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9. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/133

During the dispute settlement proceedings on the Japanese market for photographic film and paper, Japan
outlined its policy of ensuring non-discriminatory access to the Japanese distribution system and improving
market access in the photographic film sector and other sectors. Japan did not make any specific commitments
during the dispute settlement proceedings.

To ensure progress in the opening up of this market, as well as the Japanese market in general, the Commission
will continue to track closely the implementation of the stated Japanese policy of improved market access. The
Commission has urged Japan to undertake fundamental reforms in its distribution system so as to reduce the high
costs of doing business in Japan, to improve market access for foreign exporters and service providers, and to
provide more consumer choice. Recently the Commission sent more than 200 deregulation proposals to the
Japanese government. These included suggestions in the field of distribution. The Commission proposals also
requested that Japan strengthen competition policy enforcement. The implementation of the Japanese new
three-year deregulation programme from April 1998 provides an opportunity for measures to be taken to
facilitate access to the Japanese distribution system for foreign companies.

(98/C 310/179) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0802/98

by André Laignel (PSE) to the Commission
(26 March 1998)

Subject: Applying the 35-hour-week initiative throughout the European Union

Throughout the European Union, a reduction of the working week to 35 hours would clearly have a beneficial
effect on employment, the quality of life of European citizens and equality of access to employment.

To that end, a clear and spontaneous undertaking by the Commission is essential. In what form and on what time
scale does the Commission propose to act to harmonize social legislation in line with the best practice,
particularly by establishing a legal working week of 35 hours in all countries of the European Union?

Answer given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission

(14 May 1998)

The Commission believes that the best approach to issues relating to the modernisation of the organisation of
work, including working time arrangements, is that set out in the Council Resolution of 15 December 1997 on the
1998 employment guidelines (1). These invite the social partners ‘to negotiate, at the appropriate levels,
agreements to modernize the organisation of work, including flexible working arrangements, with the aim of
making undertakings productive and competitive and achieving the required balance between flexibility and
security. Such agreements may for example, cover the expression of working time as an annual figure, the
reduction of working hours, the reduction of overtime, the development of part-time working, lifelong training
and career breaks’.

The Commission will continue to support efforts by the social parners, at all levels, to reach agreement on any or
all of these issues as a means of attaining the goal of adaptability. However, other than ensuring the protection of
the health and safety of workers in regard to the organisation of working time, it is not the Commission’s
intention to propose further statutory reductions in the average working week.

(1) OJ C 30, 28.1.1998.