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17.4.

2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 92 E/197

What are the results of the study which the Commission is currently performing into GSM blocking
systems?

Does the Commission have any information about the use of GSM blocking systems in EU Member States?

If so, what action is the Commission taking against them?

Will the Commission draft a European directive on GSM blocking systems?

(1) OJ C 309 E, 12.12.2002, p. 207.

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(31 October 2002)

From the research done by the Commission it shows that Member States currently do not allow the
jamming of GSM signals. Although France has adopted a law paving the way for jamming, there are as yet
no implementing technical regulations, which would allow jammers to be legally used. The Commission,
after consultation of Member States, published guidance on this matter on: http://europa.eu.int/comm/
enterprise/rtte/jammers.htm.

The Commission is aware that jammers are currently marketed, mainly over the internet. These products
are illegal and therefore Member States need to take action against them under the provisions of either
Council Directive 89/336/EEC of 3 May 1989 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States
relating to electromagnetic compatibility (1) or Directive 1999/5/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of
9 March 1999 on radio equipment and telecommunications terminal equipment and the mutual
recognition of their conformity (2) and remove such devices from the market.

As indicated in its response to written question P-2753/02 by Mme Caullery (3), the Commission considers
that jamming is not a proper solution to deal with inappropriate use of mobile phones. Hence the
Commission does not intend to make legislative proposals which would legalise jammers.

France is currently conducting studies on this matter in preparation of national technical regulation (see
http://www.art-telecom.fr/communiques/communiques/index-030502.htm). The Commission will evaluate
the draft of such a regulation once it will be notified.

(1) OJ L 139, 23.5.1989.


(2) OJ L 91, 7.4.1999.
(3) OJ C 52 E, 6.3.2003, p. 210.

(2003/C 92 E/257) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2653/02


by Frank Vanhecke (NI) to the Commission

(20 September 2002)

Subject: Use of languages on labels on commercial products

In a reasoned opinion based on a judgment given by the Court of Justice of the European Union on
12 September, the Commission has drawn the French State’s attention to the fact that the law prohibiting
the exclusive use of English or of any language other than French on product labels violates a directive
dating from 1978. In other words, in the Commission’s view, France must tolerate the sale within its
borders of products which are not marked with any information in French. The only condition is that a
picture on the label should provide consumers with the necessary information. In this way, there is a
danger that one particular language  English  will becoming overwhelmingly predominant with the
Union, but there will also be a serious problem in countries and regions, such as Flanders, where highly
complex and precarious legislation on the use of languages already exists which has been designed to
maintain the political balance among the various language communities in the country.
C 92 E/198 Official Journal of the European Union EN 17.4.2003

1. Does not the Commission consider that this represents a violation of the principle of equality
between the various languages?

2. Does not the Commission consider that this represents a clear violation of the principle of
subsidiarity, provided for in the Maastricht Treaty? Surely, when it comes to consumer protection, national
governments are in the best position to judge whether their own citizens, many of whom will be
monolingual, will receive sufficient information?

3. What measure is the Commission considering in order to guarantee the equality of all official
languages within the Union in future?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(28 October 2002)

The Honourable Member refers to the judgment given by the Court of Justice on 12 September 2000
(case C-366/98) in which the Court ruled that Community law precludes a national provision from
requiring the use of a specific language for the labelling of foodstuffs, without allowing for the possibility
for another language easily understood by purchasers to be used or for the purchaser to be informed by
other means.

With regard to the reasoned opinion sent to France, the Commission was simply applying this judgment,
which forms part of the consistent case-law delivered by the Court of Justice to ensure the free movement
of goods in the internal market.

The Commission considers that this judgment does not represent a violation of the principle of equality
between the various languages and that it does take into account the principles of subsidiarity and
proportionality. In fact, both Community legislation and the aforementioned case-law emphasise that the
prime consideration for any national rules on the labelling of foodstuffs should be to inform and protect
the consumer. Use of the national language does of course guarantee that this is the case.

However, national rules which only provided for the exclusive use of the national language, without
allowing for the possibility for another language easily understood by purchasers to be used or for the
purchaser to be informed by other means, go beyond what is required to protect the consumer in erecting
an unjustified barrier to intra-Community trade in the products concerned, and could even, in certain
cases, undermine the objective of informing the consumer.

(2003/C 92 E/258) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2686/02


by Mihail Papayannakis (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(26 September 2002)

Subject: Contaminated bottled water

Research carried out by the Swiss Food Monitoring Laboratory on behalf of the Swiss Government has
found viruses in eleven European brands of bottled water which are responsible for many cases of gastro-
enteritis. In view of the fact that the samples which showed positive for traces of viruses came from water
bottled in Switzerland, Italy and France, but which are sold throughout the European Union, could the
Commission say whether it is aware of this research? Does it believe that these results are a cause for
concern and, if so, does it intend to take any action?