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C 137 E/66 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.

2003

Answer given by Mrs Schreyer on behalf of the Commission

(20 September 2002)

The Green Paper on criminal-law protection of the financial interests of the Community and the
establishment of a European Prosecutor (1) stated that of all the Community’s relations with third countries,
those with the countries that have applied for accession are of particular importance. They receive and will
continue to receive significant levels of aid from the Community budget. The European Public Prosecutor
(EPP) would be established most likely after accession. Once established, it would operate in the same way
in all Member States of an enlarged Union.

In the context of both its pre-accession strategy and the accession negotiations, the Commission closely
monitors the progress made by candidate countries with regard to legal approximation and their
implementation capacity. The acquis on the protection of the Community’s financial interests is fully
covered by these negotiations, especially those on Chapters 24 (Justice and Home Affairs) and 28 (Financial
control). Negotiations under both Chapter 24 and 28 have been provisionally closed with ten candidate
countries. They are continuing with Bulgaria and Romania. No transitional periods have been requested
under both chapters.

The Commission has co-financed a study on this matter (Study on criminal and administrative penalties,
recovery, denunciation and the Corpus juris in the applicant countries, general report of Ch. Van den
Wyngaert, 2001). Experts from the applicant countries have been involved in the preparation of the
report. The study generally concludes that there appears to be no insurmountable problems for the
integration of the Corpus Juris by the candidate countries, including the establishment of a EPP. A detailed
report on each candidate country, which includes an explanation of the specificity of the legal system of
each country, can be found in the study.

One of the objectives of the European Prosecutor is to resolve problems that occur as a result of the
compartimentalisation of different legal systems. The aim of the EPP is to create a single investigation
and prosecution area that dovetails with the 17 national legal systems of the current Union. Indeed,
enlargement makes the Commission’s proposals even more necessary. The problems linked to the current
fragmentation of criminal law-enforcement will increase with enlargement. Under the proposals the EPP
would throughout the Union direct investigations and prosecutions aimed at protecting the Community’s
financial interests; the protection of the rights of defendants, as well as trials, would remain with national
courts.

There are no specific problems regarding the implementation and the administration of a European Public
Prosecutor in the candidate countries. Indeed, any problems that may arise in the candidate countries in
this framework will not differ from those that the current Member States might encounter.

In this context, the Commission wishes to draw the Honourable Member’s attention to the fact that the
Commission supports the establishment of an anti-fraud co-ordination structure or service in each
candidate country, which will be responsible for the co-ordination of all legislative, administrative and
operational aspects of the protection of the Communities’ financial interests. Such a service or structure
will co-operate closely with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) and eventually the European Public
Prosecutor. It is important to note that such a structure or service already exists in several Member States
and candidate countries.

(1) COM(2001) 715 final.

(2003/C 137 E/075) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2271/02


by Charles Tannock (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(24 July 2002)

Subject: The cost of bank transfers

There is considerable concern about the cost of bank transfers within the Eurozone, with banks in different
countries frequently charging large commissions at both ends. Can the Commission confirm that this
practice is illegal, and, if so, explain why the Commission has not taken legal proceedings to prevent it?
12.6.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/67

What effect will the new regulations that have just come into force have on this practice and what will be
the effect of the additional regulations due to come into force in July next year?

Are there any agreements or regulations affecting the cost of bank transfers between the Eurozone and the
non-Eurozone EU states, and, if so, are these being honoured?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(4 September 2002)

The legal instrument dealing in 2002 with cross-border credit transfers is the ‘Cross-Border Credit Transfer
Directive (1)’; it concerns credit transfers within the European Union up to an amount transferred of
EUR 50 000. The Directive entered into force on 14 August 1999.

The Directive foresees that cross-border credit transfers ‘shall be executed for the full amount thereof’
(Article 7 of the Directive). This means that a cross-border credit transfer will by default be executed as an
OUR transfer, where all the costs, including those of the beneficiary’s bank, are charged by the sending
institution to the originator thus avoiding double charging. The beneficiary would then have no further
costs and receives the full amount transferred. Customers can, however, convene other ways of sharing the
cost for a payment: BEN transfers, where the beneficiary pays all the charges, and SHARED transfers,
where each party pays its own costs.

If any unlawful charges are levied by a bank, the customer is entitled to be credited the amount which has
been wrongly deducted (Article 7.2 of the Directive). This is a right given to him. All Member States have
correctly transposed the Directive on this point, but the Commission cannot take any legal proceedings if
customers are not using their rights.

The Parliament and the Council adopted the Regulation on cross-border payments in euro on
19 December 2001 (2). In accordance with this Regulation, cross-border credit transfers charges shall be
aligned to those for corresponding payments at national level on the 1 July 2003. The fees for the
originator’s and the receiving bank will be the same as for a national credit transfers.

This Regulation’s application is not limited to the eurozone but applies also in the three countries outside
for the transactions initiated in euro. The Swedish authorities have, furthermore, decided to use the
possibility to extend the provision of the Regulation to Swedish Krona. Thus only transactions initiated in
Danish Krona and in Sterling remain, as regard the cost, unregulated.

(1) Directive 97/5/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 27 January 1997  OJ L 43, 14.2.1997.
(2) Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001  OJ L 344, 28.12.2001.

(2003/C 137 E/076) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2277/02


by Kathleen Van Brempt (PSE) to the Commission

(24 July 2002)

Subject: Re-registration of stolen vehicles

Investigations carried out by Europol indicate that it is possible for cars stolen in Belgium to be legally re-
registered without any difficulty in Russia, in other Eastern European countries and even in a number of
EU Member States. Europol claims that, for every car stolen to order in Belgium, the relevant
documentation already exists in the country of destination. In those countries, no checks at all are carried
out, and the relevant legislation is too lax. No less than 76 % of the vehicles stolen are destined for Russia,
but Europol reports that stolen vehicles are also legally registered in France and, to a lesser extent, in
Portugal and Spain.