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C 374 E/134 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 28.12.

2000

(2000/C 374 E/158) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0687/00
by Michel Hansenne (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(9 March 2000)

Subject: Origin of goods  tariff preferences

When the Community, upon presentation of a certificate of origin (Form A) endorsed by the customs
authorities of the producer country, grants tariff preferences for the importation of products from certain
developing countries and it subsequently (after importation) emerges that the origin has not been
determined in accordance with Community rules, what penalties (without going into too much detail on
national laws) does the Community importer generally incur? Likewise, what penalty is imposed on the
customs officer who completes the customs formalities for such importations into the Community?

Furthermore, has the Commission organised over the past two years any training courses on Community
rules of origin in the following countries: Rwanda, Congo Brazzaville, Congo Kinshasa, Liberia, Algeria and
Indonesia?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(18 April 2000)

The sanction generally incurred by the importer in cases such as that referred to by the Honourable
Member is that he has to pay non-preferential customs duties even if he is unable to pass on the cost of
the duties to the persons to whom he has meanwhile sold the goods. The importer only escapes these
consequences when, under certain restricted conditions, his legitimate expectations are protected by Court
of Justice case law. This is not the case when a certificate of origin A has been issued on the basis of
incorrect declarations by the exporter. According to Court of Justice jurisprudence, a customs agent, by the
very nature of his functions, undertakes liability for the correctness of the documents that he presents to
the customs authorities.

Over the last two years, the Commission has organised a number of training seminars on rules of
preferential origin under the Lomé Convention. The seminars are organised by region among the African,
Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP). In July 1998 two seminars were organised for West Africa, in Côte
d’Ivoire (Participants: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal and
Togo) and in Ghana (Participants: Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone). In March 1999 a
seminar was organised for Central Africa in Cameroon (Participants: Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, Congo-
Brazaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Rwanda, Central African Republic and São Tomé).

(2000/C 374 E/159) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0688/00
by Robert Goebbels (PSE) to the Council

(13 March 2000)

Subject: Possible amendment of Article 105(6) of the EC Treaty

Article 105(6) of the EC Treaty stipulates that the Council may confer upon the ECB specific tasks
concerning policies relating to the prudential supervision of credit institutions and other financial
institutions ‘with the exception of insurance undertakings’.

However, the large European market in financial services being established calls for global prudential
supervision, particularly following the countless mergers or acquisitions, not to mention the acquisition of
cross holdings, among banks, insurance undertakings, investment funds and other professionals in the
financial sector. Several EU Member States have already introduced single national prudential supervision
for the financial sector as a whole, including insurance undertakings, or are in the process of doing so.

Would it not be wise to take the opportunity offered by the intergovernmental conference to propose that
Article 105(6) be amended so as to provide the legal basis necessary to enable the Council to confer upon
the ECB certain specific tasks, including those relating to prudential supervision of insurance undertakings?
28.12.2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 374 E/135

Reply
(18 May 2000)

The Council would remind the Honourable Member that, in accordance with Article 48 (former Article N)
of the Treaty on European Union, it is for the participants in the Intergovernmental Conference, that is to
say the representatives of the Governments of the Member States, to adopt by common accord the
amendments to be made to the those Treaties. In the case of institutional amendments in the monetary
area, the Council of the European Central Bank is also consulted.

(2000/C 374 E/160) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0690/00
by Antonio Di Pietro (ELDR) to the Commission
(9 March 2000)

Subject: Establishment of a safe-driving centre in the Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg

The principle of freedom of establishment, sanctioned in Article 43 of the EC Treaty, which bans all
restrictions on the freedom of a citizen of one Member States to set up business in the territory of another,
is one of the cornerstones of the European Union.

On the basis of this right there can be no restrictions on the opening of agencies, branches or subsidiaries
by citizens of one Member State in the territory of another Member State. Consequently, they can set up
and manage businesses and companies under the conditions laid down by the legislation of the country of
establishment for its own citizens.

Is Luxembourg entitled to deny the principle of freedom of establishment to a Union citizen of non-
Luxembourg nationality, on the basis that the business which he wants to set up would allegedly not be
economically viable? Is the Commission aware that this has happened to an Italian national who, on the
basis of the Ministry of Transport’s regulation of 19 June 1995, wanted to set up a safe-driving centre in
the Grand Duchy and was refused permission on the grounds that ‘on the basis of economic assessments a
single centre amply caters for the country’s needs’?

Does this discretionary refusal not, in effect, distort the rules of free competition and the market, to the
detriment of Luxembourg citizens’ freedom of choice?

Is the Commission also aware that the Luxembourg Ministry of Transport issued a second regulation on
8 May 1999, revising the earlier regulation of 19 June 1995, also dealing with the establishment of a safe-
driving centre on Luxembourg territory, but laying down new technical criteria, which in effect maintain a
monopoly for the only existing safe-driving centre on Luxembourg territory, belonging to Goodyear and
situated at Colmar-Berg?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission
(17 April 2000)

As the Honourable Member points out, the principle of freedom of establishment, sanctioned by Article 43
(ex Article 52) of the EC Treaty, may be exercised by natural or legal persons. In the case of legal persons,
therefore, it is permitted to open agencies, branches or subsidiaries in Member States other than that in
which the principal place of business is based.

However, the Commission would like to clarify that restrictions to exercising this freedom may never-
theless be recognised as being compatible with the principle of Article 43 of the EC Treaty if they are
justified by an overriding reason relating to the public interest and if they are not disproportionate to the
objective being pursued. Such reasons may not include interests of an economic nature.

The specific situation mentioned by the Honourable Member has been brought to the Commission’s
attention and, according to the information it has been given, it seems that the decision taken by the
Luxembourg authorities to deny permission for economic reasons is not compatible with the principle
sanctioned by Article 43 of the EC Treaty. This decision, based on a regulation which was no longer in