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2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 26 E/3

(2001/C 26 E/003) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2216/99
by Enrico Ferri (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(29 November 1999)

Subject: Application of the principle of the free movement of services (Article 49 of the EC Treaty) with
regard to the rules on the personal use of satellite dishes

The use of satellite dishes to receive television and radio programmes and information society services is
constantly on the increase.

They are an important cross-border vehicle for European economic and cultural integration, particularly
for those living abroad who wish to obtain information from their countries of origin in order to ensure
that their ties to their homeland remain strong.

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms enshrines the right
to impart and receive information.

Furthermore, the Commission has recently begun infringement proceedings against a Member State in
order to have it abolish a number of fiscal and administrative charges relating to the personal use of
satellite dishes.

Several Member States are also drawing up legislation on the use of such dishes.

Some general benchmarks should, however, be established; these must be sufficiently clear to reconcile the
principle of the free movement of services within the single market with the need to safeguard town-
planning objectives in order to minimise and control the impact of satellite dishes in aesthetic and
architectural terms, especially near towns or areas containing monuments of historic and artistic interest.

In the light of the above, would the Commission not consider it useful and indeed advisable to draw up
some guidelines (e.g. via explanatory documents based on previous texts of a similar kind) to clarify the
scope and effects of the fundamental principle of the free movement of services within the single market
(Article 49 of the EC Treaty) in relation to the regulation of the use of satellite dishes? This would not only
steer national legislators and local administrators in the right direction and facilitate their decisions whilst
ensuring compliance with Community law, but would also give individual users of satellite dishes, and
consequently all those operating in the field, greater legal certainty.

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(20 January 2000)

The Commission considers the question raised by the Honourable Member to be an important one in the
light of growing use of satellite dishes for the reception of eminently cross-border services such as
broadcasting services and information society services transmitted by satellite.

It is precisely with this in mind that the Commission has, over the last few years, initiated infringement
proceedings against certain Member States for tax and administrative barriers to the individual use of
satellite dishes.

These infringement proceedings, some of which are still under way, have targeted the obligation laid down
in some countries’ regulatory provisions  generally adopted at local level  to make the installation of
each dish subject to administrative authorisation or to payment of an annual tax, and a particularly high
one at that.

As it has already declared publicly (1), the Commission considers that, because of their discriminatory and,
in any event, disproportionate nature, these measures are incompatible with the fundamental principle of
free movement of services within the internal market, as laid down by Article 49 (former Article 59) of the
EC Treaty.
C 26 E/4 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 26.1.2001

However, it does recognise the possibility, as pointed out by the Honourable Member, that, in certain
circumstances, specific grounds of historical and artistic protection should also be taken into consideration
by the national authorities, while of course meeting the criteria of non-discrimination, necessity and
proportionality, in accordance with the Court of Justice’s consistent case law on the free movement of

In the light of these considerations and the keen interest shown by the public in these infringement
proceedings, the Commission will seriously consider the suggestion made by the Honourable Member that
a document be prepared in the near future to clarify, for the benefit of the interested parties
(users, operators and national authorities), the scope and effects of Article 49 with regard to the use of
satellite dishes.

It should also be noted that the Commission recently adopted a communication on the strategy for
Europe’s internal market which did in fact stress the outlook for the digital era and the promotion of
consumers’ economic interests (2).

(1) IP/99/281 of 3 May 1999.
(2) COM(1999) 624 final.

(2001/C 26 E/004) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2226/99
by Christopher Huhne (ELDR) to the Commission

(1 December 1999)

Subject: Internet access

What is the percentage of households in each Member State which have access to the Internet at the most
recent date, and what was the similar percentage one year, two years and three years previously? If it is
possible to indicate what proportion of households have access at home and what proportion through
their place of work, please do so.

(2001/C 26 E/005) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2229/99
by Christopher Huhne (ELDR) to the Commission

(1 December 1999)

Subject: Internet advertising trends

What is the amount spent on advertising on the Internet in each Member State, and what was spent one
year, two years, and three years before?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-2226/99 and E-2229/99 given
by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(19 January 2000)

There are no official consolidated Community figures available, either for styles of Internet access or for
Internet advertising revenues. This is due to the very dramatic growth in the level of Internet usage and to
the speed of change in the form of usage.

There are figures available from a variety of other sources which provide an idea of the growth and
geographical distribution of Internet usage. The different sources however often provide quite different
estimates even when referring to the same country. Even from the same source the figures may not indeed
even be comparable year to year because the methodologies are changed and as what is being monitored
continues to change constantly.