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2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 203 E/121

(2000/C 203 E/153) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2035/99

by Glyn Ford (PSE) to the Commission

(3 November 1999)

Subject: Tax on engagement rings

I have had a complaint from a constituent who is a British subject living in Australia. He sent his fiancée,
in Portugal, an engagement ring declaring the content and value on the packet and paying all Australian
taxes. Upon receipt in Portugal the ring was taxed at 17 %. Can the Commission confirm whether an
engagement ring is a taxable item?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(7 December 1999)

Small presents which are sent from a private person living in a third country to another private person
living in the Community can only be imported free of import duties and taxes if they do not exceed a
value of € 45 (1). Since the value of the engagement ring seemed to have exceeded this limit, the
Portuguese authorities had the right to apply the import taxes to the whole value of the imported ring.

(1) Article 29 of Council Regulation (EEC) No 918/83 of 28 March 1983 setting up a Community system of reliefs
from customs duty (OJ L 105, 23.4.1983) as modified by Council Regulation (EEC) No 1315/88 of 3 May 1988
amending Regulation (EEC) No 2658/87 on the tariff and statistical nomenclature and on the Common Customs
Tariff and Regulation (EEC) No 918/83 (OJ L 123, 17.5.1988); and Article 14(1d) of Sixth Council Directive 77/
388/EEC of 17 May 1977 on the harmonisation of the laws of the Member States relating to turnover taxes 
Common system of value added tax uniform basis of assessment (OJ L 145, 13.6.1977); Article 1 of Council
Directive 85/576/EEC of 20 December 1985 amending Directive 78/1035/EEC on the exemption from taxes of
imports of small consignments of goods of a non-commercial character from third countries (OJ L 372,
31.12.1985), and Article 1 of Council Directive 78/1035/EEC of 19 December 1978 on the exemption from
taxes of imports of small consignments of goods of a non-commercial character from third countries (OJ L 366,

(2000/C 203 E/154) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2042/99

by Lennart Sacrédeus (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(3 November 1999)

Subject: Killing of cows in Sweden

On 7 October, six healthy cows were killed in Ljungskile, southern Sweden, because their owner had not
marked them in accordance with the EU rules that have been in force since 1 January 1998. The cows
were shot in a meadow and then taken to a destruction facility. The Swedish National Board of Agriculture
takes the view that, under the EU rules, unmarked animals must be killed on the spot and that it is not
possible to move them even to a slaughterhouse. Nor can any exceptions be made. Is it the Commission’s
intention that the rules should be interpreted in this way?

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(16 December 1999)

The Commission does not have any specific information relating to the particular case mentioned by the
Honourable Member. Generally, however, it is important to recall the rules which apply in this matter, as
provided by Commission Regulation (EC) No 494/98 of 27 February 1998 laying down detailed rules for
C 203 E/122 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 18.7.2000

the implementation of Council Regulation (EC) No 820/97 as regards the application of minimum
administrative sanctions in the framework of the system for the identification and registration of bovine
animals (1). Article 1 provides that ‘If one or more animals on a holding comply with none of the
provisions laid down in Article 3 of Regulation (EC) No 820/97, a restriction shall be imposed on
movement of all animals to and from that holding. If the keeper of an animal cannot prove its
identification within two working days, it shall be destroyed without delay under the supervision of the
veterinary authorities, and without compensation from the competent authority.’

This applies to bovine animals which do not have any of the elements provided for in the identification
system (eartags, entry in the computerised database, passport, record in the individual register to be kept
on each holding). In this exceptionally serious case, following expiry of the given period, slaughter is
justified particularly in the light of infringements committed which may constitute a risk to human and
animal health.

This Community legislation (Regulation (EC) No 494/98) was adopted in the form of a regulation. An act
of this type is binding in its entirety and is not compatible with a more ‘flexible’ national law.

Moreover, the Commission has not received a request from the Swedish authorities to amend the rules
which apply in this area.

(1) OJ L 60, 28.2.1998.

(2000/C 203 E/155) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2044/99

by Jeffrey Titford (EDD) to the Commission

(3 November 1999)

Subject: Number of staff employed by Commission

Can the Commission indicate how many full-time and part-time staff are employed by it:

 in Brussels?

 in or near Strasbourg?

 elsewhere?

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(7 December 1999)

On 1 November 1999, the Commission employed in Brussels 12 055 full time officials and 687 part time
officials, 1 490 temporary agents and 33 part time temporary agents (totalling 13 545 full time and
720 part time).

In Strasbourg the Commission employed 1 full time official, responsible for the logistics of meetings of the
Commission at Strasbourg during the Parliament sessions. The Commission does not employ anybody
‘near Strasbourg’.

In Luxembourg the Commission employed 2 477 full time officials and 235 part time officials, 105 tem-
porary agents and 4 part time temporary agents (totalling 2 582 full time and 239 part time).

Elsewhere the Commission employed 1 799 full time officials and 23 part time officials, 1 100 full time
temporary agents and 14 part time temporary agents (totalling 2 899 full time and 39 part time).