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C 92 E/216 Official Journal of the European Union EN 17.4.

2003

Was Community financing for Walloon structural funds not suspended in the autumn on the grounds that
lists of areas submitted were incomplete? Would it not therefore be appropriate to include the D’Hoppebos
in the relevant list?

(1) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7.


(2) OJ L 103, 25.4.1979, p. 1.

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(25 October 2002)

The bilateral concertation procedure the Honourable Member refers to and which is provided for in
Article 5(1) of Directive 92/43/EEC (1) only applies in exceptional cases where the Commission finds that a
list of sites proposed by a Member State fails to mention a site hosting a priority natural habitat type or
priority species which, on the basis of relevant and reliable scientific information, it considers to be
essential for the maintenance of that priority natural habitat site or for the survival of that priority species.
In the case referred to by the Honourable Member, the Commission has insufficient scientific information
to conclude that the procedure needs to be applied.

As regards D’Hoppebos being proposed as a site of Community importance under Article 4(1) of Directive
93/43/EEC, the Commission has yet to receive formal communication of the new list of sites adopted by
the Walloon Government on 27 September 2002 and so is unable, at present, to check whether that
Government has proposed the wood as a potential site of Community importance under the Directive. It
should also be noted that it falls to the Member State to apply the selection criteria set out in Annex III to
the Directive. These relate in particular to the representativeness, surface area and degree of conservation
of the natural habitats present on the site in question, and to the populations of species present. The
Member State has a margin of appreciation in applying these criteria. On the basis of the information
supplied by the Honourable Member, the Commission is unable to judge whether the Walloon
Government has misused its discretionary power in applying the site selection criteria by failing to
propose the site in question as a site of Community importance.

The Commission recently received a complaint concerning the operation of a waste burial centre on the
site in question. In this context, it could ask the Walloon Government to provide it with due evidence that
the provisions of Article 6(3) of Directive 93/43/EEC regarding assessment of the implications of plans or
projects on sites protected by the Directive have been complied with.

The Commission can confirm that the Member of the Commission responsible for Regional Policy wrote
on 14 June 2001 to the Minister-President of the Walloon Region, informing him of his decision to
instruct the Commission’s Directorate-General for Regional Policy to suspend payments for two measures
in the Hainaut 2000-2006 Objective 1 Single Programming Document (SPD), liable, through their
potential impact on the territory, to damage possible Natura 2000 sites. This suspension will be lifted as
soon as the Walloon Region sends the Commission its list of Natura 2000 sites.

(1) Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora.

(2003/C 92 E/276) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2885/02


by Brice Hortefeux (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(14 October 2002)

Subject: Civil defence

With the end of the Cold War and the feeling that the threat of conflict has receded, countries in the West
have considerably reduced their spending on civil defence. The terrorist attacks on New York and
Washington showed up serious deficiencies in their arrangements for defending the civilian population.
17.4.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 92 E/217

Everything suggests at present that these deficiencies also exist in the EU Member States. Experts now
consider that there is a real risk of terrorists using biological weapons, whence the importance of measures
to protect the civilian population, particularly in Europe’s large cities.

According to the report by George Gouvras, the head of the Task Force set up by the Commission
following the attacks of 11 September, which was published last week, most of the EU Member States
have neither vaccines nor appropriate strategies to respond to mass bioterrorist attacks using diseases such
as smallpox.

Does the Commission take the view that adequate protection is provided for the civilian population in the
European Union?

Do civil defence plans exist in the European Union and, if so, can the Commission give details of their
content?

Does the Commission not consider that efforts should be stepped up in this area in the light of the events
of 11 September?

Could the European Union not envisage drawing up a set of binding minimum civil defence requirements,
particularly for Europe’s large cities?

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission


(12 November 2002)

As stated in Commission communication on ‘Civil protection  State of preventive alert against possible
emergencies’ (1), governments at all levels have been prompted to re-consider how ready and able they are
to prevent or mitigate the impact of these threats to our society in the aftermath of the unprecedented and
tragic terrorist attacks in the United States of America (USA). The communication made a clear case for
the need to improve Europe’s capacity to respond to emergencies arising from biological or chemical
terrorist attacks. It also set out the actions that the Commission intended to undertake across the range of
Community policies to respond to the European Council’s call at Ghent on 19 October 2001, addressed to
the Council and the Commission, to prepare a programme to improve the co-operation between Member
States in this area.

The Member States and the Commission have been working since to enhance preparedness and response
to the new type of threat that constituted the bioterrorist attacks in the USA. In addition to national
measures, measures at Union level and joint actions between the Commission and the Member States have
been undertaken to improve the capacity and ability to deal with deliberate releases of biological, chemical
and radio-nuclear substances to cause harm. Progress with this work and on-going activities have been
presented in Commission communication on ‘Civil protection  Progress made in implementing the
programme for preparedness for possible emergencies’ (2). The testing of emergency plans forms part of
these activities.

In order to identify what initiatives are currently in place and those that may additionally be needed for the
protection of the Union population against the consequences of terrorist biological, chemical and radio-
nuclear threats and attacks, the Council and Commission are now working to prepare a joint programme
which will be submitted to the forthcoming European Council in Copenhagen in December 2002.

(1) COM(2001) 707 final.


(2) COM(2002) 302 final.

(2003/C 92 E/277) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2897/02


by Margrietus van den Berg (PSE) to the Commission
(14 October 2002)

Subject: Agreement of international rules concerning top-class sport

The world of European football is in crisis. The Italian competition has been postponed because of serious
financial problems and disputes between clubs and television stations concerning broadcasting rights.
Meanwhile, Ronaldo has departed to Real Madrid for the astronomical sum of EUR 50 million. Many