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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
States?

(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.