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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
plan.

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?
26.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 26 E/59

2. If so, does the Commission regard the Iron Rhine that was constructed between 1869 and 1879 as the
realisation of the right of way to which reference is made in the Belgium-Netherlands arbitration
treaty and the Belgium-Netherlands treaties deriving therefrom?

3. If not, does the Commission then not regard the Iron Rhine constructed between 1869 and 1879 as
the realisation of the right of way to which reference is made in the Belgium-Netherlands arbitration
treaty and the Belgium-Netherlands treaties deriving therefrom? What arguments does the Commission
advance for not regarding the Iron Rhine constructed between 1869 and 1879 as the realisation of
the right of way to which reference is made in the Belgium-Netherlands arbitration treaty and the
Belgium-Netherlands treaties deriving therefrom?

(1) OJ C 280 E, 3.10.2000, p. 35.

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(2 May 2000)

In reply to the Honourable Member’s written question E-2381/99 (1), the Commission indicated that as far
as it knows, the precise location of the railway track inside the area of the Sittard Canton was not specified
in the Treaties. Of course it cannot deny that a railway line has been built and exists in reality.

However, it is not for the Commission to direct the Dutch government to implement any non-EC Treaty
obligation it may have entered into. Nor is it for the Commission to decide whether the terms of such
obligations have been met.

The Commission understands that representatives of the Belgian, German and Dutch Governments formed
a trilateral working party to discuss the reopening of the route. Following meetings of that working party
last year, ministers from the three Member States concerned agreed last December 1999 that a further
cross-border study of the definitive route should be carried out, to examine in particular the environmental
and other constraints on its development. This is necessary since the Dutch section of the route passes
through areas which are environmentally sensitive and are covered by the provisions of Council Directive
92/43/CEE of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and wild fauna and flora (2).

The Commission is currently considering a formal request from the Belgian authorities to extend the
Community funds already committed to the project to cover this study.

(1) OJ C 280 E, 3.10.2000, p. 35.
(2) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992.

(2001/C 26 E/073) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0526/00
by Gary Titley (PSE) to the Commission

(21 February 2000)

Subject: Harmonisation of veterinary medicines and pesticide product licensing

What progress has been made in harmonising veterinary and pesticide product licensing arrangements?

What are the main obstacles to progress?

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(30 March 2000)

Council Directive 81/851/EEC on the approximation of laws of the Member States relating to veterinary
medicinal products (1), stipulates that a veterinary medicinal product can only be placed on the market if
the documentation shows that the requirements on safety, quality and efficiency have been fulfilled. These