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C 26 E/150 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 26.1.

2001

(2001/C 26 E/186) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1062/00
by Karl von Wogau (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(4 April 2000)

Subject: Tax on the entry of yachts and powerboats into Greek waters

Is the Commission aware that since 14 January 2000 yachts and powerboats which are not permanently
based in Greek harbours are subject to a tax on entry, in addition to the normal harbour duty?

Under the provisions of Article 11 of Greek law 2743/1999 the port authority of Chios, for example,
imposes a tax of Drs 2 000 per metre on yachts and powerboats of over seven metres in length when the
vessel enters a Greek port for the first time. This tax is valid for 30 days. If the vessel leaves Greek waters
before the expiry of the 30 day period and then re-enters a Greek port, a tax of Drs 15 000 (!) per metre is
due. Violations of this law are punishable by fines of between Drs 200 000 and Drs 5 million.

Does the Commission agree that these charges are incompatible with freedom of movement in the
European Union?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(6 June 2000)

The Commission has not yet been fully informed on this matter or been able to check its information
thoroughly, since Greece has not yet been invited to submit its comments.

With these reservations, the tax certainly seems to be one with an effect equivalent to that of an import
duty, contrary to Articles 23 and 25 (ex-Articles 9 and 12) of the EC Treaty.

The chargeable event does seem to be the entry into Greek waters of a recreational craft longer than
7 metres and not permanently resident in Greece, and so the charge would appear to be a pecuniary levy
unilaterally imposed on Community goods (in this instance pleasure boats) because they cross the border.
If this is the case it corresponds to the definition of a charge equivalent in effect to an import duty.

Nor does it seem to fall within any of the three categories of exceptions whereby such charges may be
treated as not having equivalent effect to import duties (part of a general system of internal charges;
payment for a specific service in fact provided individually to the person liable for the charge of an
amount proportionate to that service; charge levied because of inspections carried out to fulfil obligations
imposed by Community law).

Since it is doubtful that these entry charges are compatible with Community law, the Commission will be
contacting Greece to clarify the situation and obtain information on all the points raised by the
Honourable Member. Should it prove necessary, it will certainly institute proceedings under the procedure
provided for in Article 226 (ex-Article 169) of the EC Treaty.

(2001/C 26 E/187) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1069/00
by Koldo Gorostiaga Atxalandabaso (NI) to the Council

(6 April 2000)

Subject: Breach of Articles 2(4) and 6(2) of the Treaty of Amsterdam

The Austrian coalition government has been the target of intense criticism since taking office last February.
In a clear bid to underline EU public opinion, thousands of Europeans marched through the streets of
Vienna, encouraged by the global backing of all the EU institutions.
26.1.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 26 E/151

On 11 March 2000, at the Spanish-French border that separates Basque people, Paris sent police forces to
hinder the passage of Basque citizens going to a popular march in the northern town of Bayonne. The goal
of this gathering was to denounce the dispersal of Basque political prisoners all over France and Spain and
the violation of their rights and those of their relatives. The French Government, with full agreement from
Madrid, put into force Article 2 of the Schengen Convention that exceptionally allows border close downs.
Paradoxically, we witness that, while the Vienna march was encouraged, that of Bayonne was forbidden.

1. Can the EU Member States tell European citizens which human rights they are allowed to defend?

2. Can the Schengen provisions, as used by the French Government, thoroughly revoke fundamental
rights as guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights and the very principle of free
movement of persons inside the EU?

3. Can the Basques live in an EU without their internal iron curtain?

Reply

(8 June 2000)

The Council would inform the Honourable Member that in accordance with Article 2(2) of the Schengen
Convention ‘if public policy or national security require immediate action’ a Member State may
temporarily reinstate checks at its borders and ‘at the earliest opportunity shall inform’ the other Member
States.

The free movement of persons established by the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC) and
the exercise of the fundamental human rights guaranteed by the Convention for the Protection of Human
Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) may therefore be restricted when the Member States exercise
their responsibilities under such circumstances (see Article 64(1) of the TEC and Articles 10(2) and 11(2)
of the ECHR).

Under such circumstances and in accordance with the decision SCH/Com-ex (95) 20 rev. 2 of 20 December
1995 of the Executive Committee set up by the Schengen Convention, which has been integrated into the
framework of the European Union, the French Government notified the Council of its decision to reinstate
temporarily, that is on 11 March 2000, checks on persons at the Franco-Spanish land border for reasons
of public policy. The Council acknowledged that notification.

Neither the Council nor the Commission, as guardian of the TEC, have seen any reason to question the
French Government’s decision.

In this context, the Council would remind the Honourable Member that, in any event, responsibility for
maintaining law and order on the territory of the Member States of the European Union falls within the
exclusive competence of the authorities of each Member State. The Council is not authorised to take a
position on a matter which does not fall within the scope of the powers conferred upon it by the Treaties.

(2001/C 26 E/188) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1071/00
by Joan Colom i Naval (PSE) to the Commission

(4 April 2000)

Subject: Effectiveness of OLAF in combating ESF fraud in Catalonia

In recent years there have been repeated accusations of suspected fraud and irregularities in the manage-
ment of the European Social Fund (ESF) in Catalonia, Spain. According to some sources, questionable
activities undertaken in the 1990s could account for close to EUR 100 million. In the answers it provided
to written questions on these matters during the last parliamentary term, the Commission stated that it
was unable to report on the results of UCLAF activities, since they were sub judice.