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C 310/14 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10.

98

Because of the authoritarian regime currently in power in Niger, there have been violations of the peace
agreements between the Republic of Niger and the Tuareg resistance movement in the area, which have led to a
renewed outbreak of the conflict between the Government of Niger and the Tuareg people.

The Tuareg people wish to maintain their cultural and socio-economic identity as a nomadic people, something
which has continually been disregarded by the countries in which they live and work. The intensification of the
conflict has provoked fears that a military offensive may be launched against the Tuareg people, further
worsening the situation.

What are the Commission’s views on the current situation of the Tuareg people and their conflict with the
Government of Niger?

Is the Commission providing cooperation or assistance of any kind to the Tuareg people, either through NGOs or
directly?

What type of humanitarian or political measures can the Commission take to restore the integrity and ensure the
survival of the Tuareg people?

Answer given by Mr Pinheiro on behalf of the Commission


(5 February 1998)

A peace agreement between the Niger Government and the Tuareg rebels was concluded on 24 April 1995,
putting an end to four years of conflict in northern Niger. Implementation of the peace agreement was completed
on 5 December 1997 with the signature of its final stage integrating the demobilised forces into the defence,
security and civil services. Three minority Tuareg movements − covering those Tuareg to whom the Honourable
Member is presumably referring − combined as the Union of Armed Resistance Forces saw themselves as
disadvantaged by the way in which the agreement was implemented, dissociated themselves from it and joined
the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Sahara, Toubou rebel movements in the East of the country.

With Algeria acting as mediator, these movements signed on 28 November 1997 an additional protocol to the
peace agreement of 24 April 1995 with the Niger Government. The protocol institutes a final cease-fire and
includes measures for restoring peace in the region.

The Commission supported efforts at mediation and those of the Niger authorities to implement the peace
process. The Commission also provided substantial emergency humanitarian aid to meet the immediate needs of
all the peoples of Niger who are refugees, displaced persons or simply locals trying to resettle and resume a
normal life. Aid so far has been ECU 2.9 million, in the departments of Agadez and Tahoua. It covered all basic
needs (water, food and health care) identified by the people themselves. Aid has been channelled locally through
experienced non-governmental organisations favouring an approach which involves the recipient communities.

At the start of this year over ECU 7 million of assistance will be granted by the Commission (ECU 3 million of it
in the form of food aid) to prevent food shortages. Since 1995 the Commission has concurrently been running an
integrated-development project in the pastoral area, which suffered particularly badly from the effects of
insurgency and armed conflict.

Together, these actions make the Community one of the main donors of aid to the people of northern Niger.

(98/C 310/16) WRITTEN QUESTION E-4219/97


by Stéphane Buffetaut (I-EDN) to the Commission
(21 January 1998)

Subject: Failure to transpose the Third Insurance Directives in respect of mutual societies governed by the
Mutual Societies Code in France

The French Government has still not yet transposed the Third Directives 92/49 (1) on non-life insurance and
92/96 (2) on life assurance, which entered into force on 1 July 1994, in respect of mutual societies governed by
the Mutual Societies Code. The Commission, as guardian of the Treaties, has opened proceedings against the
French Government for failure to comply with Treaty obligations. A reasoned opinion was addressed to the
French authorities on 5 March 1997.
9. 10. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/15

Since then, no transposition measures have yet been taken, while the effects of these distortions of competition
on the market are becoming ever more noticeable.

In fact the so-called ‘45’ mutual societies still enjoy preferential tax treatment: they are not subject to the 7% tax
on sickness and prudential policies; they are not required to observe the solvency rules to which other actors on
the market are subject (no distinction is drawn between insurance and welfare service activities, the solvency
margin does not apply).

This difference in treatment gives them a clear competitive advantage particularly in the sickness insurance
market, where their market share is growing faster than that of insurers and welfare institutions (+0.7% as against
+0.5% between 1990 and 1996).

What measures does the Commission propose to take to put an end to these distortions of competition which
persist on the French market and which are linked to its failure to transpose Community directives? Does it
intend to bring proceedings before the European Court of Justice?

(1) OJ L 228, 11.8.1992, p. 1.


(2) OJ L 360, 9.12.1992, p. 1.

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission


(30 March 1998)

The Commission would confirm that infringement proceedings have been initiated against France under
Article 169 of the EC Treaty. As part of those proceedings, it delivered a reasoned opinion stressing that
inclusion of the mutual associations in the scope of Directive 92/49/EEC of 18 June 1992 relating to direct
insurance other than life assurance and amending Directives 73/239/EEC and 88/357/EEC (third non-life
insurance Directive) and in the scope of Directive 92/96/EEC of 10 November 1992 relating to direct life
assurance and amending Directives 79/267/EEC and 90/619/EEC (third life assurance Directive) entailed
application in full of the relevant provisions to these associations as of 1 July 1994. Transposal involved the
provisions on establishing technical provisions, covering them with matching assets and establishing a solvency
margin being applied in respect of their entire business.

Furthermore, during other exchanges of letters the Commission pointed out to the French authorities that,
pending the full adaptation of national law to the third-generation Directives, they should revoke national
instruments that conflicted with the Directives so that the mutual associations would cease to enjoy, by virtue of
the Mutual Societies Code, more favourable treatment than other insurance undertakings.

To date, transposal of the third-generation insurance Directives remains incomplete.

Moreover, the Commission is currently investigating whether the exemption from the 7% tax on sickness
insurance policies constitutes granting state aid to the ‘45’ mutual associations.

(98/C 310/17) WRITTEN QUESTION E-4222/97


by Ursula Schleicher (PPE) to the Commission
(21 January 1998)

Subject: Imports of genetically modified organisms from the USA and Canada

1. What is the Commission’s assessment of the risk of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), in particular
maize, rape and soya, possibly mixed with conventional organisms, being exported to Europe, particularly from
the USA and Canada, without the requisite consent to place such organisms on the market in the countries of the
European Union pursuant to Part C of Directive 90/220/EEC (1)?

2. How many applications for consent are currently before the Commission?