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C 207/168 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 21.7.


Will the Commission say:

1. What is the breakdown of the take-up rate of appropriations for these actions, and precisely what will
happen in future?

2. What is the reason for the long delay in the take-up of the relevant appropriations, and what
consequences may this have for the development of data-processing and libraries in Greek schools?

3. How can it account for the fact that the appropriations in favour of books and staff under action 1.1b have
been fully taken up, while in the case of most of the other projects provided for under the action in
question the take-up rate is absolutely nil?

Answer given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission

(24 February 1999)

These actions are co-financed by the European social fund (ESF) and the European regional development fund
(ERDF) in the framework of the operational programme (OP) of the Greek Community support framework.

1. According to information provided by the ministry of Education, the payments made by the ministry,
expressed as percentages of the total budgets of the actions, at the beginning of 1999 amounted to 64 % for the
ESF and 3 % for the ERDF (information technology) and 1,6 % for the ESF and 0 % for the ERDF (school
libraries). These figures show that less than one year before the end of the current programming period, the
situation is critical. However, the ministry of Education says that it has taken all the necessary measures in
order to accelerate the implementation of the actions. In addition, the Greek authorities maintain that the take-
up rates will increase rapidly in the following months and all credits will be used in time.

2. and 3. The delay in the implementation of the actions could be attributed to various reasons, the most
important of which seem to be their delayed definition and start, the absence of appropriate implementing
agencies, their complexity and the heavy administrative procedures. The introduction of information
technologies to schools and the establishment of school libraries are implemented almost exclusively through
the OP ‘Education and initial training’. Therefore, any failure to use the Community credits in time would
necessarily mean a restriction of the actions (fewer schools equipped with information technology facilities,
fewer libraries) and non-attainment of the objectives initially set.

For further details, the Commission would refer the Honourable Member to the Greek ministry of Education.

(1999/C 207/234) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0027/99

by Marco Formentini (NI) to the Commission

(13 January 1999)

Subject: Increased charges introduced by TIM and OMNITEL for fixed-to-mobile telephone traffic

In light of the new charges introduced on 6 January 1999 by the two mobile telephone companies (TIM and
OMNITEL), which entail substantial increases (up to 153 %) for calls from fixed to mobile telephones, can the
Commission say:

@ whether it considers that the agreement between the two operators to introduce equivalent price rises was
drawn up in accordance with the rules on free competition on the market;

@ whether it does not consider that, by virtue of this agreement, a cartel has been set up to manage the
market, an unlawful practice as far as free competition is concerned and detrimental to the interests of the

@ whether the agreement could be seen as taking advantage of consumers’ good faith, since it was
implemented immediately after the Christmas holidays, when a large number of new mobile telephone
contracts were concluded, in particular ‘family’ contracts;
21.7.1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 207/169

@ whether it does not consider, in the light of this latest event, that the Italian economy is still dominated by
monopolies or, at best, duopolies, which end up acting much like rigid monopolies;

@ what steps it intends to take to safeguard free competition on the market and, above all, the interests of

(1999/C 207/235) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0036/99

by Gianfranco Dell’Alba (ARE) to the Commission

(20 January 1999)

Subject: Agreement between TIM and Omnitel on telephone charges

The Italian mobile telephone companies TIM and Omnitel have apparently come to an arrangement on
charges, which for certain categories of telephone call or subscription rates entails an increase of up to 150 %.
The increases concern in particular ‘family’ subscriptions, which were widely promoted in the run-up to
Christmas, and adversely affect the promised incentives. The increases, which affect calls from fixed to mobile
phones in particular, are blamed on decisions taken by the mobile telephony authorities.

Does the Commission not consider that the de facto agreement between TIM and Omnitel clearly infringes the
rules on competition laid down in the EEC Treaty, in particular Article 85 thereof, according to which ‘the
following shall be prohibited as incompatible with the common market: all agreements between
undertakings ... and concerted practices which ... have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or
distortion of competition within the common market, and in particular those which: (a) directly or indirectly
fix purchase or selling prices and any other trading conditions’?

Does it not consider that it should order the immediate suspension of the new arrangements and initiate
proceedings for infringement of Article 85 of the Treaty of Rome?

(1999/C 207/236) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0047/99

by Ernesto Caccavale (UPE) to the Commission

(15 January 1999)

Subject: Unlawful rise in the cost of calls between fixed and mobile telephones in Italy

In a move called ‘simplification of charges’ the two mobile telephone companies in Italy, Tim-Telecom and
Omnitel, have jointly decided to raise substantially the cost of calls made from ordinary to mobile telephones.
In some cases this rise can be as much as nearly 200 % and mainly affects calls made during the hours when
calls used to be cheapest, i.e. at night, and on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. They have established a
single rate valid every day and at all times of day, with VAT charged at 20 %, and two call units charged as soon
as the person called answers the phone.

Can the Commission therefore:

1. ascertain whether the rise in question is a blatant infringement of European competition law, in particular
Article 85 of the Treaty of Rome;

2. ascertain whether this across-the-board increase in the cost of calls made from fixed to mobile telephones,
in a context of the liberalisation of telecommunication services, may be the result of a classic cartel
between the two leading firms in the sector, disregarding the most elementary principles of free

3. say what steps it intends to take to safeguard the free market and users in particular, whose right to choose
between different rates is thus jeopardized and whether it does not consider, in particular, that there are
therefore valid grounds for bringing infringement proceedings?