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2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 26 E/61

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(3 April 2000)

The Commission does not have a general record of which officials were provided with tickets, whether
paid for or free of charge, for the football World Cup. However, the Honourable Member is referred to the
answer to Written Question E-2342/99 in respect of officials working in the Competition Directorate

The general rules relevant to gifts to officials working in all EU Institutions are in Article 11 of the Staff
Regulations which state that officials ‘shall not without permission of the appointing authority accept from
any source outside the Institution any decoration… favour, gift or payment of any kind whatever….’

The Commission’s internal rules (delivered to the Commission staff on 19 February 1996 with Adminis-
trative Notice No 926) set out criteria for publications, speeches and gifts. They make clear that officials
should discourage the offering of gifts, but provide, inter alia, that ‘staff may be allowed to accept gifts
worth less than Ecu/Euro 250’. They further state that trips or weekends away organised by a third party
can only be allowed if the attendance of the official is in the Commission’s interest.

However, it is clear that not all invitations meetings or events, which may include meals, should be
regarded as gifts or favours within the meaning of Article 11. Meetings, events and other informal contacts
between senior officials and industry, Member States or third countries often include invitations. Such
contacts may well be relevant to the fulfilment of officials’ tasks. Moreover, within reasonable limits, they
may also be considered as part of the representational duties of senior officials.

The Commission therefore does not believe that acceptance of invitations to football matches or similar
events necessarily constitutes a breach of the rules or automatically risks compromising the independence
or integrity of officials. Clearly, if evidence was provided that an attempt had been made on any occasion
to compromise the integrity or independence of an official, or that an official’s obligation of duty had been
breached as a consequence of the provision of tickets or hospitality, the appropriate action would be

So far as changes in working practices are concerned: In the Action Plan which was adopted as part of the
Reform Strategy White Paper on 1 March 2000, the Commission announced that it would ‘codify and
simplify the texts implementing the Staff Regulations in order to ensure transparency and fairness’ in their
application. The Commission intends to review its guidelines in this context. Since the Staff Regulations
apply to all EU Institutions the Commission believes that there should be common rules to assist officials
and their superiors in dealing with cases such as the one referred to by the Honourable Member. It will
therefore present new draft guidelines to the Heads of Administration with a view to reaching an inter-
institutional agreement.

(2001/C 26 E/075) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0552/00
by Monica Frassoni (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(29 February 2000)

Subject: Compliance with the environmental protection laws with regard to the Mugello borrow pit

A project has been drawn up for the excavation of a large borrow pit in Galliano di Mugello (Florence
province), which will also involve the setting up of a crushing plant for the Bologna-Florence mountain
bypass. The site of the pit is not included in any general development schemes or plans.

The Territorial Plan for Provincial Coordination (PTCP) defines the area as a ‘vulnerable area which has
already been damaged by flooding and which is still subject to such risks’.
C 26 E/62 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 26.1.2001

The two streams near the site  Taviano and Sorcella  are subject to the environmental constraints of
Law No 431/85 (the so-called Galasso Law) and the scheme would also ruin the Gabbianello ornithological
lake project, which is nearing completion and which was funded by public money.

Furthermore, the site is in an area at high risk of earthquakes, as many studies have shown, and the choice
of site conflicts with the Italian Ministry of the Environment’s ‘rules and guidelines’ on the choice of
location for pits and landfill sites, published in 1993.

Near the area, there is a medieval 13th century bridge which is already in a somewhat precarious state and
which is governed by existing laws on the cultural and architectural heritage; there are also several listed
historic buildings.

Lastly, the site is in an ‘area of great importance for rural tourism’ (Regional Council Decision No 104/
1989) and even though the Town Council of Barberino voted against the excavation of the pit, the project
still seems to be going ahead.

In the light of the above, what action does the Commission intend to take to ensure compliance with the
numerous laws on the protection of the environment and the architectural heritage and town planning?

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(7 April 2000)

The project for the excavation of a large borrow pit in Galliano di Mugello (Florence) mentioned by the
Honourable Member, falls within Annex II of both Directive 85/337/EEC (1) on environmental impact
assessment (EIA) of certain private and public projects and Directive 97/11/EC (2) which modifies Directive

Directive 85/337/EEC establishes that certain public and private projects which are likely to have
significant effects on the environment, by virtue inter alia, of their nature, size or location, are made
subject of an assessment with regard to their effects. Classes of projects covered by the directive are listed
in the two Annexes. Article 4(2) states: Projects of the classes listed in Annex II shall be made subject to an
assessment, in accordance with Articles 5 to 10, where Member States consider that their characteristics so
require. Pursuant to Directive 97/11/EC, for projects listed in Annex II, Member States are obliged to
determine, through a case-by-case examination, or thresholds or criteria set by the Member State, whether
the project is to be made subject to an assessment in accordance with Articles 5 to 10.

The EIA legislation of Regione Toscana (Legge Regionale 3 novembre 1998, n. 79) is stricter than the
directives and provides that borrow pits are automatically made subject to an EIA procedure. An EIA
procedure covers and assesses the environmental aspects mentioned by the Honourable Member. Given the
lack of specific grounds of complaint on the application of the EIA procedure to the specific case, no
breach of the two mentioned directives can be identified at present.

(1) OJ L 175, 5.7.1985.
(2) OJ L 73, 14.3.1997.

(2001/C 26 E/076) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0564/00
by Christopher Huhne (ELDR) to the Commission

(29 February 2000)

Subject: Tax on profits

Will the Commission indicate the percentage rate on company profits in each Member State and also
indicate any estimates that have been made recently of the effective rate of such tax after allowing for
exemptions and allowances in each Member State?