You are on page 1of 2


2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 110 E/89

The Commission announced in its Communication on the second railway package (3) to propose a
Regulation on rail passenger rights. This will address the question of how international passengers obtain
information and tickets.

The Community Initiative Interreg III under the Structural Funds, and in particular its strand A
programmes for cross-border co-operation, cover the development of cross-border economic and social
centres through joint strategies for sustainable territorial development. Priority topics are among others the
promotion of cross-border urban development and the improvement of the transport sector by the
removing of obstacles to public transport, particularly between towns near borders (point 6 of Annex II of
the Interreg III Guidelines (4)).

As far as the Structural Funds are concerned, the Interreg IIIA programme ‘Grensregio Vlaanderen-
Nederland’ in favour of cross-border co-operation between Flanders and the Netherlands covers a measure
in the field of spatial planning and cross-border mobility (ruimtelijke ordening en grensoverschrijdende
mobiliteit). Possible actions may aim at the development of a total logistic concept for the whole
Grensregio Vlaanderen-Nederland, at the promotion of a common cross-border transport management and
at the realisation of a better cross-border offer of public transport (verbeteren van het grensoverschrijdend
aanbod van openbaar vervoer) including, among others, the harmonisation of tables of rates and ticketing
systems (afstemmen van openbaarvervoersbewijs/tickets). According to the general Structural Funds’
management rules it is up to the local and regional partners to develop project applications that will be
assessed by the Joint Technical Secretariat in Turnhout and then approved by the programme’s Steering

(1) OJ L 156, 28.6.1969.

(2) OJ C 151 E, 25.6.2002.
(3) COM(2002) 18 final.
(4) Communication from the Commission to the Member States of 28 April 2000 (OJ C 143, 23.5.2000).

(2003/C 110 E/091) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2684/02

by Freddy Blak (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(26 September 2002)

Subject: Charges on European roads

Germany has recently reached an agreement on introducing a motorway tax as from 31 July 2003. Austria
has also decided to introduce a similar charge as from 1 January 2003. At the same time many other EU
Member States are considering similar initiatives.

While this obviously presents opportunities for promoting a modal shift, e.g. towards the railways, the
above-mentioned decisions will hit some Member States’ haulage firms harder than others.

Can the Commission, therefore, explain how these schemes are compatible with the rules of the internal
market, and how they can be justified in view of their competition-distorting nature?

In addition, what initiatives are being considered with a view to the introduction of a uniform European
system of road charges, fuel taxes and eco-points?

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(11 November 2002)

At present, according to Directive 1999/62/EC (1), Member States can introduce or maintain tolls and user
charges on heavy goods vehicles (above 12 tonnes) for the use of certain infrastructures provided that such
charges are in conformity with the provisions of this Directive.

As indicated in the White Paper on the European Transport Policy (2), while the transport sector may be
heavily taxed, it is above all badly and unequally taxed. For these reasons, the Commission underlined the
need to develop a more effective policy in order to better inform transport users of the real costs and also
to improve the balance among transport modes.
C 110 E/90 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.2003

To achieve this objective, the Commission plans to present a methodology paper setting the principles and
the structure of charging for the use of infrastructure in all modes of transport. On the basis of this paper
and reactions received in the consultation process, more detailed common rules may be put forward.

The Commission has recently adopted a proposal (3) setting out the criteria for establishing a separate tax
category for diesel fuel used for commercial purposes (commercial diesel fuel). The main aim is to
uncouple the taxation on fuel used for commercial purposes from that on fuels used for private purposes,
and by 2010 to achieve an upward harmonisation of taxes on commercial diesel fuel, which would reduce
distortion of competition among operators.

With regard to ecopoints, following to the conclusions of the Laeken European Council, on 20 December
2001 the Commission has adopted a proposal for a Regulation (4) extending the ecopoint system as a
temporary solution for the year 2004. This extension is in line with the policy on environmental
protection in vulnerable areas such as the Alpine region and is only a transitional measure while waiting
for the adoption of relevant measures mentioned above.

In any case the Commission will make sure that freedom to provide transport services within the single
market will be guaranteed, while avoiding any competition distortions that may arise from unilateral
decisions taken in this field.

(1) Directive 1999/62/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 1999 on the charging of heavy goods
vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures, OJ L 87, 20.7.1999.
(2) White Paper on the European Transport Policy for 2010: time to decide, COM(2001) 370 final.
(3) Proposal for a Council Directive, COM(2002) 410 final, amending Directive 92/81/EEC and Directive 92/82/EEC to
introduce special tax arrangements for diesel fuel used for commercial purposes and align the excise duties on
petrol and diesel fuel.
(4) Proposal for a regulation of the Parliament and of the Council establishing an ecopoint system applicable to heavy
goods vehicles travelling through Austria for the year 2004, OJ C 103 E, 30.4.2002.

(2003/C 110 E/092) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2688/02

by Benedetto Della Vedova (NI) to the Commission

(26 September 2002)

Subject: Breach of Council Directive 79/409/EC of 2 April 1979 by the Italian Republic through the
Lombardy region’s Law No 18 of 7 August 2002

Law No 18 of 7 August 2002 enacted by the Lombardy Region has authorised, during the 2002/2003
hunting season, the hunting of the following species of wild birds that are protected by Directive 79/409/
EEC (1):

 Passer italiae, Passer montanus and Sturnus vulgaris (Italian sparrow, tree sparrow and starling) from
1 September to 30 December, allowing each hunter to take 20 a day and up to 100 a year;

 Fringilla coelebs and Fringilla montifringilla (chaffinch and brambling) from 15 September to
30 December, with each hunter being allowed to take up to five a day and 40 a year.

According to the Court of Justice (judgment of 17 May 2001 in Case C-159/99), Article 9(2) of Council
Directive 79/409/EEC ‘requires an administrative authority to determine in respect of the cases falling
within the scope of Article 9(1), if the conditions of that paragraph are fulfilled, in what area and for what
birds hunting may exceptionally be authorised. The authorities responsible under Article 9(2) of the [birds]
directive must also examine whether there is any other satisfactory solution which would allow the
problem in the particular case to be resolved without the need to resort to the granting of a derogation.’

However, this derogation has been granted not by an administrative authority, identified in advance, under
a regular administrative procedure, but directly by regional law No 18/2002. Consequently, the existence
of the conditions required by the directive has been affirmed in the shape of an incontrovertible legal
certainty. In the case of the Fringilla coelebs and Fringilla montifringilla species, the derogation allowing
hunting has been made on the grounds of the ‘favourable health status’ of the two species, in blatant in
violation of Article 9(1)(c) of the Directive.