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1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 31/7

Does the Commission have any proposals on how rights of workers to freedom of association and collective
bargaining may be upheld in cases where companies seek to deny these rights?

Supplementary answer
given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission

(13 May 1998)

The matter mentioned by the Honourable Member does not fall within the competence of the Community. Article
2(b) of the Agreement on social policy annexed to the Social Protocol (new Article 137 (b) of the Amsterdam
Treaty) clearly states that its provisions shall not apply to the right of association, the right to strike or the right to
impose lock-outs.

However, the Commission is responsible for developing relations between management and labour at European
level. The European social dialogue is built on the foundations of co-operation and dialogue at European and
national level. If one side of industry refuses even to recognise the legitimacy of the other, then the whole
structure of social dialogue and co-operation is undermined.

A study on the social effects of changes in the civil aviation sector is sent direct to the Honourable Member and to
Parliament’s Secretariat.

(1999/C 31/009) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0916/98

by Heidi Hautala (V) to the Commission

(26 March 1998)

Subject: Tree-felling in contravention of Community legislation in Konikallio, near Forssa (Finland)

Directive 92/43/EEC (1) and its Annex IV specify the animal and plant species in respect of which deliberate
disturbance, particularly during the period of breeding, rearing, hibernation and migration (Art. 12(1)(b)), and
deterioration or destruction of breeding sites or resting places (Art. 12(1)(d)) is prohibited. These rules have also
been incorporated into Finnish environmental protection legislation. The flying squirrel is included among the
species in Annex IV, and therefore it is also a protected species which is covered by the provisions of the above-
mentioned directive and environmental protection law. Among the EU Member States, the flying squirrel is
found only in Finland where it is classified as endangered and its level of protection as poor.

Experts consider that the forest area of Konikallio near Forssa, in its entirety, is the best possible habitat for the
flying squirrel. At the beginning of February 1998 felling began and a permit was obtained for gravel extraction
which could clearly be regarded as having infringed, and still infringing, the above-mentioned provisions. No
attempt was made in the course of felling to take account of the living requirements of the flying squirrel so as to
prevent its breeding sites being deteriorated or destroyed. The felling was carried out at a time which disturbed
the flying squirrels during their breeding season.

Research also indicates that the area is a habitat for seven species of bird referred to in the Annex to the Council
Directive on the protection of wild birds (79/409/EEC) (2). The plans for the use of the area failed to take any
account of this fact. The protection of bird species under Annex I of the Wild Birds Directive is a problem not just
in the recent case in Konikallio, but especially in the ancient forests in Eastern and Northern Finland owned by the
Finnish Government and managed by the national Forestry Administration.

What measures does the Commission propose to take to prevent more endangered species listed as endangered in
the Natural Habitats and Wild Birds Directives from being destroyed before the Natura 2000 Community list is
ratified? What penalties does the Commission intend to impose on Member States which permit Natura 2000
areas to be destroyed before the ratification of the network?

(1) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7.

(2) OJ L 103, 25.4.1979, p. 1.
C 31/8 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 5.2.1999

Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission

(10 June 1998)

As pointed out by the Honourable Member, Article 12 of Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the
conservation of national habitats and of wild fauna and flora, the habitats Directive, requires the strict protection
of animal species in its Annex IV (a) and prohibits deliberate disturbance and the deterioration or destruction of
breeding sites or resting places.

A forest area of Konikallio in Finland hosting flying squirrels, an Annex IV (a) species, was subject to logging
and gravel extraction. The environmental and forestry authorities excluded from logging a one hectare area to
protect the nesting and resting trees of the squirrels. The logging proceeded without disturbing the flying
squirrels, which were not breeding. The environmental impact of the gravel extraction was assessed and the size
of the extraction area reduced. These measures were taken to safeguard the flying squirrels. The Commission has
no reason to object to the way the case was handled.

The Honourable Member also refers to bird species of Annex I of the Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April
1979 on the conservation of wild birds, the birds Directive, occurring at Konikallio. Despite the presence of these
species the Commission has no scientific evidence to conclude that this area qualifies for protection under the
birds Directive.

The habitats Directive requires sites of Community importance to be protected from the moment a Community
list is adopted. Before that the Commission encourages the Member States to use means in the national
legislation, such as temporary prohibitions, to prevent candidate sites from being destroyed. This encouragement
is also reflected in the Community support to nature conservation projects under Council Regulation (EC) 1404/
96 of 15 July 1996 amending Regulation (EEC) 1973/92 establishing a financial instrument for the environment
(Life) (1) and environmentally friendly farming schemes under Council Regulation (EEC) 2078/92 of 30 June
1992 on agricultural protection methods compatible with the requirements of the protection of the environment
aid the maintenance of the country side (2).

The Commission has no power to impose penalties on Member Sates in the circumstances mentioned.
Any penalties that might arise can only be in accordance with the relevant legislation in the Member State

(1) OJ L 181, 20.7.1996.

(2) OJ L 215, 30.7.1992.

(1999/C 31/010) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0920/98

by Brigitte Langenhagen (PPE) to the Commission

(26 March 1998)

Subject: EU standard for listeria

There is no binding, uniform standard in the EU for limit values for listeria. In the past the Member States’
differing positions on permissible levels of listeria have led to distortions of the market, causing considerable
damage to enterprises.

For this reason, and with a view to enabling the fish processing industry to plan ahead safely, does the
Commission consider that it would be desirable to establish an EU standard for listeria in fish products?