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C 277 E/232 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 14.11.

2002

(2002/C 277 E/255) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1635/02


by Stavros Xarchakos (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(10 June 2002)

Subject: Food safety in Greece

A single food control authority (EFET) was set up in Greece in 1999. According to reports in the Greek
press, however, the formalities involved in conferring official status on the authority have not yet been
completed in that the relevant ministerial decisions have not yet been signed by all the responsible
ministries. EFET was placed under the control of the Ministry for Development, a decision with which the
Ministry for Agriculture did not agree and it has therefore not yet signed the ministerial decision which
defines the authority’s powers. The Greek press reports state that Community officials have repeatedly
identified the operational problems facing EFET and point out that there is a question mark over the safety
of consumers’ health as there is no authority in Greece coordinating checks.

In what way and when exactly did Commission officials voice their concern over EFET’s operating
problems? What was the Greek authorities’ response? Since when have authorities responsible for food
control been operating in the other Member States of the Union? What action will the Commission take to
make the Greek authorities realise that it is a matter of urgency for EFET to start operating effectively?

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(25 July 2002)

Since the beginning of 1999, the Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) of the Directorate General for Health
and Consumer Protection has carried out more than 30 inspections in Greece. The large majority of these
inspections concerned food safety issues.

In the course of these inspections, significant weaknesses have been found in food safety control systems
in Greece. The findings and conclusions of each inspection and the related recommendations made by the
Commission to the Greek authorities have been sent to the Parliament in the usual manner and made
publicly available on the Commission’s website (1).

Responsibility for food safety controls in Greece is shared between different authorities including the EFET,
the Greek Food Authority. The FVO has concluded in a number of its reports that there is a need for a
clearer demarcation of responsibilities between the different authorities in Greece, and better co-ordination
between them, to ensure more effective and efficient safety control systems throughout the food chain.

Over the past two years the Member of the Commission responsible for Health and Consumer Protection,
has had discussions on several occasions with the Greek Ministers for Agriculture and for Development,
both in Brussels and in Athens, to express the Commission’s concerns about weaknesses in food safety
control systems in Greece. He has received assurances from the Greek authorities that there is a serious
and determined commitment to correct these weaknesses without delay.

Last February 2002, the Director General and senior officials of the Directorate General for Health and
Consumer Affairs visited Athens to review progress in the implementation of an action programme drawn
up by the Greek authorities to respond to the recommendations in FVO reports. During that visit, it was
agreed that a progress report on implementation would be submitted on a regular basis by the Greek
authorities to the Commission. The first report was received in April 2002. This confirms that there has
been progress in a number of areas. A further report has been requested recently. In addition a number of
inspections will be carried out by the FVO over the next few months to verify progress on-the-spot in
Greece in implementing aspects of the action plan.
14.11.2002 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 277 E/233

Although Community legislation does not oblige Member States to create specific structures for the
implementation of official control activities, there would appear to be a general movement in that
direction. Thus far, six Member States have created authorities with control powers, two have taken
political decisions to create such bodies, a further two have set up co-ordination bodies or procedures and
another Member State has set up an agency. However, these bodies or agencies have a wide range of
responsibilities and functions, which vary considerably from one Member State to another.

(1) http://europa.eu.int/comm/food/fs/inspections/vi/reports/greece/index_en.html.

(2002/C 277 E/256) WRITTEN QUESTION P-1644/02


by Gabriele Stauner (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(4 June 2002)

Subject: False calculation of Member State contributions

Various press reports in Germany and Luxembourg have stated that the EU Statistical Office Eurostat has
been working with false figures.

Is it true that, since 1998, false statistical information has meant that France has been placed too low on
the scale of wealth and, consequently, its contribution to the EU has not corresponded to its actual
position?

Does this not imply that the contributions paid by all the Member States must be called into question and
calculated afresh, going back to 1998?

The owner of the firm Eurogramme, which is responsible for drawing up the Eurostat figures, has been
quoted in the media as stating that five of his employees were working ‘intra muros’ in the Commission
and assisting the Commission in the management of research activities. Does the Commission not see a
conflict of interests here? Has the Commission drawn the head of Eurostat’s attention to the considerable
danger of a conflict of interests? Is the Prodi Commission allowing the so-called ‘submarines’ which also
contributed to the collapse of the Santer Commission to continue to operate?

Is it true that a member of staff who drew attention to the irregularities in Eurostat at an early stage has
been removed from her post?

Answer given by Mr Solbes Mira on behalf of the Commission

(5 July 2002)

Certain data relating to French construction prices are currently under scrutiny by the Statistical Office of
the European Communities (Eurostat) and the French statistical office, NSEE. It is not yet clear if the prices
used by Eurostat in its final 1998 purchasing power parity (PPP) calculations are erroneous or not. If any
corrections are needed, they will be made. However, these corrections, if any, would affect only the PPP
data, not the data in national currency or euro.

Regarding the ranking of countries in terms of per capita gross domestic product (GDP) in purchasing
power standards (PPS), Eurostat draws attention in its publications to the fact that the figures are not
sufficiently precise to establish a strict ranking of countries, particularly when their levels of GDP per head
in PPS are very close to each other.

It is highly unlikely that any revision of the French construction prices would change France’s position in a
group of countries including Germany and the United Kingdom, all close to the Community average.

There can be no impact on the contributions of France or other Member States to the Community because
these contributions are calculated entirely in euro at current prices.