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C 261 E/138 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 18.9.

2001

Assuming a standard GDP elasticity of United States imports from the Community, a 2 percentage point
drop in United States growth, will reduce Community export growth to the United States by 6 to 8
percentage points, shaving about 0,15 percentage point of Community GDP growth. This is an estimate of
the direct impact (second-round effects are not taken into account).

(2001/C 261 E/149) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0530/01


by Cristiana Muscardini (UEN) to the Commission

(22 February 2001)

Subject: Property rights and enlargement

As is widely known, the ‘Real Socialist’ regimes in the Central and Eastern European countries abolished
private property, which was confiscated. With the gradual return to democracy, the governments of some
of those countries have decided to recognise that the rightful owners (or their descendants) of property
that was confiscated still have a right to that property  with particular reference to houses and land. Such
persons are thus able to regain possession of the property confiscated from them, although the procedures
for doing so are complicated. In some cases, however  as has happened in Romania  former owners
are being offered not the land that was in their possession at the time of confiscation, but a replacement.
This has given rise to dissatisfaction and tensions, due not so much to any comparison between the
financial value of what was lost and what has been returned in its place, but to sentimental reasons, since
the confiscated property is intimately bound up with family memories and traditions.

Can the Commission state whether, during the negotiations with the applicant countries:

1. it is checking whether property rights have been restored?

2. it is able to establish whether confiscated property has actually been returned to the rightful owners or
their descendants?

3. it has set up a service which may be contacted by citizens of the countries concerned who wish to
appeal against decisions by the public authorities to offer them property other than that which was
confiscated?

4. it is willing to apply all possible pressure with a view to ensuring that property rights are fully
respected, particularly those of families whose property was confiscated?

Answer given by Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission

(18 April 2001)

The confiscation to which the Honourable Member refers took place before the entry into force of the
Treaty of Rome. Article 295 (former Article 222) of the EC Treaty states that the Treaty should in no way
prejudice the system of property ownership in the Member States. The matter therefore falls within the
jurisdiction of the candidate countries themselves and not the European institutions. Consequently, the
system of ownership is not being discussed in the accession negotiations, nor is the Commission carrying
out any investigations. Any complaint from citizens of the candidate countries must be made to those
countries’ authorities or to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Commission did, however, touch on the problem in its 1997 opinions on the applications from the
associated Central and Eastern European countries. Where necessary, it has referred to the problem in the
reports on the progress made by the candidate countries towards accession, which it presents every year to
Parliament and the Council, and in particular in the 1999 and 2000 reports on Romania.