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C 261 E/60 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 18.9.


and reforestation continues unchecked in these areas as no assessment mechanism is in place. Will the
Commission ensure that an appropriate assessment mechanism is specifically included in any revised Irish
Environmental Impact Assessment procedure so as to protect these areas from this environmental damage?

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(22 March 2001)

The Commission is aware of the issue of potentially significant impacts of afforestation projects on acid-
sensitive areas in Ireland. It was amongst the issues raised by the Commission in its pleadings to the Court,
and the Court specifically refers to it in paragraph 69 of its judgment, where it notes that afforestation
may cause the acidification or eutrophication of waters.

To date, Ireland has not communicated the necessary measures to comply with the judgment in relation to
afforestation projects, and the Commission has therefore sent a Letter of Formal Notice under Article 228
(ex Article 169) of the EC Treaty.

The Commission confirms that it will take into account the issue raised by the Honourable Member when
examining any measures proposed by Ireland to satisfy the judgment.

(2001/C 261 E/062) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0194/01

by Ria Oomen-Ruijten (PPE-DE), Armin Laschet (PPE-DE),
Mathieu Grosch (PPE-DE), Klaus-Heiner Lehne (PPE-DE)
and Karl-Heinz Florenz (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(1 February 2001)

Subject: Restoration of international rail freight transport on the historical route of the Ijzeren Rijn line

1. When the possible reopening of the Ijzeren Rijn line is discussed, the Treaty of 1839 between the
Netherlands and Belgium is often cited, which provides for the right of free transit. What is the
relationship between the provisions of this Treaty and the relevant European legislation?

2. Would reopening of the Ijzeren Rijn line require an environmental impact assessment, despite the
fact that the line already exists?

3. The line runs through areas which are protected pursuant to the Wild Birds and Habitat Directives.
What are the consequences of this?

4. What is the Commission’s view of the existing line between Antwerp and the Ruhr (the stations
Aachen West-Montzen and a new line via Venlo) as an alternative to reopening the Ijzeren Rijn line?

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(19 April 2001)

In its answers to Written Questions E-2381/99 (1) and E-0525/00 by Mr Staes (2), the Commission pointed
out that the treaty on Belgian-Dutch secession of 19 April 1839, and the resultant treaties are bilateral
agreements concluded between two Member States and do not impinge upon Community law where they
are not in breach of the treaties on European Union.
18.9.2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 261 E/61

As regards the possible revival of the Iron Rhine, the Commission feels that an environmental impact
assessment must be carried out, as stated in paragraph 3 on the Answer Given to Written Question
E-2381/99 pointing out that the Commission does not have to tell the Dutch Government to meet an
obligation falling upon it under a non-Community treaty. The Dutch Government stated that Articles 6(3)
and 4 of Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild
fauna and flora (3) should be applied since the former railway line crosses a special conservation area as
defined by Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the conservation of wild birds (4). This means
that all of the special provisions of those articles must be complied with. Thus Article 6(4) stipulates that
no plan or project can be carried through unless there is no other option. That provision thus enables a
route other than the Rhine rail link to be adopted.

The matter of the existing link between Antwerp and Ruhr region in place of the Iron Rhine could not be
considered until the parties concerned have drawn up their cost/benefit analysis which takes account of the
environmental impact and of the relevant Community law.

(1) OJ C 280 E, 3.10.2000.

(2) OJ C 26 E, 26.1.2001.
(3) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992.
(4) OJ L 103, 25.4.1979.

(2001/C 261 E/063) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0199/01

by Stavros Xarchakos (PPE-DE) and Antonios Trakatellis (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(1 February 2001)

Subject: Monitoring of uranium pollution in the Rivers Strymona and Nestos

In May 1998 the Commission replied to Question H-0438/98 (1) (’Question Time’) and confirmed reports
about the pollution of the Greek Rivers Strymona and Nestos with uranium, adding that the pollution in
question was caused not by the Bulgarian nuclear plant of Kozludoy, but by earlier uranium mining
activities near these rivers.

Has the Commission been officially informed by the Greek authorities about the existence of an extensive
and reliable network for measuring uranium pollution in these rivers, what are the findings of recent tests
concerning uranium levels in the waters of these rivers and what is the precise origin of this pollution?

(1) Written answer of 12.05.1998.

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(6 April 2001)

Member States are required to communicate information periodically on the monitoring of the level of
radioactivity in the air, water and soil so that the Commission is kept informed of the level of radioactivity
to which the public is exposed (Article 36, Chapter III, Health and Safety of the Euratom Treaty).

Commission Recommendation (2000/473/Euratom) on the application of Article 36 of the Euratom Treaty

was adopted on 8 June 2000 (1). It requires Member States to monitor surface waters for Cs-137 and
residual beta activity. For drinking water, specific monitoring for natural radionuclides should be carried
out in compliance with Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended
for human consumption (2).