Official Journal of the European Communities

C 27 E/151

Does the Commission agree that this is a clear non-tariff barrier preventing the import of measuring instruments from other EU Member States? Will the forthcoming directive on metrology address this issue, thereby creating a true single market in measuring instruments? Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission (7 October 1999) Most measuring instruments intended for commercial transactions are subject to regulations in all of the Member States. The scope of the national regulations differs, but these could be justified for reasons of consumer protection and the maintenance of fair trading. There have been Community regulations intended to ensure the free movement of certain measuring instruments since the 1970s. However, as pointed out by the Honourable Member, the Commission is currently drafting a proposal for a Council and Parliament Directive that is intended to ensure the free movement of legal measuring instruments. That proposal is intended to amend Community law by taking account of technical progress and by adopting a new regulatory technique in the shape of the new approach to technical harmonisation and standardisation. Moreover, it is intended to harmonise the national laws concerning instruments that are not covered by the Community regulations in force. The Commission will contact the French authorities in order to obtain explanations concerning the office and warehouse required in France mentioned by the Honourable Member.

(2000/C 27 E/185)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-1619/99 by Gerhard Hager (NI) to the Commission (15 September 1999)

Subject: Regional support areas in the Member States: compatibility with Community objectives Recently there have been increasing reports to the effect that the regional support areas in the individual Member States do not correspond with Community objectives. Please indicate: 1. 2. 3. 4. What requirements are there in Community rules concerning individual Member States’ plans for support for certain regions? Can the Commission provide details of the European ‘support map’? On what basis are Member States’ details verified by the Union? What does the current Austrian ‘support map’ look like, and are there any doubts as to whether it conforms to EU directives on aid? Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission (27 October 1999) The Commission takes it that the Honourable Member is referring to the ‘regional aid map’ in conjunction with state aid rules. Reference is therefore made to point 5.1. of the guidelines on national regional aid (1) and the definition of the ‘regional aid map’. The criteria that a national area needs to fulfil in detail are listed in points 3 and 4 of the guidelines. Moreover, on the basis of the principle of the exceptional character of aid, the Commission informed all Member States in February 1998 and December 1998 (2) that 42,7 % of the Community population may live in regions eligible under Article 87(3)(a) and (c) (formerly Article 92) of the EC Treaty and calculated for each Member State the percentage of its population allowed to live in assisted areas. Within this

C 27 E/152

Official Journal of the European Communities



percentage, Member States choose their eligible regions according to points 3 and 4 of the guidelines. The statistics provided by the national authorities in this context are checked by the Commission on the basis of Eurostat data. It follows from the above that a ‘European map of eligible areas’ exists only in the sense that it is the sum of all national maps reflecting the eligible areas of the Member States. The current ‘regional aid map’ can be consulted by the Honourable Member on the home-page of the Directorate-General for Competition (http://europea.euint/comm/dg04/regaid/regaid_en.htm). The current ‘regional aid map’ for Austria is valid until 31 December 1999. The map which is going to replace it was notified to the Commission on 31 August 1999 and has received the state aid case number N 525/99. At the moment, the Commission is examining whether the ‘regional aid map’ is compatible with the common market. At the same time, Austria notified the Commission of a map showing the regions proposed for development under Objective 2 of the Structural Funds. The Commission is currently assessing the compatibility of this map with the Community rules, and in particular with Council Regulation (EC) 1260/1999 of 21 June 1999 laying down general provisions on the Structural Funds (3). It endeavours to ensure as much consistency as possible between the areas assisted by the Structural Funds and those receiving state aid with a regional objective.
(1) (2) (3) OJ C 74, 10.3.1998. OJ C 16, 21.1.1999. OJ L 161, 26.6.1999.

(2000/C 27 E/186)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-1621/99 by Raffaele Costa (PPE-DE) to the Commission (15 September 1999)

Subject: Excessive commission on exchanging lire for francs at Brussels Airport At 5.41 p.m. on 12 July 1999, an Italian citizen fresh from Italy went to the GOFFIN AIRPORT CHANGE office at Brussels Airport to change a small sum of money into Belgian francs so that he could take a taxi to go and visit a family living in Belgium. After the transaction, the person in question read the receipt (which is in my possession) and realised that he had been charged a commission of some 10 % (daylight robbery!). At the request of my compatriot, I went to check in person whether the GOFFIN AIRPORT CHANGE office displayed any notice of the commission charged. I found nothing at least at that particular moment to indicate that there was a compulsory charge of precisely 9,8 % of the sum to be exchanged. Whilst I understand and approve of the laws on the free market, I cannot condone the behaviour of an agency which: while inside an airport (public service) and therefore to a certain extent indispensable for people arriving in Brussels, not only fails to display its charges, but sets them at a level which is well beyond the market price, beyond all logic and which loan-sharks themselves would consider exorbitant; this is in breach of the Commission’s provisions. I therefore ask the Commission what measures it has taken or what measures it intends to take in this regard. Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission (12 October 1999) The Honourable Member will no doubt be aware that on 23 April 1998 the Commission issued Recommendation 98/286/EC concerning banking charges for conversion to the euro (1), which contains some important provisions on transparency. Article 3 provides that, for banknote exchanges of currencies

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