C 160 E/196

Official Journal of the European Communities

EN

4.7.2002

These ‘Euroclasses’ are established as Commission Decisions, taken in the framework of the implementation of the Construction Products Directive (CPD), Council Directive 89/106/EEC of 21 December 1988 on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to construction products (3), and represent important instruments for Member States to harmonise fire performance requirements on construction products. The reaction to fire Euroclasses are underpinned by a brand new European test method, the ‘single burning item’ or SBI test. This test was partly funded by the Commission and provides a harmonised means of assessing the reaction to fire performance of construction products. The SBI test standard was published on the 13 February 2002. Therefore the classification ‘Euroclasses for reaction to fire’ is now operational, and a common framework is available to the Member States. The Commission is convinced that the new Euroclasses system will provide an important contribution to increasing the safety in case of fire in buildings.
(1) OJ L 384, 31.12.1986. (2) COM(2001) 348 final. (3) OJ L 40, 11.2.1989.

(2002/C 160 E/243)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-0198/02 by Bernd Lange (PSE) to the Commission (6 February 2002)

Subject: Age limit for dentists The Gesundheitsstrukturgesetz, (German health law) stipulates an age limit for practising as a dentist. A question was put to me regarding the extent to which this restriction is consistent with Article 12 of the EC Treaty (ex-Article 6: prohibition of discrimination), Article 40 and Article 44 (freedom of movement for workers, freedom of establishment), in the event of a dental practitioner having already exceeded the age limit allowed by the German law. Does it constitute a breach of the aforementioned Articles of the EC Treaty if a dentist is no longer authorised to work because of his age? Is the Commission aware of this problem? Have there already been similar cases where complaints have been made? Where the complaints proved legitimate, has the Commission already taken steps to remedy the situation and what action does it plan to take?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission (21 March 2002) Article 12 of the EC Treaty prohibits any discrimination on grounds of nationality, i.e. between nationals of the Member States. The same principle is repeated in the treaty provisions concerning the free movement of workers, Article 39 of the EC Treaty. The information provided in the written question does not indicate any discrimination on grounds of nationality. The Right of Establishment and the Right to provide Services Articles 43 and 49 of the EC Treaty are, where no harmonisation measures have been taken by the Union, subject to national rules in the Member States. In order to be compatible with the Treaty restrictions to these rights must be justified. According to the jurisprudence on the right of establishment of the Court of Justice, restrictions which hinder or make less attractive the exercise of fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the EC Treaty must fulfil four conditions: they must be applied in a non-discriminatory manner; they must be justified by imperative requirements in the general interest; they must be suitable for securing the attainment of the objective which they pursue; and they must not go beyond what is necessary in order to attain it. In the light of the information provided by the Honourable Member, the German law or its application does not appear to be disproportionate or otherwise be incompatible with the above listed requirements. To the knowledge the Commission, complaints concerning age limits to practice the dental profession have not been received before.

4.7.2002

EN

Official Journal of the European Communities

C 160 E/197

At this stage the Commission does not intend to take further action on the matter due to the reported German regulation. As to the wider context of age discrimination, Article 13 of the EC Treaty foresees that the appropriate legislative action may be taken to combat discrimination based on sex, racial or ethnic origin, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation. Council Directive 2000/78/EC of 27 November 2000 provides that discrimination based on, inter alia, age is prohibited in employment and occupation. Member States must introduce the national measures to give effect to this directive by 2 December 2003 though they may, if necessary to take account of particular conditions, have an additional period of three years from that date to implement the provisions on age and disability discrimination. Moreover, Member States may provide that differences of treatment on grounds of age shall not constitute discrimination if, within the context of national law, they are reasonably justified by a legitimate aim, including legitimate employment policy, labour market and vocational training objectives, and if the means of achieving that aim are appropriate and necessary. The Commission is therefore unable to intervene in this case to ensure the application of the principle of equal treatment in relation to age in advance of the date of transposition of the Directive.

(2002/C 160 E/244)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-0200/02 by Charles Tannock (PPE-DE), Per-Arne Arvidsson (PPE-DE) and Antonios Trakatellis (PPE-DE) to the Commission (6 February 2002)

Subject: Asbestos regulations in the European Union Following studies by Professor Julian Peto of the Institute of Cancer Research in the 1980s which suggested that ‘white’ asbestos was just as dangerous as ‘blue’ and ‘brown’ asbestos (which had been identified in the 1950s by Professor Richard Doll as being extremely hazardous to human health), the European Commission introduced directives lumping the two together. Is the Commission aware that subsequent reports commissioned by the UK Health and Safety Executive carried-out by Dr Alan Gibbs and Professor F. Pooley suggested that Professor Peto may have misread the data, that further internal Health and Safety Executive studies, including a paper by John Hodgson and Andrew Darnton, concluded in the year 2000 that the risk from ‘white’ asbestos (which confusingly shares the same name as ‘blue’ and ‘brown’ asbestos despite having an entirely different chemical structure) is ‘virtually zero’, that in 1992 a senior US court declared that more people are likely to ‘die from inhalation of toothpicks than from white asbestos fibres’ and that, following the release of 40 tonnes of ‘white’ asbestos as a result of the collapse of the World Trade Center last September, the US Environmental Protection Agency declared that this posed no danger? Will the Commission undertake to request information from the US and New York health authorities over the coming months as to the environmental impact of this enormous release of ‘white’ asbestos into the atmosphere and, without in any way questioning the need for measures to protect humans from the effects of ‘blue’ and ‘brown’ asbestos, will the Commission ask its own scientific advisory body to look into the conflicting scientific evidence over ‘white’ asbestos and produce its own report on the matter to ensure that all asbestos legislation is appropriately targeted and that industry is not required to bear huge and unnecessary costs to protect against non-dangerous substances?

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission (15 March 2002) Via Commission Directive 1999/77/EC of 26 July 1999 adapting to technical progress for the sixth time Annex I to Council Directive 76/769/EEC on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative

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