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9. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/17

(98/C 310/18) WRITTEN QUESTION E-4223/97

by Cristiana Muscardini (NI) to the Commission
(21 January 1998)

Subject: Vancimuglio

The right to strike, when not abused, is a valuable instrument for workers and is recognized in the basic
legislation of the Member States and labour law. Farmers in Italy are currently holding demonstrations to
safeguard their legitimate interests, but the government’s reaction to the protests has been disproportionate,
ordering the forces of law and order to take decisive action to put a stop to them.

Since the police forces are also workers and their duty is to enforce the law, it should be stressed that the freedom
to protest cannot be restricted by the threat of arrest and summary trial. Can the Commission therefore intervene
in the case of the striking Italian farmers by introducing measures to safeguard and protect human and civic

Answer given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission

(11 March 1998)

At present, there is no Community legislation on the right to strike. In fact, Article 2 (6) of the Agreement on
social policy which is to be incorporated into the EC Treaty by the Treaty of Amsterdam clearly states that the
provisions of the Article shall not apply to the right to strike or the right to impose lock-outs. Thus the
Commission has no competence to intervene in a situation such as that described by the Honourable Member.

The Community Charter on Fundamental Social rights clearly contains the right to resort to collective action,
including the right to strike, subject to the obligations arising under national regulations and collective
agreements. However, in one previous case of demonstrations where acts of violence and vandalism were used,
the Court of justice (in case C-265/95) held that a Member State had failed to adopt all necessary and
proportionate measures in order to prevent the free movement of goods from being obstructed by private

(98/C 310/19) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0009/98

by Patricia McKenna (V) to the Commission
(29 January 1998)

Subject: Nuclear reprocessing and radioactive waste

Britain’s Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee (RWMAC) recently published its 17th annual

Among other things, the report recommends that spent nuclear fuel due to be reprocessed should be classified as
radioactive waste if the plutonium and uranium recovered from reprocessing will not be reused.

Britain’s plutonium inventory is continuously getting bigger as all British spent fuel is reprocessed at Sellafield.
None of the plutonium is reused in Britain.

Numerous studies have been done on the threat of plutonium being siphoned off to subversive groups, who could
manufacture crude nuclear weapons with rudimentary technology.

Would the Commission agree that the best way to avoid further rises in Britain’s plutonium inventory is to
encourage Britain to end is reprocessing activities? Can the Commission give a guarantee that it will do
everything possible to ensure that no EU grants or loans are given to help nuclear reprocessing either in the EU or
in third countries?
C 310/18 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10. 98

Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission

(31 March 1998)

It is generally agreed that spent nuclear fuel should be regarded as radioactive waste if no further use is foreseen
for it. Usually, when it is sent for reprocessing it is with the objective of recovering the uranium and plutonium
for further use (recycling) and minimizing the volume of what must be treated as high-level waste. If a decision is
taken before sending the spent fuel to reprocessing that none of the products will be used, then regarding the fuel
as waste and its reprocessing as a step in the waste management process would be in line with the new joint
convention on the safety of spent fuel management and the safety of radioactive waste management.

The inventory of separated plutonium in the United Kingdom is growing, though it should be noted that not all
this plutonium belongs to the United Kingdom but to the companies having their fuel reprocessed there.
Furthermore, not all of the spent fuel from reactors in the United Kingdom is scheduled for reprocessing.
Plutonium at Sellafield, irrespective of ownership, is stored safely and securely. In addition, a new mixed oxide
(Mox) fuel fabrication facility has been built which will use the plutonium from the reprocessing operations and
return it to customers in the form of new fuel.

In some Member States the policy is to treat all spent nuclear fuel as waste and to dispose of it directly without
reprocessing. However, in other Member States the policy is to reprocess the spent fuel with a view to recycling
the recovered plutonium and uranium. Continuing use of reprocessing facilities, such as those at Sellafield
(United Kingdom) and La Hague (France), will be needed by those choosing to follow the latter management

The reprocessing option results in an initial increase in inventories of separated plutonium until the demand for
Mox fuel grows to the level that more plutonium is being used in its fabrication than results from the reprocessing
operations or until a decision is taken to dispose of plutonium stocks. Concerning the latter, the route for
plutonium disposal presently favoured by many of those holding stocks which have resulted from weapons
programmes, is to fabricate it into Mox fuel for burning in reactors followed by eventual disposal of the resulting
spent fuel, through the possibility of further recycling has not been excluded.

The Commission would like to recall that it has taken the necessary measures, in the framework of its obligations
under Chapter VII of the Euratom Treaty, to ensure that plutonium as well as Mox fuel, produced by and stored at
the Sellafield plants, are not diverted to unintended use. Concerning Community grants and loans, their
attribution is subject to the specific rules associated with each of them and to their ability to contribute to the
achievement of Community objectives, including those established in the Euratom Treaty.

(98/C 310/20) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0033/98

by Jesús Cabezón Alonso (PSE) and Pedro Aparicio Sánchez (PSE) to the Commission

(29 January 1998)

Subject: Biological pauses in Moroccan fishing-grounds

The greater part of the trawler fleet based in the fishing ports of Andalusia will come to a halt over the next few
months, as a result of the biological pause imposed by the Moroccan government in its fishing-grounds.

What is the EU doing to relieve the social and economic consequences of this pause imposed by Morocco?

What mechanisms does the Commission possess to ensure that the biological pause applying to Moroccan
fishing-grounds is strictly observed not only by EU Member States’ fleets but also by the fleets of Morocco and
other third countries?