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C 310/58 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10.

98

Greek farmers which is becoming acutely difficult, threatening to spark off a further round of mass protests?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission


(19 March 1998)

The Commission does not share the Greek farmers’ analysis as reported by the Honourable Member regarding
the problems which they are said to be facing on the markets in olive oil, cotton and citrus fruit.

Specifically on the question of olive oil, the Commission would like to point out that the fall in prices on the
market is due to high production in all producer Member States over two consecutive marketing years and to the
management decision of olive growers to keep back large quantities of oil instead of placing them on the market
in the previous marketing year. The drop in support in Greece, via production aid, involves only about 25% of
growers. The remaining 75% are not affected by the application of the budget stabiliser since they are treated as
small producers within the meaning of Council Regulation No 136/66/EEC of 22 September 1966 on the
establishment of a common organisation of the market in oils and fats (1).

To cope with the difficult market situation, the Commission has already taken measures in the form of private
storage aid, authorising the storage of 30 000 tonnes of olive oil in Greece. It has also made the regulatory
provisions clearer in order to assist producer organisations to take better advantage of this scheme. Before
contemplating other market intervention measures, the Commission would like to await the results of
implementing this private storage aid scheme.

(1) OJ 172, 30.09.1966.

(98/C 310/74) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0405/98


by Nikitas Kaklamanis (UPE) to the Commission
(24 February 1998)

Subject: Use of radioactive iron for the construction of the Athens underground railway

According to reports in the Greek press, iron from Chernobyl containing the carcinogenic radioactive substances
caesium and strontium is being used in the construction of the Athens underground railway. The same reports
indicate that no checks have been carried out to establish the levels of caesium 137 and strontium contained in the
iron used for the construction of the Athens underground railway and that it is being imported through many
different companies making it difficult to ascertain its origin.

What are the Commission’s official views on this and what measures will it take to establish whether the iron
being used is in fact radioactive since this is certain to affect the health of the millions of Athenians using the
underground line?

Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission


(14 April 1998)

The Commission is aware that scrap metals containing radioactive substances are occasionally detected either at
the border posts of entry into the Community or at the gates of the industries dealing with scrap metals. In the vast
majority of the cases detected, the levels of radioactivity did not require particular radiation protection measures
to be taken.

In July 1996 the Commission organised a meeting with representatives of Member States to consider the subject.
It concluded that although the possibility of the presence in the scrap metals of an important radiation source
cannot be completely ruled out, the existing radiation protection measures in place in the Member States ensure
an adequate level of safety, reached through the system of control of the sources established in the Member
States in compliance with the Council Directive No 96/29/Euratom of 13 May 1996 (1) laying down basic safety
standards for the health protection of the general public and workers against the dangers of ionising radiation.
9. 10. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/59

This directive, whose requirements shall be brought into force before 13 May 2000, repeals previous directives.
The Commission continues to monitor the situation, particularly to ensure that scrap metals contaminated with
radioactive substances are not imported from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe or from the former
Soviet Union.

The Commission has no information on the specific case mentioned by the Honourable Member.

(1) OJ L 159, 29.6.1996.

(98/C 310/75) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0406/98


by Phillip Whitehead (PSE) to the Commission
(24 February 1998)

Subject: Prescribed Quantity systems

Which Member States have a Prescribed Quantity system which has been investigated, and why did the
Commission feel that the existence of a PQ system in the British break market posed a threat to inter-Community
trade?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission


(23 April 1998)

The Commission is collecting the information it needs to answer the question. It will communicate its findings as
soon as possible.

(98/C 310/76) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0407/98


by Mark Watts (PSE) to the Commission
(24 February 1998)

Subject: Aircraft safety in the year 2000

Pilots have threatened a worldwide boycott in the year 2000, fearing that the ‘Millennium Bug’ will disrupt
computer systems that keep planes in the air and prevent collisions.

Is the Commission satisfied that Member States, third countries, airlines and aviation authorities are acting with
sufficient urgency to ensure that planes do not drop out of the sky or collide in the year 2000?

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission


(17 April 1998)

The Commission shares the concerns expressed by the Honourable Member about the potentially serious
problems that could arise from the date change, and has addressed the issue in its communication on The Year
2000 Computer Problem (1). This is designed to try to ensure a high level of awareness on the subject and to
establish effective liaison with all the supervisory authorities for energy, transport and telecommunications and
in the financial markets and other economic sectors.

As there is genuine concern that the date changeover problem could affect safety in civil aviation, the
Commission issued a circular in December 1997 to all the Member States to clarify what actions each Member
State is going to undertake or has already put in place. Similar letters were sent to the main airline and airport
organisations (IATA, AEA, ERA, ACE, ACI).