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21.8.2001

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EN

Official Journal of the European Communities

C 235 E/119

government which is paying the relevant compensation to cattle farmers. Besides the fact that withdrawal prices differ, in some instances cattle farmers are entitled to or denied additional aid such as payments for loss of income. It is furthermore apparent that in some cases the administrative authorities bear the cost of withdrawing livestock or the SRM of head of cattle which have died on farms and provide safety guarantees for the transfer and subsequent slaughter thereof, whereas elsewhere this cost is incurred by the farmer (by and large a smallholder with 15 or so head of cattle).

Is the Commission aware of the aforementioned situation?

Will it provide information on the prices and compensation paid to cattle farmers in EU Member States for the withdrawal of cattle earmarked for slaughter? Furthermore, in which Member States is the cost of withdrawing cattle and SRM borne by farmers?

In its view, would it not be more appropriate to harmonise the compensation made available, as well as the systems and responsibility for destroying cattle and SRM, at European level?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(9 March 2001)

No Community legislation provides for obligatory slaughter of animals aged more than 30 months and such animals are not considered as specific risk material (SRM) except with regard to the parts of the animal listed as SRM in Commission Decision 2000/418/EC of 29 June 2000 regulating the use of material presenting risks as regards transmissible spongiform encephalopathies and amending Decision 94/ 474/EC ( 1 ).

Commission Regulation (EC) No 2777/2000 of 18 December 2000 adopting exceptional support measures for the beef market ( 2 ) was not adopted solely in order to encourage testing of over thirty months of age (OTM) animals but also as a market support measure to remove animals from the beef market, which otherwise would be slaughtered for consumption and thereby make the imbalanced supply situation even worse. The financing of the scheme is shared between the Commission and national authorities according to specific rules laid down in that Regulation.

As to the actual payment under the purchase for destruction scheme within the basic rules of Article 4 of the above-mentioned Regulation, prices logically vary as a function of category, quality and prevailing market prices. With regard to the farmers’ contribution to the destruction costs, the Commission has only provisional indications, but it is currently seeking further information on the subject.

The Commission has constantly reminded Member States that unless provided for in Community legislation, national financing of measures or compensations in relation to BSE must be notified and dealt with in accordance with Community law. The Commission will shortly present a report with a view to ensuring the proper functioning of the Internal Market.

( 1 ) ( 2 )

OJ L 158, 30.6.2000. OJ L 321, 19.12.2000.

(2001/C 235 E/125)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-0107/01

by Dana Scallon (PPE-DE) to the Council

(1 February 2001)

Subject: Failure of Ireland to appoint an ombudsman for farming

Why has Ireland not appointed an ombudsman for farming?

C 235 E/120

Official Journal of the European Communities

EN
EN

21.8.2001

Reply

(14 May 2001)

The European Parliament shall appoint an Ombudsman after each election of the European Parliament for the duration of its term of office. The Ombudsman presently in office is M. Jacob Söderman. He receives complaints and conducts inquiries concerning instances of maladministration in the activities of the Community institutions or bodies, with the exception of the Court of Justice and the Court of First Instance acting in their judicial role.

The particular question concerning Ireland and the appointment of an ombudsman for farming raised by the Honourable Member is a matter of national competence and does not fall within the competence of the Community.

(2001/C 235 E/126)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-0111/01

by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(1 February 2001)

Subject: Whistle-blowers (1): their socially useful function in solving problems in large and small organisa- tions

1. Does the Commission agree that transparency and public discussion have always proved the most

effective means of focusing attention on suspected abuse within organisations and that such attention can help prevent the problems remaining unresolved for a long time?

2. What is the Commission’s view of the idea that it is defensible for persons with knowledge of abuse

to delay the transparency approach referred to in question 1 only, and for as long as, it is certain that the problems in question are limited in scope and/or that they can be rapidly and effectively resolved within the organisation itself?

3. Does the Commission acknowledge that it is a predictable, and virtually inevitable, desire on the part

of managers of all types of organisations to keep instances of abuse that come to light concealed from the public, to deny the problems or to delay resolving them, and that as a result it often happens that criticism and information which do not fit in with this approach are not appreciated?

4. Does the Commission also acknowledge that because of the desire referred to in question 3 serious

conflict may arise between, on the one hand, the management’s desire for peace and quiet in the organisation in question and, on the other, the socially useful role of ‘whistle-blowers’?

5. What is the Commission’s view of the consequences of the conflict referred to in question 4 for

whistle-blowers whose livelihood depends on the organisation within which they work and who accord- ingly may be afraid of being punished with dismissal or demotion as bringers of bad news?

6. Does the Commission agree that its civil service apparatus should not be an exception to the rule

that society as a whole benefits from encouraging the speedy application of solutions to problems, from the ending of undesirable developments and from public discussion of the best way of working?

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(11 April 2001)

The Commission considers transparency to be an essential quality of modern public administration. It gives high priority to providing information to citizens on its activities and remains committed to the principle of giving citizens the greatest possible access to information and documents.

In relation to the public disclosure of concerns about maladministration and potential wrongdoings, the Commission shares the view of the Committee of Independent Experts that an effective balance between the public interests of confidentiality and loyalty of public servants and those of transparency and accountability must be achieved. Indeed, the principal aim of ‘whistleblowing’ provisions is to provide an incentive for staff to report concerns internally, and for their employer to investigate those concerns effectively. The Commission believes that this applies with equal force to the EU Institutions.