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2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 136 E/91

Does the Commission agree that its own strategy concerning climate change would be defeated if one
consequence of its proposals was the closure of existing hydro installations in Scotland and other parts of
the EU similarly situated?

(1) OJ C 89 E, 20.3.2001.

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(28 September 2000)

The Honourable Member inquires about the continuous competitiveness of large hydro power installations
in the specific case when these installations are over 40 years old and undergo refurbishing.

The Commission first of all would underline the importance of refurbishing hydro power to increase its
efficiency and environmental standards.

The Commission does not have at its disposal any study giving average values of the cost of refurbishing
in relation to the competitive position. In this context the Commission would point out that the costs of
refurbishing are site specific and the costs will depend very heavily on the type of refurbishing involved.

The Commission’s state aid policy as regards renewables is primarily aimed at focusing public support
towards renewable energy technologies that are not yet mature enough to penetrate the market on their
own. On the contrary, the Commission thinks that pure replacement investment, such as refurbishment of
large hydroelectric installations, should in principle be carried out on the basis of commercial criteria, such
as future demand for electricity or the availability of financial reserves which have been built during the
lifetime of the hydro installation. Under the State aid rules, Member States only can under certain
conditions encourage investment into installations that goes significantly beyond mandatory environmental

In conclusion, the Commission thinks that its policy in favour of renewable energy sources does not lead
to the closure of hydroelectric installations and that its state aid policy is supporting the combat against
climate change while preventing inefficient use of public resources.

(2001/C 136 E/104) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2772/00

by Emilia Müller (PPE-DE) to the Commission
(1 September 2000)

Subject: Eco-point quota for goods transport through Austria

1. How does the Commission intend to respond to the accusation that a 35 % reduction in the eco-
point quota available in the Federal Republic of Germany until 2003 is entirely out of proportion to the
fact that the number of shipments authorised in 1999 was exceeded by 6 %?

2. Is the Commission prepared to acknowledge that the 35 % reduction in the eco-point quota will
destroy many jobs in the production and transport sectors in the Federal Republic, and what action does it
plan to take to prevent this?

3. Is the Commission prepared to take account of the fact that, for whatever reasons, the railways are
currently not able to make the contribution to transit traffic through Austria earmarked for them in the
accession treaty, and are certainly not in a position to cover for the road shipments which will be lost as a
result of the reduction in eco-points?

4. What is the Commission’s response to the accusation that the reduction in the eco-point quota is not
consistent with the priority objective of free movement of goods and services laid down in the EEC Treaty
and Austria’s accession treaty?

5. How does the Commission assess the prospects for the many actions likely to be brought before the
European Court of Justice, since there is no legal basis in Austria’s accession treaty for the disparities in
cuts between individual Member States?
C 136 E/92 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 8.5.2001

Answer given by Mme de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(26 September 2000)

1. and 2. The Commission does not share the Honourable Member’s estimate of the size of cut that is
proposed for the ecopoint quota for Germany. The Commission proposal would see a reduction in
Germany’s quota of 735 466 ecopoints spread over 3,5 years, which is equivalent to a 5 % reduction.
Whilst any reduction may have some negative consequences, the Commission does not accept that a
reduction of this size will destroy many jobs in the production and transport sectors in Germany.

The proposed reduction in ecopoints is due to the number of transit journeys by lorries through Austria in
1999 exceeding a pre-determined limit by some 100,000 trips. Since the proposed reduction in ecopoints
is equivalent to some 350 000 trips the Commission does agree with the Honourable Member that the
reduction is disproportionate. However, the Commission is legally obliged to bring forward such a
proposal under the methodology laid down in Protocol No 9 of the Treaty of Accession of Austria (1).
The Honourable Member is reminded that this methodology was unanimously agreed by the Member
States when they ratified the Treaty.

3. It is hoped that some of the reduction in ecopoints will be offset by greater rail freight movements
across Austria. In addition Member States lorries should from 2001 have the opportunity to make up to
300,000 transit trips by 40 tonne lorries through Switzerland, as well as unlimited journeys at up to
34 tonnes.

4. The reason why the ecopoint system is covered by a Protocol of the Accession Treaty is precisely in
order to allow for a derogation from the objectives of free movement of goods and services within the
single market.

5. The Accession Treaty lays down no rules about how any cut shall be borne by the Member States.
This does not, however, mean that the cut must be borne equally by all Member States. Rather the
Commission has made a proposal that applies the cut objectively to those Member States whose hauliers
caused the reduction mechanism to be actuated. On this basis the Commission does not rate highly the
prospects of successful actions on this element of the proposal.

(1) OJ C 241, 29.8.1994, p. 361.

(2001/C 136 E/105) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2774/00

by Roberta Angelilli (UEN) to the Commission

(1 September 2000)

Subject: Sale of a banknote printing machine to Ukraine

In 1992 the Italian State Printing Works, Stationery Office, and Mint won an order worth several hundred
billion lire from the newly independent Republic of Ukraine for 1,7 billion coins and a quantity of
industrial equipment, including banknote printing machine.

According to the official version put out by the Ministry of the Treasury, bureaucratic and diplomatic
complications  not specified in greater detail  intervened, and, as a result, the State Printing Works
apparently supplied only the coins and, later, a general-purpose paper machine. However, a statement by
the Under-Secretary responsible, Mr Pennacchi, and the State Printing Works’ own balance sheets make it
clear that the machine in question was intended expressly to produce banknotes. On 10 April 2000 the
Corriere della Sera, one of Italy’s foremost newspapers, carried an article by its Brussels correspondent, Ivo
Caizzi, which revived the theory that the mystery surrounding the banknote printing machine for Ukraine
might be due to the fact that the machine could be used for unlawful ends, among other things to print
euro banknotes.

Could the Commission express a general view on this matter?