste and telecommunications equipment?
2. 10. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 304/107

Given that such conduct has adverse economic consequences and harms the Middle East peace process, what
does the Commission propose to do to ensure that all parties comply with the EU-Israel Association Agreement?

Answer given by Mr Marin on behalf of the Commission
(2 April 1998)

In 1994 the Commission requested the administrative co-operation of the Israeli customs, provided by the 1975
co-operation agreement between the Community and Israel, in order to clarify cases of alleged exports of
non-originating Israeli orange juice into the Community at preferential rates. In accordance with the practice in
these cases, the Commission asked the Israeli authorities to verify the authenticity of EUR-1 export certificates
issued by Israel for exports of orange juice in the period under investigation.

The Israeli customs however, raising a number of legal, administrative and technical obstacles, declared
themselves unable to proceed to the requested verification. The issue was raised at the December 1995 meeting
of the Community-Israel customs co-operation committee that had been called in order to find a solution.
However, no agreement was reached on that occasion. The lack of co-operation by the Israeli customs and the
arguments raised against the repeated Commission’s requests to verify EUR-1 export certificates led the
Commission to question the overall ability of the Israeli authorities to implement the provisions of the Protocol
on rules of origin.

Pending settlement of this issue, the Commission, with a view to protecting the financial interests of Community
importers of Israeli goods, published a notice (1) warning importers of its reservations concerning the
effectiveness of the implementation by Israel of the preferential trade arrangements.

This matter was further discussed at the twelfth meeting of the Community-Israel co-operation committee, called
at the initiative of the Commission, which took place on 28 November 1997. On that occasion, Israel undertook
to put into effect a number of operational steps in order to meet the long-standing requests of the Community.

The Commission is satisfied with the more cooperative attitude shown by the Israeli authorities in fulfilling the
commitments undertaken on that occasion. A first batch of results of verification of EUR-1 certificates issued in
1995 has already been transmitted to the Commission within the agreed deadline, together with the relevant
Israeli domestic legislation on the matter. A further batch concerning the verification of EUR-1 certificates
issued in 1996 and 1997 should be transmitted shortly.

The Commission is prepared to re-examine its position and to withdraw the notice to the Community importers
when the commitments made by Israel at the meeting of the cooperation committee in November 1997 are
fulfilled.

(1) OJ C 338, 8.11.1997.

(98/C 304/161) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0446/98
by Concepció Ferrer (PPE) to the Commission
(27 February 1998)

Subject: Interreg II programme

The aim of the Interreg II programme on cross-border cooperation is to implement effective mechanisms to
facilitate cooperation between frontier regions. With regard to each of the four measures concerning Spain under
the Interreg II programme, will the Commission say what projects have been approved for the period 1994-1999,
what funds have been granted, where the projects are located and what percentage of the total cost of each of the
projects has been funded?