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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 28 E/213

Is the Commission planning to submit a proposal for harmonisation in this area?

In France, the axle weight limit for cranes is 13 tonnes, as opposed to 12 tonnes in Germany. Accordingly,
a French crane may carry more ballast weight.

Is the Commission planning to submit a proposal for harmonisation in this area?

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(16 September 2002)

Council Directive 92/81/EEC of 19 October 1992 on the harmonisation of the structures of excise duties
on mineral oils (1) sets in Article 8(3)(b) that Member States may apply a reduced rate of taxation on gas oil
used under fiscal control in respect of plant and machinery used in construction, civil engineering and
public works. In such cases, the rate charged shall not be less than the minimum rate set in Council
Directive 92/82/EEC of 19 October 1992, on the approximation of the rates of excise duty on mineral
oils (1).

In 1997, the Commission proposed a Directive restructuring the Community framework for the taxation
of energy products (2). One of its aims is to enhance the approximation of excise duty rates applicable to
mineral oils. The European Council in Barcelone (15 and 16 March 2002) asked the Council to reach an
agreement on the adoption of the energy tax Directive by December 2002.

There is no European legislation on the maximum weights and axle weights for cranes. However, there
exists Council Directive 96/53/EC of 25 July 1996 (3), laying down for certain road vehicles (a.o. vehicles
for the carriage of goods above 3,5 tonnes) circulating within the Community the maximum authorized
weights and axle weights in international traffic. These axle weight limits are 11,5 tonnes for a driving axle
and 10 tonnes for a single non-driving axle. However, Member States may nonetheless allow circulation in
their territory of vehicles or vehicle combinations for the national transport of goods freight which are not
in conformity with these limits (e.g. 13 tonnes for driving and non-driving axles in France). The
Commission has no plans to submit a proposal for harmonisation in the area of axle weight limits for

(1) OJ L 316, 31.10.1992, as last amended by Council Directive 94/74/EC of 22 December 1994, (OJ L 365,
(2) OJ C 139, 6.5.1997.
(3) OJ L 235, 17.9.1996.

(2003/C 28 E/243) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2270/02

by Caroline Lucas (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(24 July 2002)

Subject: FAO Paper on good agricultural practices

The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) has published a discussion paper
entitled ‘Good Agricultural Practices’ which contains a very helpful section on ‘Animal Welfare’. This states,
among other things, that: the isolation of animals (such as in veal crates or sow stalls) should be
prohibited; overcrowding should be avoided and maximum stocking densities should be conformed to;
non-therapeutic mutilations, such as tail-docking and de-beaking, should be avoided; and the transport of
live animals and the use of livestock markets should be minimised.

Has the Commission considered the FAO discussion paper and does it support the section on Animal
C 28 E/214 Official Journal of the European Union EN 6.2.2003

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(24 September 2002)

The Commission welcomes the initiative of the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations
(FAO) to formulate ‘Good Agricultural Practices’ including animal welfare aspects.

The Commission works actively to create a better understanding of Community concerns on animal
welfare at international level. The international dimension of the animal welfare policy of the Commission
aims at answering legitimate concerns of the European citizen and not at creating new barriers for trade in
animal products.

The FAO initiative, as outlined by the Honourable Member, supports the proactive approach of the

The Commission gives full support to technical initiatives to develop harmonised standards on animal
welfare in a multilateral context, such as the recent initiative undertaken by the World Animal Health
Organisation (OIE).

(2003/C 28 E/244) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2274/02

by Armando Cossutta (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(24 July 2002)

Subject: Incompetence in the financial and administrative management of the LIFE99/NAT/IT/6254 project
in Treviso

From the correspondence concerning the project LIFE99/NAT/IT/6254  ‘An integrated approach to the
conservation of the Sile wetlands’ between the Commission and the body governing the Sile river regional
nature park, it is clear that the administration of this project has been rather poor.

In the above-mentioned correspondence the Commission states that:

 the arrangements concerning the availability of financial resources were somewhat confused;
 mistakes had been in terms of the estimated costs;
 the beneficiary’s share of the funding had not been allocated and the Commission had never been
informed of this;
 the deadlines given had not been respected;
 there had been repeated and unjustified delays in sending reports;
 the second interim report failed to provide comprehensive or sufficiently clear information on most of
the actions.

Furthermore, the Commission has been forced to retract the statements attributed to its representatives by
the ‘Tribuna di Treviso’ newspaper on 24 March, saying that these did not correspond to the statements
made during the visit.

1. Does the Commission not think that an urgent technical inspection and audit should be conducted in
order to verify that the Community funds for the LIFE99/NAT/IT/6254 project have been properly used?

2. Should accounting irregularities come to light, does the Commission not think it should demand
reimbursement of those funds from the competent authorities?

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(20 September 2002)

In reply to the Honourable Member’s written question concerning the above-mentioned LIFE-Nature
project ‘Swatch  Integrated approach in the conservation of Sile wetlands’, the Commission had already