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C 348/70 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 3.12.

1999

Answer given by Mr Santer on behalf of the Commission

(1 April 1999)

The obligation for American companies to declare their lobbying activities, including the amount they spend
on such activities, derives from the registration system which applies to all organisations lobbying US federal
bodies.

This registration system is not compatible with the Commission’s approach, which is based on openness to all
interest groups and guarantees them equal treatment while recommending that they apply a system of self-
regulation.

This being so, the Commission has no plans to adopt measures which would require a radical change of policy.

(1999/C 348/088) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0444/99


by José Valverde López (PPE) to the Commission

(4 March 1999)

Subject: Adjusting the definition of small and medium enterprises

The Commission has submitted a proposal for a directive adjusting the financial thresholds used in defining
small and medium enterprises in the context of European directives on accounting.

The proposal will allow the Member States to establish exceptions with regard to obligatory financial
information for a larger number of SMEs.

What social partners and associations of SMEs and artisans were contacted in the course of preparing this
proposal?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(8 April 1999)

The Fourth Council Directive 78/660/EC) of 25 July 1978 on the annual accounts of certain types of
companies (1) allows Member States to exempt small and medium-sized companies from certain requirements
of the Directive.

Small and medium-sized companies are defined for the purposes of the Directive by reference to three criteria,
i.e. balance sheet total, net turnover and average number of employees. The balance sheet total and net
turnover amounts are expressed in Euro. In accordance with Article 53(2) of the Directive every five years the
Council, acting on a proposal from the Commission, is to examine and, if need be, revise the amounts
expressed in Euro.

As the Directive stipulates that this five-yearly revision has to take place ‘in the light of economic and monetary
trends in the Community’ there is no need for special consultation of social partners and associations of small
and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The revision is of a purely technical nature and is based upon statistical
figures.

(1) OJ L 222, 14.8.1978.

(1999/C 348/089) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0450/99


by Giuseppe Rauti (NI) to the Commission

(5 March 1999)

Subject: Collapse of the ancient walls of Viterbo

Controversy has arisen in Viterbo over reconstruction of the ancient walls, two stretches of which, measuring
some dozens of metres, collapsed in January and March 1997.After so many months the reconstruction has
3.12.1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 348/71

practically not started, so that further damage has been caused (by the devastating effect of the bad weather,
infiltration of water etc.) to the monumental complex of the castle walls.

Viterbo, the ancient and noble ‘City of the Popes’ has one of the most extensive historical centres in the whole
of Europe:

1. Is it true that European Union funds have been allocated for reconstruction of the parts of the walls that
have collapsed and the long stretches that are still in danger of falling? If so, what amount was involved
and to which Italian body was it granted between January and December 1997?

2. During the same period were official steps taken by Italy on the subject, were requests for appropriations
received and, if so, from whom?

3. Does the Commission not think that, following on-the-spot assessment of the extent of the damage and
the vast scale of the cultural heritage in question, it should take autonomous and prompt initiatives,
including financial ones, to come to the rescue of a city whose splendid historical memory deserves to be
safeguarded and of one of the most important cultural sites of Europe and thus of the world?

Answer given by Mr Oreja on behalf of the Commission

(19 April 1999)

In view of the fact that the city of Viterbo is excluded from the zones admissible for financial support by the
structural funds, no financial support could have been given for the project mentioned by the Honourable
Member.

There was no financial support given for the historical walls of Viterbo in 1997 within the framework of the
Commission’s programme in favour of the preservation and enhancement of cultural heritage. No requests
were submitted by the local, regional or national authorities for the above mentioned project in the framework
of the Raphael programme for 1997. It should be noted that the themes dealt with by the Raphael programme
for that year were different from that of the project in question.

On the basis of Article 128 of the EC Treaty, the Commission’s action and programmes in the field of culture
and cultural heritage are based on the principle of subsidiarity and can only encourage cooperation between
the Member States, which are exclusively responsible for the protection and preservation of their heritage.

(1999/C 348/090) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0452/99

by Gianni Tamino (V) to the Commission

(5 March 1999)

Subject: Epidemic of swine vesicular disease

In the province of Mantua, Italy, there were three outbreaks of vesicular disease at the end of January that led to
the slaughter of some 10 000 pigs. Vesicular disease is a mild disease from a symptomatological point of view
and, apart from a high morbidity rate, runs its course in a few days with no particular consequences for the
animals affected apart from an occasional sloughing of hooves. Vesicular disease is caused by an enterovirus
and from a symptomatological point of view has a close affinity to foot-and-mouth disease whose impact on
the animals affected (also cattle) can be considerable. The flesh of the pigs struck down by vesicular disease is
used for zootechnical purposes.

In the light of the present state of affairs breeders tend not to report cases of vesicular disease because of the
drastic health measures in force. Contrary to what happened in the past, the diagnostic means now available
make it possible to distinguish the vesicular disease virus from the foot-and-mouth virus more quickly.