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2. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 304/117

(98/C 304/175) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0489/98
by Karl Habsburg-Lothringen (PPE) to the Commission
(17 February 1998)

Subject: Report on the approximation of the rates of excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages

With a view to the approximation of excise duty rates, a system of minimum rates of excise duty was introduced
with Directive 92/84/EEC (1). Pursuant to Article 8 of that Directive, the Council is to examine the rates of duty
every two years and, acting unanimously after consulting the European Parliament, adopt the necessary
measures.

That examination is to be carried out on the basis of a report and, where appropriate, a proposal from the
Commission. In addition to competition between the different categories of alcoholic drinks, the report is to take
into account the proper functioning of the internal market, the real value of the rates of duty and the wider
objectives of the Treaty.

An initial Commission report to the Council and the European Parliament dated 13 September 1995 proposed in
essence that the approximation of the minimum rates of duty for alcoholic products be postponed until further
investigations and consultations had been concluded.

No second report has been published. Pursuant to the Directive referred to above, it is now more than one year
overdue.

When will the Commission submit to the European Parliament a report on the approximation of the rates of
excise duty on alcohol and alcoholic beverages?

How does the Commission account for the fact that that report is already more than one year overdue?

(1) OJ L 316, 31.10.1992, p. 29.

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

The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer to written question E-37/98 by Mr Miller (1).

(1) OJ C 196, 22.6.1998, p. 110.

(98/C 304/176) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0490/98
by Klaus Lukas (NI) to the Council
(27 February 1998)

Subject: Duty-free sales

I note that the Council has been able to answer Question No E-2666/97 (1) no more than very superficially and
therefore put these questions once again.

The Council has decided that duty-free sales should cease in 1999. The stated reason is that duty-free sales are not
logically compatible with the internal market.

What is the purpose of this decision?

Could this purpose be achieved by less drastic means?

If so, what measures might be considered sufficient? If not, why not?

How do duty-free sales hamper the proper functioning of the internal market?

What was the basis for the Council’s decision?

How many jobs in the EU are affected by this Council decision?

What was the Council’s assessment of the decision’s impact on employment?
C 304/118 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 2. 10. 98

What is the Council’s present assessment of the decision’s impact on employment?

How can the Council justify the destruction of thousands of jobs on purely ideological grounds?

Will the Council create replacement jobs for the people who have been deprived of them by this ideologically
motivated decision?

If so, when and where will these jobs be created?

How will the creation of these jobs be funded?

If not, how can such decisions be reconciled with the numerous statements by all manner of Councils that they
will do everything in their power to create jobs?

(1) OJ C 102, 3.4.1998, p. 85.

Answer
(18 May 1998)

The Council has nothing to add to the reply given to Written Question No E-2666/97 by the Honourable Member.

(98/C 304/177) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0491/98
by Anna Karamanou (PSE) to the Commission
(2 March 1998)

Subject: Floods in northern Greece

The bad weather of 5 February 1998 was especially harsh in the islands of the northern Aegean, eastern
Macedonia and Thrace, drowning one person on Thasos and causing widespread damage to the road and rail
network, farms, and hundreds of homes, shops and offices which were flooded by the torrential and
unprecedented rainfall This devastation comes on top of the events of 2 February 1998 when three people lost
their lives on Lesbos.

Will the Commission examine the possibility of providing Community resources to make good the damage
caused by this natural disaster?.

(98/C 304/178) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0740/98
by Mihail Papayannakis (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(18 March 1998)

Subject: Flooding on the island of Lesbos

In view of the widespread destruction caused by the recent heavy rainfall on Lesbos (January 1998), will the
Commission say how many − and which − drainage and flood prevention schemes it has funded on the island
since Greece’s accession to the European Union, how much funding has been provided, how many of these
schemes have been completed so far and how much work remains to be done on those that are still uncompleted?

Will the Commission also say whether it intends to provide financial assistance if the relevant Greek authorities
submit applications for structural aid so as to meet the cost of urgently-needed infrastructure investments,
principally flood prevention schemes, but also sewage networks in various villages on Lesbos?