Official Journal of the European Communities

C 115 E/73

With regard to question on a concrete case in Italy the Commission would like to recall that it has no investigative powers in this area. Furthermore, the Commission does not have any information on international protection offered to the ‘Black Bloc’.

(2002/C 115 E/077)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-2394/01 by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission (20 August 2001)

Subject: Preparations for reopening the Mont Blanc tunnel to freight traffic without adequate safety precautions 1. Can the Commission confirm that preparations are being made for reopening to motor traffic at the end of 2001 the Mont Blanc tunnel between Chamonix in France and Courmayeur in Italy, which has been closed since 23 March 1999 because of a fire caused by a truck? 2. Can it also confirm that the Mont Blanc tunnel has not yet been fitted with water curtains or an adequate parallel evacuation tunnel, but only with a somewhat enlarged ventilation tunnel, and that the tunnel thus does not meet modern safety standards, so that it completely fails to take account of the latest thinking based on tunnel fires in recent years? 3. Does the Commission know whether freight vehicles will also again be allowed to use the tunnel, which was designed more than 30 years ago, is narrow, carries traffic in both directions within a single tunnel and was originally intended for limited passenger transport use but has carried a growing number of trucks over the years? 4. Does the Commission agree that there is a danger that the Mont Blanc route will attract much international through freight traffic because it provides a way of by-passing the nearby Switzerland, which is trying to limit such traffic and transfer it to rail? 5. How will the Commission prevent such dangerous routes from being kept open or brought back into service and used by vehicles which present serious dangers to other road-users? 6. Is the Commission aware that residents and local authorities in neighbouring localities consider that their environment has improved substantially as a result of the protracted absence of freight traffic on the tunnel approach roads, as the level of noise nuisance and air pollution has greatly declined and road safety has improved? 7. How will the Commission help to maintain acceptable living conditions in this vulnerable area around one of the EU’s internal borders?

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission (7 November 2001) In its White Paper on European transport policy for 2010 (1), the Commission states that safety in long road tunnels is a vitally important aspect of the common transport policy, especially as tunnels are important to many cross-border links. Accordingly, the Commission is planning a European initiative on the harmonisation of minimum safety standards so as to put in place conditions guaranteeing a high level of safety for the users of road and rail tunnels, particularly those forming part of the trans-European transport network. The French and Italian operating companies did indeed begin preparations several months ago to reopen the Mont Blanc Tunnel to motor traffic, in principle at the end of 2001. The renovated tunnel has been fitted with modern equipment to provide a significant improvement in safety levels.

C 115 E/74

Official Journal of the European Communities



The Commission believes the Mont Blanc Tunnel can only be reopened in line with safety criteria and once all the relevant conditions have been met. These measures will have to be checked by the competent national authorities. The Commission would emphasise that one of the main measures will have to be to separate the traffic travelling through the tunnel. This will help limit the number of lorries on this route. Regarding the control of terrestrial transport flows in the Alpine region, and particularly in the Mont Blanc area, the Commission considers that the priority must be to build and bring into service as soon as possible the two rail routes already identified in the 1996 guidelines for the trans-European transport network, namely the Lyon-Turin route and the Brenner route, as it has already stated on various occasions. The fact that Switzerland is currently building the longest tunnel in the world under the St Gotthard Pass shows that such projects can realistically be undertaken. In addition to the creation of new alternatives and infrastructure to handle a major part of the goods traffic crossing the region, road charging will need to be used as a traffic regulation tool. The White Paper proposes an approach whereby current charging systems would be modified to reflect more fully all the costs linked to each mode of transport. To help achieve the goal of sustainable mobility, income from such systems could be used to develop more environmentally friendly modes of transport. It is with this in mind that the Commission has proposed signing the transport Protocol to the Alpine Convention on behalf of the Community so as to send out a political signal in support of modal rebalancing, even if the relevant provisions allow some degree of flexibility to be determined on a case-bycase basis. More generally, the Commission intends to come up with medium and long-term environmental objectives for a sustainable transport system. This will be set out in detail in a Commission communication in 2002.
(1) COM(2001) 370 final.

(2002/C 115 E/078)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-2400/01 by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission (20 August 2001)

Subject: Moroccan pressure to reduce to 15 the marriageable age for women possessing the nationality of an EU Member State 1. Is the Commission aware that Moroccan nationality law assumes that residents of EU Member States originating from Morocco who have obtained the nationality of the relevant Member State also retain Moroccan nationality in perpetuity along with their descendants? 2. Is it also aware that this nationality law means that such residents possessing the nationality of an EU Member State continue to be covered by Moroccan family law which does not recognise foreign procedures governing marriage and divorce? 3. Is it aware of Moroccan pressure on the Netherlands to apply to anyone also possessing Moroccan nationality Moroccan family law whereby men, like Dutch nationals, may marry from the age of 18 whilst women may marry from as early as 15? 4. Are there EU Member States that stipulate a different marriageable age for women than for men? If so, which Member States and what minimum ages are involved? 5. Have other Member States received a similar request from the Moroccan Government as that made to the Netherlands, in particular, Member States with many residents of Moroccan origin such as France, Belgium and Spain, and which Member States have acceded to this request or intend to do so?

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