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9. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/19

Answer given by Mrs Bonino on behalf of the Commission

(7 April 1998)

The period of biological rest for Community shrimp trawlers (January and February) is provided for in the
fisheries agreement between the Community and Morocco which is currently in effect. It was already included in
previous agreements.

The agreement only covers the conditions valid for the Community fleet (including the periods of biological rest)
and so contains no obligations on the Moroccan fleet or the fleets of third countries.

Since the biological rest period is expressly provided for in the agreement, it is not possible to introduce a
financial aid scheme under the Community’s structural policy; the socio-economic consequences have to be
allowed for in the commercial planning of the businesses concerned.

In accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No 3699/93 of 21 December 1993 laying down the criteria and
arrangements regarding Community structural assistance in the fisheries and aquaculture sector and the
processing and marketing of its products (1), financial aid from the Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance
(FIFG) can only be granted to schemes intended to compensate partially for income losses due to temporary
suspensions of fishing that are caused by unforeseen and non-repeating events, in particular those of biological

(1) OJ L 346, 31.12.1993.

(98/C 310/21) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0050/98

by Raimo Ilaskivi (PPE) to the Commission
(29 January 1998)

Subject: Further follow-up question on passenger seating space on aircraft; questioner left to whistle for a
straight answer

Mr Kinnock, Member of the Commission, has replied to my two questions, E-1118/97 (1) and E-3131/97 (2), on
the above subject.

With reference, inter alia, to American research, I had asked what the Commission intended to do to eliminate
health risks arising from cramped conditions. The existence of these conditions on charter flights, in particular, is
common knowledge, but they also prevail on the scheduled flights of certain airlines. In his reply, Mr Kinnock
refers only to the comfort and safety of passengers. Evidently he has not studied the relevant research
concerning, inter alia, the risk of embolism and the like which exists for tall and fat passengers in cramped

I asked what kind of information had emerged from the contacts with airlines promised in Mr Kinnock’s first
reply. Mr Kinnock’s second reply revealed that no such contacts had been established, but that it was up to air
users to select their airlines for themselves.

The underlying message is clear: ‘if you want a straight answer, you can whistle for it’. The replies given do not
answer the questions tabled, and this is indicative of the Commission’s unanimous attitude to parliamentarian-
ism. It is downright tragicomic that, whereas the Commission has displayed great concern about the humaneness
of animal transport, it is quite uninterested in the transport of human beings, to judge by its replies. Animal
transport is governed by Directives 91/628/EEC (3) and 95/29/EEC (4). I would therefore ask the President of the
Commission how he intends to ensure that the replies given on behalf of the Commission are actually answers to
the relevant questions, and I would ask Commissioner Kinnock whether he might be willing to look into the
questions a little more thoroughly − and into the replies to them written on his behalf − and to make them more

(1) OJ C 367, 4.12.1997, p. 80.

(2) OJ C 174, 8.6.1998, p. 20.
(3) OJ L 340, 11.12.1991, p. 17.
(4) OJ L 148, 30.6.1995, p. 52.
C 310/20 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10. 98

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(27 March 1998)

As previously mentioned in the replies to the Honourable Member’s written questions E-1118/97 and E-3131/97,
Community legislation does not cover seat spacing beyond the general safety requirements for aircraft, nor does
any other aviation legislation in other parts of the world.

The Commission is well informed about studies and reports on ‘the economy class passenger syndrome’ and the
consequences some passengers are reported to have suffered from being obliged to sit too long in a cramped

The Commission’s work programme does, however, follow certain established priorities taking into account the
relative importance of a variety of issues as well as limits on personnel and budget. The establishment of
mandatory standards for seat dimensions and space, other than those relating to general safety requirements, is
not amongst the priorities and it does not seem to be a priority issue in other parts of the world. The definition of
seat dimensions, therefore, remains the responsibility of aircraft operators.

The Commission provides clear, factual answers that take into account relevant authentic research and the extent
of the legal authority granted to the Commission under the EC Treaty. Its unanimous respect for Parliament and
for Honourable Members is unequivocal. It cannot always, however, guarantee that the answers honestly
provided will give personal or emotional satisfaction to all questioners.

(98/C 310/22) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0089/98

by Carlos Robles Piquer (PPE) to the Commission
(30 January 1998)

Subject: Alternatives to road transport for Spanish fruit and vegetables

The mere threat of French roads being blockaded by striking French transport workers is enough to cause the
price of certain Spanish fruits and vegetables to be halved, thus acting as a death sentence for these perishable
products from Spain.

There is therefore a need to find a permanent alternative to road transport to ensure that the threat of strike action
does not continue to have the catastrophic effect it has already had for the agricultural sector in Spain and in other
Member States.

Would the Commission be willing to assist in the creation of a permanent alternative system for the transport of
fruit and vegetables from Spain to the central and northern regions of the European Union during French
transport strikes, for example using roll-on roll-off ferries to transport lorries?

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(17 April 1998)

The Commission is aware of the serious difficulties experienced by Spanish exporters during certain industrial
disputes in France. While the Community is not in a position economically or legally to support the development
of alternative transport systems as a response to strikes the common transport policy aims at the wider
development of a European intermodal transport system which will provide alternative transport choices for
shippers and producers at all times. In the case of freight, such a transport system should encompass road, rail,
combined transport, inland waterway and maritime services.

Building on the achievements of the single market, the Commission has pursued a policy to promote modes of
transport that provide a sustainable alternative to road transport. In the case of the Iberian peninsula, the
Commission considers alternative services such as short sea shipping and combined transport services to be
particularly relevant. In its recent proposal (1) for a Parliament and Council Decision modifying Decision
No 1692/96/EC (2) concerning maritime ports, inland ports and intermodal terminals,the Commission proposed a