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2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 364 E/73

2. The Community support framework (CSF) for Greece for the 2000-2006 programming period
includes a series of measures to improve management of water resources there, principally in Chapter II,
page 56. The full text may be found at Moreover, the rural development
operational programme in that CSF and the regional programmes include measures to reduce demand for
irrigation water and promote its rational management. Measures to encourage extensive farming with less
irrigation and better environmental protection through the management of inputs and natural resources,
including water, are also provided for under the agri-environmental measures in the rural development
plan part-financed by the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), Guarantee

3. The EAGGF has no legal basis to use part-financed measures to offset the losses of income caused by
the drought,. However, the Commission could examine State aid for that purpose under communication (1)
establishing the guidelines for State aid in the agriculture sector, if the Greek authorities notified such an
aid under Articles 87 (formerly Article 92) and 88 (formerly Article 93) of the EC Treaty.

4. The reduced harvest and income following the drought cannot in themselves justify agri-
environmental aid under Article 13(b) of Commission Regulation (EC) No 1750/1999 laying down
detailed rules for the application of Council Regulation (EC) No 1257/1999 on support for rural
development by the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF), because a condition of
this Regulation is the preservation of plant genetic resources adapted to the local and regional conditions
and under threat of genetic erosion. On this basis, the rural development plan approved by the
Commission in September 2000 includes a list of species and of threatened plant varieties which may not
be extended.

The arrangements for the coresponsability levy were terminated in 1992 when the common agricultural
policy was reformed. Since they were increased under Agenda 2000, the direct area aids introduced by
that reform, which represent approximately a third of total income, help stabilise the incomes of producers
of arable crops through their fixed character and independence of the harvest.

(1) OJ C 28, 1.2.2000.

(2001/C 364 E/080) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1284/01

by Theresa Villiers (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(3 May 2001)

Subject: EU direct tax

Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt recently called for a direct EU tax levied on all citizens. This view
is supported by the Belgian Finance Minister, Didier Reynders, who commented at a Belgian Presidency tax
seminar on 26 March 2001 that Mr Verhofstadt would have the opportunity to raise this issue in the
Council meeting in December at Laeken.

Budget Commissioner Michaele Schreyer told the Danish paper Politikien in March that she thought it was
a good idea and believed it would make EU politicians more responsible in relation to citizens. She
suggested a tax might take the form of a tax on interest from savings placed in another country, or might
be an EU CO2 tax, and added that President Prodi was also interested in this idea.

1. Could the Commission please state if it has any plans to introduce such a tax on EU citizens, in any
of the forms described, or in any other form?

2. Could the Commission please state if it has discussed this subject in internal meetings, or with the
members of the Belgian Government?

3. Does the Commission take the view of the Budget Commissioner that such a tax would make
politicians more responsible to citizens?

4. What position will the Commission take in the run-up to the December meeting in Laeken, where
a direct EU tax might be on the agenda?
C 364 E/74 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 20.12.2001

Answer given by Mrs Schreyer on behalf of the Commission

(31 July 2001)

Following the discussions which took place within the framework of Agenda 2000, the Council adopted
on 29 September 2000 a new decision concerning the system of the own resources of the Communities
(2000/597/EC, Euratom). This decision will enter into force as soon as the ratification procedures by the
national parliaments are completed.

This decision stipulates (Article 9) that the Commission will undertake, before 1 January 2006, a general
review of the own resources system accompanied, if necessary, by appropriate proposals, in the light of all
relevant factors. Among these factors is mentioned the possibility of modifying the structure of the own
resources by creating new autonomous own resources. In a statement attached to the decision, and at the
request of the Parliament, the Commission committed itself to presenting the results of this review before
the end of 2004.

An objective could be to replace the existing financing system of the European Union’s budget with one or
more European taxes without imposing an additional financial burden upon European citizens. The
Commission therefore welcomes all suggestions put forward by the Member States, which could encourage
the debate on these questions, such as the remarks made recently by the Prime Minister of Belgium with
regard to the European Council in Laeken to which the Honourable Member refers. The Parliament
expressed a similar view in its resolution of 5 July 2001 on the situation of own resources in the European
Union in 2001.

The Commission has not formally made any specific proposals at this stage. Exchanges of views and of
information could take place on this subject within the framework of the usual contacts between the
Commission and the authorities of the Member State that holds the Presidency of the Council of the

(2001/C 364 E/081) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1285/01

by Theresa Villiers (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(3 May 2001)

Subject: VAT

1. Could the Commission confirm that it continues to hold the definitive country of origin VAT system
as its long-term goal? Does the Commission believe that greater VAT harmonisation is desirable?

2. Could the Commission confirm that the UK’s zero rating system, currently used for children’s clothes
and newspapers, is still regarded as a ‘transitional measure pending the adoption of the common VAT
system’, as expressed by Commissioner Bolkestein in his response to Parliamentary Question E-1635/00 (1)
of 5 July 2000?

3. Could the Commission confirm that accession countries are expected to introduce full VAT rates on
items such as children’s clothes, shoes and nappies on joining the European Union?

4. Could the Commission explain the work currently being undertaken in the field of VAT, and does it
include a new work programme?

5. If so, what are the Commission’s priorities under the new work programme, and has the programme
been discussed by the Member States?

6. Has the Commission made any progress on any of the potential future priorities set out in
COM(2000) 348:

 Treatment of subsidies, public authorities and services in the public interest,

 Treatment of financial and insurance services,