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C 402/72 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 22.12.

98

Joint answer to Written Questions


E-1079/98, E-1080/98 and E-1081/98
given by Mr Van Miert on behalf of the Commission

(8 May 1998)

The wide ranging consultation on the green paper on vertical restraints in Community competition policy (1)
terminated in a public hearing on 6 and 7 October 1997. During the consultation process 227 written submissions
were received by the Commission. The Commission has analysed the vast amount of information obtained during
the consultation exercise. A policy paper will be proposed to the Commission for adoption in the course of this
year which will set out the Commission’s proposal for a new policy in the field of vertical restraints.

It is as yet too early to comment on the possible content of this policy paper and the Commission is not, at this
stage, in a position to inform the Honourable Member whether it is envisaged to extend the existing block
exemption regulations or whether any new policy would involve a greater use of market shares.

Following the adoption of a policy paper, work will commence on any necessary legislative changes.
The adoption of new legislation in the field of vertical restraints will follow the normal legislative procedure
which includes a number of consultations both of institutions, Member States and interested parties. This
legislative process is likely to take until the end of 1999.

(1 ) COM(96) 721 final.

(98/C 402/089) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1082/98

by Jean-Antoine Giansily (UPE) to the Commission

(7 April 1998)

Subject: The future of small cafés and bars in rural areas

The press has recently reported that the Commission is funding small village cafés in deprived areas of the South
of France under its Leader programme (the Community initiative for rural development).

This seems admirable, given that local cafés help maintain the social, economic and cultural life of the EU’s rural
areas and assist the tourist trade.

Local cafés also indubitably help prevent alcohol abuse by providing a social setting that encourages moderation
rather than excess.

That being so, does the Commission agree that it is paradoxical that, at a time when DG VI is supporting cafés by
means of the Structural Funds, another directorate-general, DG IV, is in danger of closing them down by
considering the possibility, in the Green Paper on Vertical Restraints in EC Competition Policy, of withdrawing
or restricting the opportunities allowed to the main brewers whose market share exceeds a given threshold to
finance cafés by means of exclusive purchasing agreements?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(8 May 1998)

The Honourable Member has drawn the Commission’s attention to the connections between the Community
Leader II Initiative and the Green Paper on vertical restraints in EU competition policy (1). As regards the Green
Paper, the Commission would ask the Honourable Member to refer to the answers given to his written questions
E-1079/98, 1080/98 and 1081/98.
22.12.98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 402/73

The aim of Community intervention under Leader II is to stimulate economic activity and to improve living
conditions in small rural communities represented by local action groups responsible for a local development
programme. This objective is not contradictory to that of competition policy, which aims to create a fair
competitive environment for the benefit of European businesses and consumers.

With this in view, the Commission wishes drinks outlets to be given more opportunity to buy from the brewer of
their choice, thus pursuing the commercial policy most favourable to their own and their customers’ interests by
increasing consumer choice as to the beer brands available in local cafés.

If future competition policy on vertical restraints − following the consultations and proposals launched by the
Green Paper − were to result in restricting the scope for applying a block exemption by means of setting market-
share thresholds, this would not mean that brewers exceeding those thresholds would be denied the option of
concluding exclusive agreements. It would merely mean that those agreements would no longer be automatically
exempt. Individual exemptions could still be granted on the basis of Article 85(3) of the EC Treaty, provided that
the agreements concerned enabled production and distribution to be improved, brought substantial benefits to
consumers and did not prevent effective competition. These requirements are not contradictory to the aims of
Leader II.

(1 ) COM(96) 721 final.

(98/C 402/090) WRITTEN QUESTION P-1084/98

by Nel van Dijk (V) to the Commission

(30 March 1998)

Subject: Possible fraud in connection with Dutch beef exports

Is the Commission aware of reports that Dutch meat exporters are involved in the wide-scale misuse of
certificates and stamps of origin, in order to pass off imported beef and imported cattle after slaughter as meat of
Dutch origin, so as to evade the restrictions on re-exports agreed between the Netherlands and Russia (1)?

Is the Commission aware of evidence that officials in the Central Organization for the Meat Industry are
encouraging this fraud, that the Netherlands Government Meat and Livestock Inspectorate (RVV) has been
permitting such practices for as much as three years, and that they are known to the Ministry of Agriculture at the
highest level?

1. Does the Commission have information confirming these reports?

2. What steps has the Commission taken or will it be taking to ensure as soon as possible that fraud of this kind
ceases to undermine its BSE policy and put public health at risk?

3. Does the Commission see any opportunities for stepping up its own checks on Dutch slaughterhouses and
beef exporters, particularly since doubts have been raised about supervision by the RVV?

4. Will the Commission claim back export refunds that have already been paid if meat fraud is proved to have
taken place?

(1 ) De Limburger newspaper, 13 and 14 March 1998; Netwerk television programme, 13 March 1998.