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28.12.

2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 374 E/181

(2000/C 374 E/213) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0898/00
by Umberto Bossi (TDI) to the Commission

(16 March 2000)

Subject: Suppliers of services to Community institutions

In the context of the new commitments concerning transparency in the work of the Community
institutions (also sanctioned by the recent publication of the Commission’s White Paper on reform) the
European Parliament’s Internet website provides information on public contracts for services awarded by
Parliament and other Community bodies.

Those interested can also use this website to subscribe to an update notification system. This service is
managed by the American private company Netmind, whose site is automatically accessed during the
subscription process.

Can the Commission therefore say:

1. Whether the American company was chosen by the Community institutions and, if not, what
selection procedures were used?

2. Whether the Community institutions have access to the personal data recorded when a user registers,
whether it is the property of the American company or of the institutions and what use is made of the
data?

3. Why one of the institutions opted for a service offered by an American private company, in view of
the fact that other information servers in the European Union offer exactly the same service, but using
Community IT structures?

4. In view of the fact that the American company’s service which Parliament is using is still in a beta
version, whether it considers that this offers sufficient guarantees as regards efficiency, accessibility,
performance and, above all, confidentiality?

5. Whether this choice should not be considered questionable, not least in view of the recent hearing on
the Echelon network?

Answer given by Mr Prodi on behalf of the Commission

(17 April 2000)

The content of the website to which the Honourable Member refers is managed directly and exclusively by
the Parliament. It is thus to the Parliament that the Honourable Member should address his request for
information.

(2000/C 374 E/214) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0901/00
by Robert Evans (PSE) to the Commission

(21 March 2000)

Subject: Tour Managers and Tour Guides

I understand that the European Commission has had some involvement in this issue in the past and is well
aware of the difficulties Tour Managers experience in attempting to exercise their right to work in other
EU countries.

London members of the International Association of Tour Managers have contacted me. Whilst recognis-
ing the clear difference of the qualification Tour Guide, in being able to guide in ‘historic monuments’ and
museums, they feel that both the stretching of this definition and excessive demands for qualification as a
Tour Guide (in some places including residence), are unreasonable restrictions.
C 374 E/182 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 28.12.2000

Instances of Tour Managers being fined for walking groups from a coach to their restaurant have been
cited as not uncommon.

Does the Commission intend to take any further action in this regard to clear up this confusion and end
these restrictions?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(13 April 2000)

The matter of the difficulties faced by tour managers in the exercise of their profession abroad has been
raised with the Commission by the relevant professional organisations such as the European Tour
Operators Association (ETOA), the European Travel & Tourism Action Group (ETAG) and the Interna-
tional Road Transport Union (IRU). On this matter in general the Commission would refer the Honourable
Member to the answers given by the Commission to Written Questions E-2615/96 by Mr Kellett-
Bowman (1) and E-797/98 by Ms Daskalaki (2). The Commission’s working paper on tourist guides, which
was adopted in 1997, provides all relevant details on the applicable Community legislation (3).

The Honourable Member indicates that two restrictions are regarded as unreasonable by the International
Association of Tour Managers: the interpretation of the definition ‘historic monuments and museums’ and
the excessive demands for tourist guide qualifications.

On the first point, the Commission observes that in its judgements on tourist guides (judgements of
26.2.1991, Case C-154/89 France [1991] ECR I-659, C-180/89 Italy [1991] ECR I- 709 and C-198/89
Greece [1991] ECR I-727), the Court of justice clearly ruled that making the provision of services of
tourist guides subject to the possession of a professional licence infringes the freedom to provide services,
where those services consist in guiding tourists in places other than ‘museums or historical monuments
which may be visited only with a specialised professional guide’. Therefore, the provision of services by
tourist guides coming from other Member States is limited by this exception. As to the type of museums
and historical monuments which are subject to specific national rules, tourist guides must comply with
national legislation. The Commission has carefully analysed the legislation adopted by the Member States
to comply with these judgements and found it compatible with Community law in the light of the
principles of subsidiarity and proportionality. The Commission considers that in the absence of detailed
criteria of interpretation laid down by the Court the exception for ‘museums or historical monuments
which may be visited only with a specialised professional guide’ can be interpreted in the light of the
principle of proportionality.

