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C 26 E/44 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 26.1.

2001

the GAC decision last October, and with monitoring arrangements already in place. The Federal Republic
of Yugoslavia’s authorities held up the first convoy at the border for a fortnight; demonstrations ensued in
Nis and Pirot demanding the release of the oil. When the trucks eventually entered Nis they were greeted
by crowds cheering the European Union. The project has, however, been highly successful  reflected in
the decision of the GAC’s decision to extend it, which again the Commission did very rapidly indeed.

(2001/C 26 E/057) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0447/00
by María Sornosa Martínez (PSE) to the Commission

(24 February 2000)

Subject: Damage to the environment of the Peñiscola marshes (Valencia) caused by EU-funded projects

The Peñiscola marshes are currently being affected by building and drainage programmes linked to the
opening of the N-1 road, the reclamation of six kilometres of coastline, the building of a new promenade
and the construction of tourist accommodation and golf courses. All these planned projects are having a
direct impact on the environment of this wetland area which is of great importance to the species of flora
and fauna found there.

Environmental organisations have protested about this situation to the Community institutions without as
yet receiving any response to their complaints, which include the following:

 the Peñiscola marshes are the habitat of indigenous species of fish and birds (some of which are
included as protected species in the directive on the protection of birds) and should thus be declared a
zone of special interest by the Spanish authorities as part of the Nature 2000 network;

 the range of projects approved by the Spanish authorities have not been accompanied by an
environmental impact statement (since they were considered individually as minor works not affecting
the environment and it was not thought necessary to draw up a study of their total overall impact;

 85 % of the cost of the coastal reclamation project is being funded by the Community:

 the zone concerned continues to be classified as ‘eligible for development’, despite the various
statements by the authorities pledging to classify it as a protected wetland area.

In the light of the above considerations and bearing in mind that the Commission already has all the
relevant documentation on the matter provided by the organisations which lodged the complaint, does the
Commission not consider it contradictory that on the one hand Community legislation should seek to
protect a natural area inhabited by species included under the directive on birds, while on the other hand
Community funds are being used to carry out works which threaten the environment of this same area?

Will the Commission send a delegation to the marshes to determine whether the impact of these projects
is harmful to the environment as claimed by the environmental organisations?

Does it consider that the Spanish authorities may have infringed Community legislation by not requiring
the compulsory environmental impact assessment to be carried out for these projects, because it
considered them separately rather than as a whole?

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(7 April 2000)

Firstly, it should be noted that the ‘Marjal de Peñiscola’ area to which the Honourable Member refers has
not been classified by the Spanish authorities as a special protection area for birds under Article 4 of
Council Directive 79/409/EEC (1) of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds. Neither has it been
26.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 26 E/45

identified by the scientific community as an important area for birds in the inventory prepared for the
Commission in 1998 by national experts and Birdlife. Moreover, the Spanish authorities have not
identified it as a site of Community importance for inclusion in the Natura 2000 network under Council
Directive 92/43/EEC (2) of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and
flora.

However, the Commission has information on the presence of a priority species listed in Annex II to
Directive 92/43/EEC in this area. It hosts one of the four natural populations of Valencia hispanica. The
Commission has therefore asked the Spanish authorities to include the site in the national list referred to in
Article 4 of Directive 92/43/EEC. The Spanish authorities have undertaken to officially notify the inclusion
of the ‘Marjal de Peñiscola’ site shortly.

With regard to Council Directive 85/337/EEC (3) of 27 June 1985 on the assessment of certain public and
private projects on the environment, it should be noted that Article 2 thereof provides that projects likely
to have significant effects on the environment by virtue of their nature, size or location must be made
subject to an assessment with regard to their effects before authorisation is granted.

The Commission was informed of the projects to which the Honourable Member refers when investigating
a complaint and a petition from Parliament’s Committee on Petitions relating to the same problem.
It should be pointed out that the projects in question are of classes which are either not listed in the
Annexes to Directive 85/337/EEC or listed in Annex II. Under the terms of Article 4(2) projects of the
classes listed in Annex II must be made subject to an assessment where Member States consider that their
characteristics so require.

The Spanish authorities have undertaken to take the necessary measures to ensure that the projects will
not affect the ‘Marjal de Peñiscola’ site.

At all events, the Commission will continue to investigate the matter and, in its role as guardian of the
Treaties, will take the necessary measures to ensure that Community law is complied with.

(1) OJ L 103, 25.4.1979.
(2) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992.
(3) OJ L 175, 5.7.1985.

(2001/C 26 E/058) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0454/00
by Karin Jöns (PSE) to the Commission

(24 February 2000)

Subject: Austrian warnings concerning salted saithe products and smoked salmon under the rapid warning
system for foodstuffs (pursuant to Directive 92/59/EEC)

Since February 1998 the Austrian Federal Chancellery has been repeatedly warning against the consump-
tion of salted saithe products and smoked salmon inter alia from Germany. The rapid warning system is
triggered because Austrian food testing establishments judge qualitatively positive findings of Listeria
monocytogenes in 25 g samples harmful to health (pursuant to § 8 (a) of the 1975 Law on Foodstuffs). In
other Member States, for example France and Germany, such findings do not comprise sufficient grounds
for withdrawing the products in question from circulation. The warnings are disseminated throughout the
EU under the rapid information exchange system and cause substantial financial losses to the manufac-
turers concerned, who may be faced with the alternative of either avoiding the Austrian market or seeing
their reputation permanently damaged throughout the EU single market, even though it is only on the
basis of Austrian criteria that there is a supposed risk.

1. In the opinion of the Commission (to be precise, the competent expert advisory committee on
foodstuffs of animal origin, the former veterinary committee), what are the risks to health from Listeria
monocytogenes?