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C 310/22 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10.

98

The figures of the duty-free lobby confirm that there is increased demand at airports and on airlines and ferries.
This is the result of the transport liberalisation in the Community which has created a substantial market for
conducting business at airports and on airlines and ferries. From experience in the United States with tax-paid
retail shopping, it is evident that this very captive market provides a lucrative business which will not disappear
with the abolition of duty-free sales. The real challenge is for the industry to explore the opportunities such a
market presents.

To prevent negative effects on employment and to alleviate workers’ fears for their job security, it is important
that duty-free shop operators use what is left of the transitional period constructively and prepare for the end of
duty-free sales to travellers within the single market.

It is evident that the common position of the Council and the Commission on the duty-free issue is supported by
solid arguments. The Commission recently explained the reasons for the Council decision, and the fact that these
reasons remain sound, in a press release, accompanied by a technical memo (1), all of which can be found on the
Internet (2). This has significantly helped to balance the press coverage and the Commission will continue the
efforts to ensure that the debate remains detached.

(1) Commission press-release (IP/97/808) and attached information memo (MEMO/97/82) of 24 September 1997.
(2) The homepage of DG XXI is accessed by ‘http://www.cc.cec/DGXXI)publicat/newsroom/index.htm’.

(98/C 310/24) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0107/98


by Ria Oomen-Ruijten (PPE) to the Commission
(30 January 1998)

Subject: Recycling textiles

Items of second-hand clothing are finished products which, without any processing or change in their nature, can
be re-used as clothing. In developing countries, in particular, second-hand clothing imported from Western
countries supply a considerable need. However, in accordance with Article 1(a) of Directive 75/442/EEC (1),
used textiles constitute waste.

1. Does the Commission think it right that second-hand clothing exported to developing countries where it
supplies a major need should be defined as ‘waste’?

2. Does the Commission feel that the definition of waste should be revised, or that scope should be created for
exceptions, since dismissing second-hand clothing which is re-used as clothing as ‘waste’ suggests a lack of
understanding?

3. Does the Commission also feel that if the situation remains as it is and it becomes increasingly difficult to
export second-hand clothing for a good cause to developing countries, many people in the Member States will
fail to appreciate this and they will have less confidence in the European ideal?

(1) OJ L 194, 25.7.1975, p. 39.

Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission


(16 March 1998)

The definition of waste is laid down in Article 1.1(a) of Directive 75/442/EEC as amended by Directive
91/156/EEC on waste (1) and states that waste shall mean ‘any substance or object in the categories set out in
Annex I which the holder discards or intends or is required to discard’. Annex I lists under Q14 ‘products for
which the holder has no further use (e.g. agricultural, household, office, commercial and shop discards, etc.)’.
On the basis of the above, the Commission holds the view that the determining factor when considering whether
something is or not a waste is whether the holder discards the object, or intends or is required to discard it.
9. 10. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/23

If the holder discards or has the intention to discard the worn clothing the definition of waste applies.
The destination of the clothes, for example whether the clothes are collected separately, taken to a charity shop or
put together with the household waste is irrelevant in this respect.

It is however not excluded that worn clothing which the holder has discarded can lose the qualification of being a
‘waste’ and can be considered as a product again. To this end, an adequate treatment, following the (separate)
collection but preceding a possible export, could take place in the form of sorting, cleaning, reparation etc.

Discussions in the framework of the Organisation for economic co-operation and development (OECD)
concerning the definition of waste currently aim to establish a number of criteria which must give an indication
whether in a given case an object is a waste or not, and also when a waste could be considered a product again.
On the basis of the final results of this discussion, which are due for April 1998, the Commission will examine
whether there is a need to take up the debate on the Community definition of waste, and in particular concerning
possible amendments which should lead to a better application of the definition.

The current situation with regard to exports of non-hazardous waste, including worn clothing, to developing
countries is that these can take place as normal commercial transactions, without specific control, as foreseen in
Article 1.3(a) of Regulation (EEC) No 259/93 of 1 February 1993 on the supervision and control of shipments of
waste within, into and out of the Community (2).

However, Article 17 of Regulation (EEC) No 259/93 provides that the Commission consults all non-OECD
countries whether they want to be able to import waste listed in Annex II of this Regulation (the so-called green
list) without control or whether they prefer that one of the control procedures of the Regulation be applied to such
exports out of the Community.

On the basis of the answers to this consultation the Commission has made proposals for legislation to
accommodate the answers of the third countries. However, several countries have answered that they did not
wish to receive any such waste for recovery, and also a large number of countries did not reply to the
consultation.

Taking into account the precautionary principle, the Commission proposal for a Council regulation concerning
this group of countries foresees to apply the control procedure which normally applies to export of waste listed in
Annex IV. In its opinion on the proposal, the Parliament asked for a prohibition of exports of waste to the
countries which asked for such a prohibition as well as to countries which did not react to the consultation.
The Commission has taken the amendments of the Parliament on board as far as the countries requesting an
export prohibition are concerned. However as regards the countries which did not take position, the Commission
is of the opinion that the control procedure foreseen in the proposal is sufficient. The Council of December 1997
came to a common position along the same lines.

The future situation concerning the export of worn clothing to developing countries will therefore depend on, in
the first instance, the answer of the country in question to the consultation of the Commission, and in second
instance on the final position which the Parliament and the Council will take as regards the proposal in question.
Of course a third country can at any time change its position, in general or with regard to specific categories of
waste, pursuant to which the Commission can then propose new measures to accommodate the modified
position.

(1) OJ L 78, 26.3.1991.


(2) OJ L 30, 6.2.1993.

(98/C 310/25) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0113/98


by Susan Waddington (PSE) to the Commission
(30 January 1998)

Subject: Driving Licence Directive 91/439/EEC

Following the modification of Directive 91/439/EEC (1) people suffering from certain medical conditions, such
as diabetes, are restricted to driving vehicles below 3.5 tonnes. Is a person with type 1 diabetes banned from
driving a vehicle, such as a minibus, which weighs over 3.5 tonnes or do they have to seek a medical certificate
stating that they are fit to drive?

(1) OJ L 237, 24.8.1991, p. 1.