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9. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/127

2. In that Decision, the Council,

noting that ‘the Commission of the European Communities has to date felt obliged to consider some of the
cross-border fixed price systems submitted to it as being incompatible with Article 85(1) or Article 30 of the
Treaty and has declared that in those cases the evidence produced in support of exemption within the meaning of
Article 85(3) was not sufficient’;

and that ‘the inclusion in the Treaty of Article 128(4)’ – which provides that the Council shall take cultural
aspects into account in its action under other provisions of the Treaty – ‘has created a new situation, the
consequences of which must be clarified with respect to the application of Community competition rules to
cross-border fixed book prices’;

‘asks the Commission to study the significance of Article 128(4) for the implementation of those Articles of the
Treaty that may concern cross-border fixed book prices, and to indicate, if appropriate, the ways to enable fixed
book-price regulations/agreements within the homogeneous linguistic areas to be applied.’

3. The Council looks forward with the keenest anticipation to examining the outcome of the discussions
conducted by the Commission in accordance with the above Decision.

4. However, it should be noted that it is not for the Council to approach the Commission with regard to
proceedings taken by it in application of the relevant provisions on competition.

(1) OJ C 305, 7.10.1997, p. 2.

(98/C 310/171) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0775/98

by Joan Colom i Naval (PSE) to the Commission
(5 March 1998)

Subject: Commitments still outstanding in structural actions

Can the Commission supply the following information relating to the situation as at 31 December 1997:
− The amount of commitments still outstanding in the EAGGF Guidance Section, FIFG, ERDF, ESF and the
Cohesion Fund, with a breakdown by Member State and an indication as to whether the appropriations were
committed in 1997, 1996, 1995, 1994 or earlier.
− The relation between the amount of appropriations awaiting disbursement in each member State and the
level of commitments accumulated in each Member State in the period 1994-1997.
− A comparative analysis of changes in the disbursement of commitment appropriations, payment
appropriations and commitments still outstanding.
− The amount of commitments still outstanding on 31 December each year in relation to the commitment
appropriations allocated each year for the period 1994-1997.

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(29 April 1998)

Because of its volume, the information requested is being sent direct to the Honourable Member and to
Parliament’s Secretariat.

The Honourable Member’s attention is drawn to the fact that the situation as regards outstanding commitments
under the Structural Funds, which are multiannual operations and where clearance of the commitments is spread
over several years, can be regarded as normal.

As can be seen from figure 1 in the document sent direct to the Honourable Member and to Parliament’s
Secretariat, the pattern of outstanding commitments and their volume develop in parallel to the commitments
made. It can also be seen that while the growth of outstanding commitments between 1997 and 1996 (+10%) is
higher than the growth of commitments (+4%), the annual growth rate of outstanding commitments for the period
1994 to 1997 has slackened considerably (see figure 2).
C 310/128 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10. 98

It should also be noted, as shown by figure 3, that at 31 December 1997 almost 90% of the outstanding
commitments originated during the current programme. Most of the commitments prior to the present period
have been cleared.

Lastly, the Commission would inform the Honourable Member that it is currently working on cumulative
1994-97 data relating to the utilisation of Structural Fund appropriations in terms of commitments and payments
and to the trend in outstanding commitments by Fund and by Member State. Once the work is completed, the
results will be communicated to the budgetary authority.

(98/C 310/172) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0782/98

by James Provan (PPE) to the Commission
(18 March 1998)

Subject: Hens in battery cages

Under Article 7 of Directive 88/166/EEC (1) on minimum standards for the protection of laying hens in battery
cages, the Commission is required to carry out inspections to ensure uniform application.

Now that the Veterinary Inspectorate has been relabelled, moved to new headquarters, and has received more
inspectors, would the Commission say how many inspections of battery cage units were carried out in 1997 and
is the Commission satisfied that the provisions of 88/166/EEC are being properly implemented in all Member

(1) OJ L 74, 19.03.1988, p. 83.

Answer given by Mrs Bonino on behalf of the Commission

(16 April 1998)

The Food and veterinary office (FVO) has a very wide range of responsibilities in monitoring the manner in
which Community veterinary, food and plant health legislation is implemented.

There are presently 46 inspectors in the FVO. Part of the existing veterinary inspection resources in the office is
already given over specifically to the monitoring of animal welfare controls, although this remains at the moment
a minor part of the FVO inspection work. Due to the extreme pressure of work associated with bovine
spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) controls, and the need to respond to health emergencies, it was not possible to
include in the mission programme for 1997 the area of animal welfare to which the Honourable Member refers.

However, the Commission is significantly increasing the number of staff allocated to the office to allow it to
undertake the full range of its duties. Inevitably, this recruitment process, and the completion of necessary staff
training, will take some time. Nonetheless, the Commission is aware of the importance attached to all aspects of
animal welfare, which will be given their due weight in future decisions as to the allocation of the resources
required by the FVO to carry out its duties.

The Honourable Member may wish to note that the FVO is introducing a risk assessment-based mission
prioritisation system. This will ensure that mission programmes reflect a balanced assessment of the different
control and inspection demands placed upon it.