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2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 26 E/57

Member States take all necessary steps that devices may be placed on the market and put into service only
if they do not compromise the safety and health of patients and users. They shall use the ‘safeguard clause’
whenever the health or safety of patients and users are put at risk. Under this clause, measures can be
taken to withdraw such devices from the market or prohibit or restrict their being placed on the market or
put into service.

Finally the Directive states that Member States shall not create any obstacle to the placing on the market or
the putting into service within their territory of devices bearing the CE marking.

(2001/C 26 E/071) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0524/00
by Giovanni Pittella (PSE), Joan Colom i Naval (PSE), Paulo Casaca (PSE),
Vincenzo Lavarra (PSE) and Georges Garot (PSE) to the Commission

(28 February 2000)

Subject: Protecting European nut production

The close of 1999 marked the end of the scheduled transitional period between the old rules governing
nuts (Regulations (EEC) No 2159/89 (1) and (EEC) No 790/89 (2)) expiring and the entry into force of the
general reform of the fruit and vegetables sector (Article 55 of Regulation (EC) No 2200/96 (3)), which
involves the inclusion of nuts (i.e almonds, hazelnuts, sweet chestnuts and walnuts) in the new COM.

So the new regulation puts an end to the special support measures which, however limited (with flat-rate
aid provided for hazelnuts only), demonstrated the Community’s interest in a sector which is not only
significant in terms of output, but also plays an irreplaceable role in terms of maintaining agricultural and
environmental balance and conserving the landscape in many regions of the EU. Failure to take this factor
into account in recent years has led to a number of natural disasters in Europe. Moreover, these measures
were a useful means of offsetting the difficulties encountered by farms producing nuts, either as their
principal crop or as a sideline, because of the marginal nature of the land. Finally, the sector is overlooked
in the course of negotiations on free trade agreements with third countries. Consequently nut production is
being gradually abandoned, even though demand remains stable, thus exacerbating Europe’s balance of
trade deficit in these products.

What action does the Commission intend to take in connection with the new rules to ensure proper
recognition of this sector, which mainly concerns regions whose development is lagging behind? Does the
Commission agree that it is necessary to review the level of financial support and the nature of the aid
provided to that sector, while coordinating the various organisational strategies of the new COM with the
measures required to maintain precarious social and economic structures and preserve traditional
agricultural and environmental features in fragile rural areas?

Could the Commission consider the possibility of maintaining flat-rate aid for hazelnuts for a set period
and introducing measures to provide support per hectare, with such aid being differentiated according to
the main crops and conditional on the adoption of binding land use safeguards in the context of the new
rules on rural development?

(1) OJ L 207, 19.7.1989, p. 19.
(2) OJ L 85, 30.3.1989, p. 6.
(3) OJ L 297, 21.11.1996, p. 1.

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(24 March 2000)

The Commission is well aware of the difficulties that have, in the past, beset the nut sector, including the
structural deficiencies leading to low productivity and high costs. It was in direct recognition of these
difficulties that financial support was granted to the sector under the provisions of Title IIa of Regulation
(EEC) No 1035/72 of the Council of 18 May 1972 on the common organisation of the market in fruit and
C 26 E/58 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 26.1.2001

vegetables (specific measures for nuts and locust beans). A number of important measures were made
available to producers of almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pistachios or locust beans marketing their produce
through a recognised producer organisation. The most significant measure has been the quality and
marketing improvement plan, yielding Community financing over a maximum period of 10 years per

This scheme represents a very significant financial commitment on behalf of the Community, considering
the specific nature of the nut sector. From 1990 to 1999, total Community expenditure (excluding
promotion) was € 725 million. Expenditure will continue until the expiry of the last plans in 2006.

These improvement plans have met with considerable success, in terms of regrouping supply, providing
income support for farmers and structural improvements.

However, it has always been stipulated that the aid for improvement plans should be temporary and
degressive, in order to allow a progressive shift of financial responsibility on to the producers. To continue
with a per-hectare aid would undermine such efforts made in the last 10 years. The same philosophy
applies to the flat rate aid for hazelnuts, introduced in 1997 to help hazelnut producers face up to
temporarily difficult economic conditions. Those producer organisations that have benefited for over 10
years from measures such as the improvement plans should have built up sufficient competitiveness to
survive as successful operations. In addition they can continue to benefit from financing under the
operational funds introduced by Council Regulation (EC) No 2200/96 of 28 October 1996 on the
common organisation of the market in fruit and vegetables (1).

Based on these considerations, from a market point of view there is no justification for the granting of a
per-hectare aid for the nut sector or the continuation of the flat-rate aid for hazelnuts.

However, the Commission would be in favour of measures which supported the social and environmental
aspects of nut production. This would contribute to maintaining rural employment and maintaining
plantations in less-favoured areas and on marginal land, in particular in areas where there is a real risk of
erosion. Support for this type of measure would be best carried out in the framework of the rural
development schemes.

(1) OJ L 118, 20.5.1972.

(2001/C 26 E/072) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0525/00
by Bart Staes (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(28 February 2000)

Subject: Iron Rhine

In answer to Question No E-2381/99 (1) concerning the Iron Rhine Mrs de Palacio states that the Belgium-
Netherlands arbitration treaty and the Belgium-Netherlands treaties deriving therefrom ‘do not specify the
precise location of the railway track inside this area (the Sittard canton)’. According to the Commission,
this means that the Belgian Federation and the Netherlands ‘will have to agree … on the manner in which
the right of way is made effective’.

The Commission’s position ignores the actual situation on the ground. The right of way was already made
effective between 1869 and 1879 with the construction of the very first cross-border railway link in
Europe. Consequently, the precise location of the railway track has been clearly specified since that time.

Can the Commission answer the following:

1. Does it appreciate that its position on agreement having to be reached ‘on the manner in which the
right of way is made effective’ ignores the actual situation on the ground since the right of way was
made effective between 1869 and 1879 and ‘the precise location of the railway track inside this area
(the Sittard canton)’ is thus clearly specified?