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2. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 304/133

Answer
(8 June 1998)

Under the Treaty, the Commission is competent to represent the Community in the WTO and therefore before the
Panel and the Appeals Panel.

The Honourable Member’s questions should consequently be put to the Commission.

(98/C 304/200) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0575/98
by Gérard Caudron (PSE) to the Council
(3 March 1998)

Subject: Motorway driving in thick fog

Another tragedy has occurred on a motorway in foggy weather.

In less than two years the Lille-Ghent motorway has been the scene of two major pile-ups, which killed around
fifty people and injured even more. The accidents happened in extreme weather conditions.

These are clearly not isolated incidents in the European Union − the statistics speak for themselves.

It is quite clear that appeals to drive carefully in order to avoid the worst are ignored.

Can the Council give its views on the possibility of closing motorways temporarily when there is thick fog?

Can the Council say whether it intends to take steps which may put an end to these lethal accidents on motorways
in particularly thick fog?

Answer
(28 May 1998)

Improving transport safety is a priority in common transport policy, as laid down in Article 75(c) of the Treaty,
and is central to the Council’s concerns.

With regard to road safety in particular, the Council adopted conclusions at its meeting on 17 and 18 June 1997
on the Commission communication ‘Road safety in the European Union – the programme for the years
1997-2001.’

In its conclusions, the Council lays down a number of guidelines aimed at facilitating the promotion of road
safety at both national and Community levels.

However, it should be noted that the power to make proposals is conferred by the Treaty on the Commission and
that the specific measures to which the Honourable Member refers fall within the sphere of competence of the
Member States.

(98/C 304/201) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0576/98
by Gérard Caudron (PSE) to the Council
(3 March 1998)

Subject: Double taxation for border workers

The Commission and the European Parliament have expressed their views on several occasions concerning the
double taxation affecting certain border workers.

The legislative work being carried out by our colleague Mrs Van Lancker is taking shape and should allow
significant progress to be made in remedying this anomaly in this age of the single market and the introduction of
the Euro.
C 304/134 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 2. 10. 98

In the meantime, a number of border workers have to cope with retroactive tax demands which threaten their
solvency.

Can the Council say whether it intends to take urgent steps to tackle such situations, in particular by requesting
these requests for payment of arrears be suspended pending the completion of the legislative process on this
issue?

Can the Council say whether it intends to force the Member States to apply the new legislation once it has been
approved by the European Parliament?

Answer
(18 May 1998)

Measures such as those requested by the Honourable Member can only be taken by the Council on the basis of a
Commission proposal.

No such proposal has been received by the Council.

(98/C 304/202) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0590/98
by Sirkka-Liisa Anttila (ELDR) to the Commission
(23 February 1998)

Subject: Fundamental differences in food hygiene testing between the USA’s ‘decontamination’ approach and
the EU’s ‘from the field to the table’ approach

Negotiations are in progress between the United States and the European Union concerning the preconditions for
signing a veterinary and animal health agreement. The methods used to protect consumers’ health are based on
fundamentally different principles in the USA and the EU. In the USA, only the final product is tested, whereas in
the EU consumers are protected effectively by monitoring the whole production chain ‘from the field to the
table’. Large quantities of antibiotics and hormones are used in high-productivity industrial-style livestock
farming in the USA to increase efficiency. Meanwhile in the EU extensive agricultural production is being
invested in, which accords with environmental, animal welfare and sustainable development objectives, together
with checks throughout the food production chain, all of which of course entails extra costs.

According to the information at my disposal, the Commission considers it important to conclude the Veterinary
Agreement between the USA and the EU. Why? Ought not the EU to safeguard its own consumers’ health by
ensuring that imported foodstuffs sold within the EU meet the same high quality, hygiene and veterinary
standards which we require of food produced within the EU? Commissioner Fischler has spoken persuasively of
the high quality of food and of safeguarding consumers’ health. Is it not now the Commission’s duty to defend
the production standards for which the EU has opted and our own comprehensive monitoring system? This will
have implications for whether the EU’s principles of consumer and environmental protection can be asserted in
the next round of WTO negotiations in 1999. If the Commission now approves the Veterinary Agreement, we
shall forfeit the opportunity to defend the EU’s systems for monitoring the production of quality foodstuffs ‘from
the field to the table’.

Will the Commission insist that the EU’s trade partners, such as the USA, adopt food hygiene and quality
monitoring systems as comprehensive as the EU’s?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission
(30 March 1998)

Since the Commission started making inspections of meat-exporting establishments in the United States in the
mid 1980s, trade difficulties have arisen because of the differences in approach to health measures adopted by the
Community and the United States. In order to overcome these trade problems, an agreement (the ‘red meat
agreement’) was negotiated in the early 1990s and adopted by the Council in October 1992 by Council Decision
93/158/EEC (1). This recognized that the regulatory systems of both parties basically provide equivalent