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C 310/98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10.

98

What representations has the Commission made to the rest of the international community, both governments
and agencies, in an effort to end this situation?

What assistance will the Commission lend to the Bubi people and the MAIB to enable them to work on an equal
footing for the democratization of the country and to fight for their survival as a people?

Does the Commission believe that the conditions exist to warrant releasing EU cooperation aid for Equatorial
Guinea?

Answer given by Mr Pinheiro on behalf of the Commission


(2 April 1998)

In talks with the government of Equatorial Guinea on the events referred to by the Honourable Member, the
Commission, working closely with the Member States, has voiced grave concern at the serious human rights
violations on these occasions by the police.

Following a number of approaches by the Commission, the authorities said that those who had violated human
rights would be tried and punished. In addition, those found guilty of the armed attack against the police on
21 January would be brought to a public trial which Community observers could attend.

The best way to protect minorities is through the establishment of democracy. The Commission would stress the
need to protect human rights whether the individuals involved belong to minorities or not. It would also point to
the importance of respect for the cultural identity and rights of minorities which they must be able to exercise
together with other members of their group.

The gradual resumption of cooperation with Equatorial Guinea depends on the progress it makes on respecting
human rights, democratic principle and the rule of law, in accordance with Article 5 of the fourth Lomé
Convention.

(98/C 310/131) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0591/98


by Honório Novo (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(23 February 1998)

Subject: Express railway for Porto − tendering procedure

Last week it was reported in the Portuguese media that the Commission had asked the Portuguese authorities to
provide explanations on the procedure for inviting tenders and awarding the contract for the construction of an
electrified express railway serving the Metropolitan Area of Porto (known as the Porto metro). It appears that this
request is linked to an appeal lodged with the Commission by the last bidder rejected in the public tendering
procedure, apparently on the same grounds as were alleged in a previous appeal to the Portuguese contracting
undertaking, which rejected the appeal.

The Commission will no doubt be aware that the long-awaited and badly needed construction of the express
railway has been affected by a series of delays since it was first announced (at the end of the 1980s) and officially
presented (1993), the reasons for which naturally lie with the national and local authorities involved in the
project.

In this context, the Commission surely appreciates that a fresh delay, this time caused by the Commission itself,
is likely to increase the exasperation felt by the public, who should by now have been able to enjoy the benefits of
this project, and at the same time lead to growing public distrust of the Community institutions.
9. 10. 98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/99

Finally, the Commission should be aware that fresh delays to the project may compromise the sound and full
execution of Community funds for reasons which could not then be attributed to the national authorities. Given
that we are coming to the end of CSF II, such delays might lead to an accumulation of projects in the final year of
the CSF (1999).

1. Is the Commission aware that the grounds alleged by the losing bidder had already been substantially
addressed in connection with the appeal submitted in Portugal and rejected by the competent national
authorities?

2. Is the Commission in a position to take steps to remedy the consequences arising from the delays caused by
its request for clarification in the event that those explanations show the appeal to be without foundation? If so,
what will these steps be?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission


(5 May 1998)

The Commission does not doubt the importance of the proposed rail link for the public of Porto or the benefits it
may bring for day-to-day life in the area.

However, in is capacity as guardian of the Treaties, the Commission has the task of ensuring that the provisions
of Community legislation are correctly applied and that, in this connection, all complaints lodged with it against
practices that may be in breach of Community law are examined, irrespective of whether or not they have been
lodged with the national authorities and irrespective of the outcome of presentation to the national authorities. It
is the Commission’s duty in particular to intervene where Community funds may be involved, as is indeed so in
the case at issue, so as to ensure that they are correctly used.

A request for information has thus been sent to the Portuguese authorities, asking for a swift reply and
suspending the award procedure until the matters raised have been fully clarified. Once it has received that
information, the Commission will take all the steps that it deems appropriate.

(98/C 310/132) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0600/98


by Panayotis Lambrias (PPE) to the Commission
(4 March 1998)

Subject: Civil aviation safety

Given the concern felt by public opinion about safety in the wake of the recent air disasters, can the Commission
confirm reports by the relevant organisations that the European Union is lagging behind the United States in
investments aimed at promoting civil aviation safety,? What measures does it intend to take to remedy this
situation?

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission


(15 April 1998)

The Commission is not aware of reports of the sort referred to by the Honourable Member and cannot therefore
respond to this part of the question. If the Honourable Member has material relating to such reports he is
welcome to provide them for the Commission.

The Commission has taken a number of initiatives to contribute to an improvement in the already high safety
standards of civil aviation in the Union. In particular, the Honourable Member is referred to the Commission
Communication on ‘Defining a Community aviation safety improvement strategy’ (1) for further details of the
actions proposed by the Commission.

(1) SEC(96) 1083 final.