According to this principle, national laws that restrict the freedoms established by the EC Treaty must be
proportionate to the goals pursued. The Court ruled that the aim of this exception is to protect the general
interest in ‘the proper appreciation of places and things of historical interest’ and to ensure ‘the widest
dissemination of knowledge of the artistic and cultural heritage’ of a Member State (see judgement of
26 February 1991 in Case C-154/89, paragraph 21). Therefore, the proportionality of the legislation
adopted by each Member State in order to comply with the ‘tourist guides’ judgments should be assessed,
for every site or every category of sites included in the exception, against the requirement of a specialised
professional guide to protect ‘the proper appreciation of places and things of historical interest’ and to
ensure ‘the widest possible dissemination of knowledge of the artistic and cultural heritage’. Such an
appraisal lies primarily with the Member State concerned as it is the national authorities which are best
placed to assess local historical, cultural and artistic interests. The Commission considers that too broad an
interpretation of this exception, covering practically all the museums and historic monuments could be in
contradiction with the Court’s judgements.

On the second point, in the absence of harmonisation of the training and other conditions of access to a
profession, each Member State remains free to regulate professions within their territory and to establish
the level of qualifications required for their exercise. When Member States regulate the profession of tourist
guide Council Directive 89/48/EEC of 21 December 1988 on a general system for the recognition of
higher-education diplomas awarded on completion of professional education and training of at least three
years’ duration (4) and Council Directive 92/51/EEC of 18 June 1992 on a second general system for the
recognition of professional education and training to supplement Directive 89/48/EEC (5) apply. To the
Commission’s knowledge, the condition of residency is not required in any Member State in order to
obtain recognition of the qualification as tourist guide. The Commission has never received any complaint
concerning a refusal by a Member State to recognise a tourist guide qualification or concerning any
28.12.2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 374 E/183

particular difficulty regarding recognition procedures in this area. Interested parties are invited to make
known the existence of such requirements to the Commission.

As regards the imposition of fines on tour managers, the problem appears to be due mainly to a confusion
between the profession of tour manager and that of tourist guide. According to the principle of
subsidiarity, the responsibility for the definition of the scope of these two professions lies with the
Member States. The facts brought so far to the Commission’s attention in this connection do not indicate a
practice that could constitute an infringement of the EC Treaty. The Commission would in any case
remind the Honourable Member that Article 49 (ex Article 59) of the EC Treaty (freedom to provide
services) can have direct effect and confers rights on individuals that national authorities must respect.
Interested parties can therefore best protect their rights by applying to the national courts for the
annulment of such fines under its provisions.

(1) OJ C 72, 7.3.1997.
(2) OJ C 323, 23.10.1998.
(3) SEC(97) 837 final.
(4) OJ L 19, 24.1.1989.
(5) OJ L 209, 24.7.1992.

(2000/C 374 E/215) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0902/00
by Efstratios Korakas (GUE/NGL) to the Council

(20 March 2000)

Subject: Reform of the system of aid for cotton

Under Article 6 of Regulation (EEC) No 1553/95 (1), before the start of the 1999/2000 marketing year the
Commission is required to present a report on the operation of the system of aid for cotton and to submit
a reform proposal only if the report shows it to be necessary. However, the Commission has submitted a
reform proposal directly. In its explanatory memorandum, the Commission acknowledges that ‘this
requirement [to draw up a report on the operation of the system as set out in paragraph 11 of Protocol
4 annexed to the Act of Accession of Greece] was partly anticipated … by the Report from the
Commission to the Council on Greek requests in the cotton sector (COM(98) 10 final)’.

The Commission has failed to honour its obligations and, moreover, has put forward arguments in the
explanatory memorandum to its reform proposal which, in the absence of a thorough analysis, paint a
distorted picture of the operation of the sector. The cost of the cotton scheme depends largely on the price
of cotton on the world market. The Commission contends that ‘expenditure could exceed EUR 900 million’.
It chose to submit its proposal at a time when world prices were at their lowest since the previous reform
of the cotton scheme. Furthermore, the world cotton price has risen by 48 % since the date of adoption of
the Commission proposal barely three months ago. In fewer than three months the reform proposal has
become outdated and irrelevant.

As a result, the institutions required to adopt a position on the Commission proposal have three problems
to contend with: the Commission’s failure to honour its obligations, the lack of a reliable analysis, and the
use of economic arguments which could prove misleading. Will the Council demand that the Commission
honours its undertakings under Regulation (EEC) No 1553/95? Will it ask the Commission to submit a
new, updated proposal which takes account of the report on the operation of the system of aid for cotton?

(1) OJ L 148, 30.6.1995, p. 45.

Reply

(25 May 2000)

After submitting its report on Greek requests regarding the cotton sector to the Council in February 1998,
and in accordance with the invitation addressed to it by the Council in June 1998, the Commission
submitted to the latter in December 1999 two proposals for reform of the system of aid for cotton.