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C 110 E/198 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.


Reply given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(17 December 2002)

On the basis of the information provided by the Honourable Member with regard to problems
encountered by students of the region of North Rhine-Westphalia, the Commission does not have
sufficiently detailed information to be able to decide on whether Community law has been violated.
However, in general terms, the Commission can indicate the following.

As indicated by the Court of Justice in its Wirth judgment (1), courses given in a higher education
establishment mainly financed by public funds do not constitute services within the meaning of the EC
Treaty insofar as for such courses the main characteristic of remuneration is lacking. The education fees
which these establishments receive from students could not in fact be regarded as consideration for the
services in question.

On the other hand, courses provided in other higher education establishments, including those which try
to make a commercial profit and whose funding stems mainly from private sources  in particular the
remuneration to be paid by students or their parents  constitute services within the meaning of the EC

Therefore, in the light of these indications provided by the Court’s case-law in this specific area, it is
possible to evaluate, on a case by case basis, whether the installation and administration of specific
educational establishments can come under freedom of establishment (Article 43 of the EC Treaty) and
whether attendance of such establishments by pupils can come under freedom to provide services
(Article 49 of the EC Treaty).

For situations which are covered by these freedoms under the EC Treaty, obstacles set by authorities
(whether central or regional) of a Member State preventing pupils from attending courses provided in
another Member State instead of in their own country are likely to constitute a violation of the prohibition
of discriminatory measures as provided notably by Articles 43 and 49 of the EC Treaty. This follows from
the Court’s case-law which, for example, has specified that a Member State’s regulations which provide
financial advantages for participation in training courses organised on its territory compared with those
given abroad constitute a difference in treatment based on the place of provision of the service which is
forbidden by Article 49 of the EC Treaty (2).

Furthermore, for such situations covered by the EC Treaty’s field of application, Article 45 of the EC Treaty
cannot justify an obstacle to the right to attend and establish a school. In fact, according to the Court of
Justice’s established case-law, this EC Treaty provision, as a derogation from a fundamental freedom, must
be interpreted in a strict manner and be restricted to activities which in themselves are directly and
specifically connected with the exercise of official authority (3).

(1) Cf. judgment of 7 December 1993, case C-109/92.

(2) Cf. the Vestergaard judgment of 28 October 1999, case C-55/98, point 22.
(3) Cf. judgment Commission v Spain of 29/10/1998, case C-114/97, points 34 and 35.

(2003/C 110 E/220) WRITTEN QUESTION P-3290/02

by Giovanni Fava (PSE) to the Commission

(14 November 2002)

Subject: Emergency in Catania

Following the natural disasters which occurred recently in Sicily and which hit the area around Catania
particularly hard, and in view of the spirit of solidarity which the European Union has traditionally shown
towards less-developed regions and the particular importance it attaches to cohesion policy, would the
Commission not agree that it should redeploy the resources available under Agenda 2000 with a view to
giving absolute priority to making good the damage caused by the above disasters and that this emergency
calls for Agenda 2000 funding to be used in a flexible, targeted manner, even if this means exceeding the
specific forecasts set out in the Regional Operational Programme for Sicily?
8.5.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 110 E/199

Answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission

(3 December 2002)

The Commission can inform the Honourable Member that under the new decentralised management
arrangements for the Structural Funds (Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 of 21 June 1999 laying
down general provisions on the Structural Funds (1)), it is the managing authority (in this case Sicily
Region) that is directly responsible for implementing the regional Operational Programme. The
Commission is ready to respond to the emergency around Catania by examining the proposals sent by
the Italian authorities within the limits of the Community rules in force.

(1) OJ L 161, 26.6.1999.

(2003/C 110 E/221) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3297/02

by Marie Isler Béguin (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(21 November 2002)

Subject: Negotiations between the EU and Armenia on the closing of the Medzamor power station

The climate of tension and crisis persisting in the southern Caucasus has highlighted the Republic of
Armenia’s energy dependence on an outdated power station located in an earthquake zone, which is
attracting the attention and concern of the political authorities and scientists throughout the region.

The conclusions of the first EU-Armenia Cooperation Council meeting mentioned the prospect of closing
the Medzamor power station.

Discussions with the EU on Armenia’s future energy situation began after 1995 when the Armenian
government, faced with a severe energy crisis, reactivated the Medzamor power station, with the intention
of decommissioning it in 2004. As it has not been possible to work out practical and effective alternatives
to replace nuclear power, the EU and Armenia concluded that the closure of the Medzamor power station
would require major investment beyond 2004 to allow an alternative solution to be found.

The overall bill for making the Medzamor nuclear hazard completely safe has been estimated at around
EUR1 billion, including the investment required for the transition to alternative sources of energy. The EU
has pledged EUR100 million, subject to signature of a Memorandum of agreement between the European
Commission and the authorities in Erevan ratifying a final closure date; the balance is expected from a
Donor Conference scheduled to meet between now the end of this year.

1. Can the Commission reaffirm its commitments regarding the transition in the Armenian energy
sector on the same conditions and deadlines as were agreed with the authorities in Erevan?

2. Can the Commission give a transparent and impartial assurance regarding the relevance and
objectivity of the studies and financial estimates for the plan to close this power station?

3. Has the Commission put all its energy and resources into promoting renewable energies within this
energy substitution programme, taking account of the industrial transition priorities against the
background of international environmental crises, in compliance with international commitments on
global warming and in line with the major renewable energy source potential available in the Republic of

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(17 December 2002)

In 1998, the EU-Armenia Joint Committee established a Commission-Armenia Working Group to work on
the conditions for closure of the Medzamor Nuclear Power Plant (MNPP). The Group drew up a strategy