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C 96/26 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 8.4.


(1999/C 96/035) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2034/98

by Marie-Noëlle Lienemann (PSE) to the Commission

(7 July 1998)

Subject: Reduction in working time

How is it possible for the Commission to recommend in its document COM(98) 279 on the broad guidelines of
the economic policies of the Member States and the Community that ‘a compulsory and across-the-board
reduction in working time ..(..).. may have adverse consequences and should therefore be avoided’ when it knows
that two Member States have already decided to introduce a 35-hour working week?

Answer given by Mr de Silguy on behalf of the Commission

(22 September 1998)

The Commission has no intention of interfering in the policies of the Member States where these are purely a
matter of national competence. It intends to abide by the principle of subsidiarity.

However, the Commission is the guardian of the Community interest, including as regards economic policy. The
European Council and the Ecofin Council have called on it to secure greater coordination of economic policies so
as to guarantee the success of the single currency and a significant increase in employment in the Community. It
was with this aim in mind that the Commission drew up its 1998 recommendation on the broad guidelines of
economic policy.

The Commission is therefore entitled to issue independent opinions on any economic policy initiatives which
may have a marked effect on the Community economy as a whole or on the achievement of the objectives
assigned to economic policy by Article 2 of the EC Treaty. A reduction in working time falls into that category. It
is only natural therefore that the Commission should express its views on the matter, while abiding by the
principle of subsidiarity.

The Commission takes the view that the reduction in working time must not adversely affect the competitiveness
of European firms. However, it is true that this general principle is not incompatible with national initiatives
which adapt the reduction in working time with the aim of maintaining European competitiveness.

(1999/C 96/036) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2042/98

by Nikitas Kaklamanis (UPE) to the Commission

(7 July 1998)

Subject: Continual fines and charges imposed on Greek international road haulage operators

Greek international road hauliers are facing enormous problems in passing through the FYROM and Albania. The
authorities of these countries are constantly imposing excess weight charges, exorbitant transit levies,
decontamination levies etc. on Greek road hauliers, while hundreds of Bulgarian, FYROM and Albanian lorries
(which are in a terrible condition) are allowed to move freely on Greece’s road network.

Will the Commission say whether it is considering the possibility of making representations to the authorities of
the countries which are continually causing problems for EU road hauliers (and singling out Greeks in particular)
to cease adopting a provocative policy towards EU international road hauliers and constantly fining them,
especially since these countries receive generous aid from the European Union?

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(16 September 1998)

The imposition on Greek hauliers of transit and disinfection taxes in Albania and the former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia is principally made, for the time being under the terms of bilateral agreements or arrangements
concluded between individual Member States and the third country in question.
8.4.1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 96/27

In the case of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, however, the relevant provisions of the agreement
between the Community and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in transport (1) also apply. The
agreement provides that the taxation of road vehicles, tolls and other charges must be non-discriminatory. It also
provides that until 31 December 2002 at the latest, road vehicles that do not comply with the existing standards of
the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia may be subject to a special non-discriminatory charge that reflects
the damage caused by additional axle weight.

The Commission monitors the correct application of these provisions. Any problem notified to the Commission,
may be raised in the framework of the relevant transport or co-operation Committees in order to reach mutually
acceptable solutions. If Greek operators have reason to believe that these provisions are not applied correctly,
they should immediately provide detailed information to the Commission.

Financial support by the Community, including European investment bank (EIB) lending, is granted to the former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Albania and other countries in Eastern Europe to assist with the improvement
of the main transit routes to Community standards, with a view to abolishing any special charges levied on
overweight vehicles once these roads have been upgraded.

Where the roadworthiness of vehicles from the countries mentioned by the Honourable Member is concerned, the
national authorities of any state where these vehicles circulate have the right to take off the road any vehicles that
are deemed unsafe.

(1) OJ L 348, 18.12.1997.

(1999/C 96/037) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2043/98

by Nikitas Kaklamanis (UPE) to the Commission

(7 July 1998)

Subject: Testing of cosmetic products on animals

In a quite incomprehensible move, the Commission has postponed the entry into force of a directive banning
animal testing for cosmetics until 2000. This directive which provided for a ban on the testing of cosmetic
products on animals from January 1998 has already been approved by the European Parliament. This is an
extremely grave matter as animals are subjected to great suffering, and there are good grounds for questioning the
utility of this suffering, since the cosmetics industry now has alternative testing methods.

Will the Commission say why the entry into force of the directive in question has been deferred and what
alternative measures it has taken to prevent the continuing sadistic treatment of animals at the hands of the
cosmetics industry?

Answer given by Mr Bangemann on behalf of the Commission

(21 September 1998)

The sixth amendment of the Cosmetics Directive (Council Directive 93/35/EC of 14 June 1993 amending for the
sixth time Council Directive 76/768/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to
cosmetic products (1)) foresaw a prohibition of the marketing of cosmetic products containing ingredients or
combinations of ingredients tested on animals after 1 January 1998. However, the Directive also stressed the need
to offer the consumer a degree of protection equivalent to that obtained by animal experiments, and it invited the
Commission to propose a postponement of this deadline if alternative methods had not been developed and
legally accepted.

Following a thorough review of the status of alternative methods, the Commission put forward a postponement of
the implementation of the ban. The primary reason for this was that the main objective of Council Directive 76/
768/EEC on cosmetic products (2) is to protect public health and it is therefore indispensable to carry out certain
toxicological tests to evaluate the safety for human health of ingredients and combinations of ingredients used in
cosmetic product formulations. The development, validation and acceptance of alternative methods proved to be
an extremely complex scientific challenge. In particular, the timetable for the various stages of the development
and validation process had previously been underestimated. Significant progress had been made in research into
alternative methods to animal testing, particularly in the end-points relevant to cosmetic products. However, no