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20.2.

2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 53 E/21

provided certain criteria concerning efficacy and safety for humans and the environment are satisfied.
These criteria are harmonised (the so-called uniform principles). Also the Directive harmonises the data
industry has to submit when applying for an authorisation. The data required from industry in order to
demonstrate acceptable uses are much more demanding which implies that for products already on the
market before the implementation of the Directive sometimes an important number of additional studies
have to be provided.

The Directive contains provisions on data protection which have to be applied by Member States when
granting authorisations. These provisions constitute a balance between the interests of those companies
which are generating the necessary studies in order to demonstrate the acceptability of the use of a plant
protection product and the active substance it contains and the interest of free competition on the market.

The Directive does not provide for a general system whereby applicants are obliged to share data at a fixed
price with other interested applicants. On the contrary, it provides that, after inclusion of an active
substance in the positive list, Member States may introduce national measures obliging applicants to share
the data involving testing on vertebrate animals with a view to avoiding duplicative testing on vertebrate
animals and determine the procedure for utilising information, and the reasonable balance of interests of
the parties concerned. The Commission is aware that only a very limited number of Member States have
made use of this possibility.

(1) OJ L 230, 19.8.1991.

(2001/C 53 E/025) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0738/00


by Joan Colom i Naval (PSE) to the Commission

(17 March 2000)

Subject: Application of Directives 91/676/EEC and 96/61/EC in Catalonia

Competence in the areas of the environment, agriculture and health has been transferred to the
Autonomous Community of Catalonia (Spain), which is thus responsible for implementing Directive 91/
676/EEC (1) concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural
sources and Directive 96/61/EC (2) concerning integrated pollution prevention and control.

In this context the Ter Protection Group (Torroella de Montgrí, Gerona) has detected an increase in
pollution levels in the Baix Ter aquifer at the lowest point of the river, shortly before it flows into the
Mediterranean. That pollution is caused by various substances, including a high concentration of nitrates.
The aquifer plays a vital role in supplying drinking water to the Baix Ter area, given that much of its flow
is diverted before it reaches the area in order to supply water to the city of Barcelona and for other
industrial uses, with the result that only a relatively small amount of water is left, particularly in summer,
in which all the pollution accumulated further upstream is concentrated.

Despite the Catalan administration’s delay in designating vulnerable areas (decree 283/1998), much of the
Baix Ter area has been classed as vulnerable and is therefore covered by the code of good agricultural
practices (order of 22 October 1998). Nevertheless, no environmental policy has been put in place: the
impact on surface and ground water has been neither identified nor assessed, and the same applies to the
impact on the soil, flora and fauna, i.e. there is no action plan aimed at reducing pollution in the aquifer as
envisaged in Directive 91/676/EC. On the contrary, uncontrolled discharges of liquid manure continue.

Does the Commission have any record of significant pockets of pollution with a high concentration of
nitrates and other substances which are evidently having and will continue to have an adverse effect on
community life, public health and the environment around the Baix Ter aquifer?

Similar problems are to be found in other parts of Catalonia, notably the Osona district.

What measures will the Commission adopt to ensure that the above Directives are complied with in Spain,
and in Catalonia in particular?

(1) OJ L 375, 31.12.1991, p. 1.


(2) OJ L 257, 10.10.1996, p. 26.
C 53 E/22 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 20.2.2001

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(3 May 2000)

The Commission has been informed of the situation described by the Honourable Member regarding the
pollution of the Baix Ter aquifer. A complaint on the same subject has just been recorded and is now
being examined.

Aware of the problem to which the Honourable Member refers, the Commission is examining the problem
of Spain’s failure to designate zones, in Catalonia and other regions.

It should be noted that infringement proceedings (case 1996/2205) were initiated against Spain for failure
to communicate the action programmes for vulnerable zones which are mandatory under Article 5 of
Directive 91/676/EEC. The Commission took the matter to the Court of Justice.

According to the maps the Commission possesses, the sector mentioned in the written question was
designated as a vulnerable zone by the Spanish authorities (Decree 283/1998 of 21 October 1998) but to
date no official action programme has been established.

The Commission, in its role as guardian of the Treaties, will take all the necessary measures to ensure that
Community law is complied with.

It should also be noted that codes of good agricultural practice must be applied both in ‘nitrate’ vulnerable
zones and in areas where Regulation No 1257/99 (1) is applied (measures supporting rural development:
agri-environmental measures and compensatory allowances).

(1) OJ L 160, 26.6.1999.

(2001/C 53 E/026) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0739/00


by Sergio Berlato (UEN) to the Commission

(17 March 2000)

Subject: Environmental priorities for the CEECs

The EU White Paper on the integration of the CEECs into the internal market exclusively concerns
legislation that is directly linked to the free movement of goods and services and does not cover such a
highly important sector as the environment.

The alleged flooding of Community markets with crops from eastern European countries  at give-away
prices is therefore subject to no control whatsoever, as the funding of € 10 million, allocated under the
PHARE programme for the approximation of environmental laws, appears to be inadequate and somewhat
ineffective, not least because the more urgent environmental priorities for the CEECs have yet to be
established.

Given the above, what measures does the Commission intend to take to ascertain whether products
coming onto the European markets meet the criteria laid down with a view to protecting the health of EU
citizens?

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(8 May 2000)

The White Paper on the integration of the countries of central and eastern Europe (CEECs) incorporates
much of the Union’s environmental legislation, including the rules relating to the free movement of goods.
The applicant countries must adopt the Community’s existing environmental standards before joining the
Union.