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C 374 E/190 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 28.12.


On 17 December 1999, a complaint was referred to the Commission (COMP/37.7.754) contesting this
law, which clearly has a bearing on freedom of establishment (Article 43 of the EC Treaty).

In 1987, following an appeal by the Commission, the Court of Justice ruled that the law was compatible
with freedom of establishment as it was not deemed to be discriminatory. No attempt was made, however,
to check that the law complied with the proportionality principle. (Judgment of 12 February 1987, Case
221/85, Commission v Belgium, ECR 1987, p. 719).

Nevertheless, as of 1995 (Judgment of 30 November 1995, Case C-55/94, Gebhard, ECR 1995, p. I-4186),
the Court deems that any national measure  even where applicable to EU residents without distinction,
as is the Belgian law in question  that is ‘liable to hinder or make less attractive’ the exercise of, or access
to, a profession by a national of another Member State, may be incompatible with Article 43 of the
EC Treaty unless justified by compelling reasons of general interest and duly proportional.

In this context, how does the Commission intend to apply this new case law, which acknowledges the
validity of the argument espoused by the institution up to eight years ago? Will the Commission now
ascertain the proportionality of the provisions in question  which the Court refused to do in 1987  in
view of the fact that the rules on operating clinical biology laboratories in the various EU Member States
are still so divergent?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission
(10 May 2000)

As pointed out by the Honourable Member, there have been changes in the Court of Justice case law on
the freedom of establishment.

Furthermore, there are a number of new elements in the appeal mentioned which were not present in the
appeal which led to the Court judgment of 12 February 1987. The Commission is therefore carrying out a
detailed examination of the Belgian legislation on medical analysis laboratories.

(2000/C 374 E/223) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0946/00
by Alexandros Alavanos (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(29 March 2000)

Subject: Restitution of stolen or illegally exported cultural artefacts

A new convention on the restitution of stolen cultural artefacts is being promoted in the United Nations
calling for negotiations to be held in such cases between the parties concerned.

1. Has the Commission expressed its support for the convention in question?

2. Has it proposed that the Member States sign this convention?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission
(12 May 2000)

As far as the Commission is aware, there are no proposals emanating from the United Nations for the
adoption of a new convention on the return of stolen cultural artefacts, this issue having already been the
subject of the 1995 Unidroit Convention on the international return of stolen or illegally exported cultural
objects. The Commission took part in the work on drafting this Convention as an observer.

The Commission shares the general aim of combating illicit trade in cultural objects, which was the driving
force behind the Unidroit Convention, but given the Community’s responsibilities in this field as
Community law stands at present, it has not yet registered its support for the Convention by proposing
that the Member States sign it.
28.12.2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 374 E/191

The Commission would like to point out that for the European Economic Area (EEA), Directive 96/100/EC
of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 February 1997 amending the Annex to Directive
93/7/EEC on the return of cultural objects unlawfully removed from the territory of a Member State (1) lays
down arrangements and a procedure, to be applied among the States which are party to the EEA
Agreement, for the return of cultural objects which have been unlawfully removed from the territory of
one of these States. This Directive is an accompanying measure to the process of completing the internal
market, as its purpose is to supplement border controls in providing the means of affording suitable
protection to cultural objects.

Community regulations have been taken into account by the Unidroit Convention, Article 13 of which
stipulates that ‘in their relations with each other, Contracting States which are members of organisations of
economic integration or regional bodies may declare that they will apply the internal rules of these
organisations or bodies and will not therefore apply as between these States the provisions of this
Convention the scope of application of which coincides with that of those rules’.

A declaration of this type has been made by two of the five Member States which have signed the
Convention: the Netherlands, which did so upon signing the Convention, and Finland, which has already
ratified the Convention, when its deposited its instrument of ratification. The other Member States which
have signed the Convention to date are France, Portugal and Italy. Italy has already deposited its instrument
of ratification and thus become party to the Convention.

(1) OJ L 60, 1.3.1997.

(2000/C 374 E/224) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0950/00
by Per Stenmarck (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(29 March 2000)

Subject: Trans-European networks

The European Council meeting in Essen in 1994 adopted a number of priority TEN projects. One of those
fourteen projects was the development of the ‘Nordic triangle’, an important project for infrastructure in
the Nordic region. In its progress report on these TEN projects, the Commission notes that Sweden is not
fulfilling its commitments, which is affecting the necessary expansion of capacity on the E6 and E4, not to
mention the Malmö-Trelleborg stretch of the E6, which is so important for the country’s imports and
exports. What does the Commission intend to do in response to Sweden’s failure to act and the delay in
complying with these commitments which are such important infrastructure projects for Sweden and for

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(28 April 2000)

In 1998 and 1999 the Commission published two follow-up reports (1) concerning the progress and status
of the 14 specific projects identified at the Essen European Council in December 1994. In both reports it is
stated that three projects are near completion, six others will be finalised around 2005 and five will be
finalised significantly beyond 2005.

The project called the Nordic Triangle, which contains the sections of the E4 and E6 mentioned by the
Honourable Member, is among the five projects in the last group. The special nature of the Nordic
Triangle, which is a multi-modal corridor with a large number of sub-projects, makes it very difficult to
establish a firm overall timetable and financing plan. Negotiations on this issue are taking place between
the Commission and the Finnish and Swedish authorities.

The implementation of transport infrastructure projects falls primarily under the responsibility of the
Member States and the regional and local bodies following the principle of subsidiarity. The Commission
cannot therefore require the Member States to implement any particular infrastructure project. However,
the Commission can encourage the Member States to implement a project by offering financial support or