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C 219 E/28 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 1.8.

2000

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(30 November 1999)

In its reply to written question E-850/98 (1), the Commission confirmed the position it had expressed
during the discussions at the session of 27 May 1998 on Ms Van Lancker’s draft report on frontier
workers, which was that when problems arose, the most appropriate response appeared to be to foster
cross-border cooperation between the parties involved. It had also pointed out on this occasion that, under
Article 226 (ex Article 169) of the EC Treaty, it had powers to ensure that Member States’ legislation was
compatible with Community law, and more specifically with the rules governing the freedom of move-
ment.

In this question, the Honourable Member refers not just to the problems encountered by frontier workers,
but also to those experienced by businesses and local authorities.

The Commission would be grateful if, for fields other than the free movement of workers, the Honourable
Member could clearly describe, or give specific examples of, the ‘adverse impact’ felt in border regions
following the adoption of national legislation, which is mentioned in her question.

(1) OJ C 27 E, 29.1.2000, p. 2.

(2000/C 219 E/035) WRITTEN QUESTION P-1805/99


by Ilda Figueiredo (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(1 October 1999)

Subject: Threat of job losses at Siemens Group factories in Portugal

The Siemens Group is threatening a major cut-back in production and employment at its factories in
Portugal and is preparing to transfer part of its operations to other countries.

For example, at Indelma (Indústrias Electrodomésticas SA), which is based in Casal do Marco (Seixal
district), the company’s governing body has already announced that all production of cables for Renault
cars will be transferred to Lithuania, with the loss of 700 jobs.

According to trade union sources, Siemens has ended telecommunications equipment production at its
factory in Corroios and has switched orders to Germany, with the consequent loss of 80 jobs.

A similar state of affairs is in evidence at the company’s factories in Evora and Sabugo (Sintra district).

The fact of the matter is that the companies within the Siemens Group, including Indelma, are profitable
and have in the past received over one billion escudos’ worth of aid and subsidies from various sources,
including Community funds.

Would the Commission answer the following questions:

1. Were the Siemens Group companies in Portugal granted Community funds? If so, what amounts were
involved and under which programmes were they made available?

2. If Siemens continues to relocate its operations outside Portugal (thereby causing job losses), will it be
required to return the Community funds it has received?

3. What other action does the Commission intend to take in response to this state of affairs?

Answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission

(28 October 1999)

Firms belonging to the Siemens group in Portugal have received payments from the structural funds of
€ 43 million up until 4 October 1999 for projects approved in the course of the present Community
support framework 1994-1999 in the industry programme PEDIP II. These payments are based on
commitments of € 77 million; the final amount for payments will only be known when all projects have
1.8.2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 219 E/29

been concluded. The commitments correspond to investments of € 559 million. The grants are made in
conformity with contracts concluded between the investor and the Portuguese authorities. The European
regional development fund (ERDF) and European social fund (ESF) pay 75 % of the public expenditure
financing the aid schemes providing the grants.

According to the Portuguese authorities, they have no knowledge at this stage of any collective
redundancies or relocations linked to the projects carried out by Siemens.

If an enterprise were not to respect the terms of a grant contract concluded with the Portuguese
authorities, it would be for these latter to take the legal action referred to in the contract, including, if
necessary, measures to ensure a refund of the relevant part of the grant.

In the next programming period, Article 30 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1260 of 21 June 1999 laying
down general provisions of the structural funds (1), provides that the Member States shall ensure that an
operation retains the contribution from the funds only if that operation does not, within five years of the
date of the decision of the national authorities or the managing authority on the contribution of the funds,
undergo a substantial modification resulting notably from a cessation or change in location of a productive
activity.

In the guidelines issued earlier this year for the next programming period, there is a statement of principle
that the structural funds should not be used for the mere relocation of existing activities.

(1) OJ L 161, 26.6.1999.

(2000/C 219 E/036) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1807/99

by Paul Rübig (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(12 October 1999)

Subject: CE mark

The CE mark is a requirement for the free movement of goods within the EU. From the start it was
intended only as a ‘European passport’ for European products. The greatest reservations concerning the
original Commission proposal related to the fact that the CE mark might be seen by consumers as an
indication of quality. Such considerations were raised in the report by the relevant European Parliament
committee on the Council decision concerning modules and the CE conformity marking (93/465/EEC). In
its resolution of 12 February 1999 the European Parliament ‘advocates a graduated scheme of European
conformity symbols that, in addition to the ‘CE’ symbol, will also provide for voluntary private or statutory
conformity symbols’.

In section 14 of his answers to the European Parliament’s questionnaire the future Commissioner
Erkki Liikanen likewise states that ‘greater recourse to European standardisation, certification and accred-
itation are important elements for increasing transparency and confidence in the markets by regulatory and
voluntary means’.

Despite these pronouncements, uncertainty still pervades the business world as a result of changes made
by the Commission or so-called translation errors.

1. What specific measures and changes has the Commission in mind as regards the directives or other
texts relating to the EC mark and will it in future comply with the European Parliament’s wish that
voluntary and widely recognised private quality marks should be accepted in addition to the CE mark?

2. In the opinion of a business-friendly Directorate-General for Industry, should any restriction or even
a ban on private marks additional to the CE mark not be excluded since such a ban could scarcely be
imposed on competitors from third countries (for example, U1 marks from the USA) and would therefore
significantly distort competition?