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C 310/40 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10.

98

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(31 March 1998)

On 3 December 1997 the Polish ministry of Transport and Shipping issued an ordinance setting the new level of
road charges to apply as of 1 January 1998. The ordinance was issued on the basis of the Polish law on the
conditions governing international road transport of 2 August 1997. This law aligned the structure of the Polish
road charging system with the main features of the so-called Eurovignette directive (1), specifying that the same
charges for the use of the Polish infrastructure should apply to both domestic and foreign vehicles engaged in
international transport. The ordinance specifies the amount of the charges to be paid in the form of vignette-type
cards on a daily, weekly, monthly, six-monthly or annual basis. In Poland the daily rate is about four times higher
than that of the Eurovignette and the annual rate is only slightly higher than the Eurovignette annual rate. Foreign
hauliers have to obtain these cards at the border crossings upon entry of Poland.

Poland is under no obligation to take over either the level or the proportionality of the Eurovignette-charges.
However, the level of the Polish road charges will be discussed in a special road transport meeting with the Polish
authorities. The Commission is not aware of any difficulties for foreign hauliers in obtaining these cards at the
borders, however this matter will also be raised at the aforementioned meeting.

(1) Council Directive 93/89/EEC of 25 October 1993 on the application by Member States of taxes on certain vehicles used for the carriage of
goods by road and tolls and charges for the use of certain infrastructures − OJ L 279, 12.11.1993.

(98/C 310/48) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0219/98

by Joaquim Miranda (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(11 February 1998)

Subject: Use of Community funds by the governments of Member States to reduce their budget deficits

The German daily newspaper ‘Die Welt’ recently published an article entitled ‘Other EU Member States use
German funds to join the euro’, which explicitly states that Spain and Portugal are using EU funds to improve
their budgetary situation with the aim of reducing their deficits in order to join the Economic and Monetary
Union.

The article also claims that the EU Court of Auditors is currently investigating these irregular budgetary practices
with a view to stopping them. To back up this claim, it quotes the President of the Court of Auditors, Mr Bernhard
Friedmann, as saying that the current rules allow unrestricted amounts to be advanced without checks being
carried out to ensure that such payments are used correctly and within the time limits set by Community
standards, given that ‘these subsidies remain in the hands of intermediary bodies instead of being sent to their
final beneficiaries’.

In view of the implications of such claims, which are all the more serious given the imminent decision as to
which Member States will form part of the first group to be admitted to the euro zone, will the Commission
clarify this situation as a matter of urgency and, in particular, answer the following questions:

1. Can it confirm all or some of the above claims? If so, which countries apply such measures, and at what level
are they used? What measures have been taken or are envisaged?

2. To what extent do the Commission and Court of Auditors cooperate in this field?

3. How does the Commission interpret the public statements made by the President of the Court of Auditors?