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C 137 E/68 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.


Is the Commission aware of this situation?

What measures is the Commission taking to combat the practice of vehicles stolen in Belgium being legally
re-registered without any difficulty in other countries (including EU Member States)?

Answer given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission

(24 September 2002)

The Commission is aware of the problem that cars stolen in Belgium or in other Member States can under
certain conditions be legally registered in Russia, in other Eastern European countries or even in some
Member States and can inform the Honourable Member of the following:

Work in the Union has been going on in both the first and third pillar to combat the problem of vehicle
crime in general.

Council Directive 1999/37/EC of 29 April 1999 on registration documents for vehicles (1) is, inter alia,
instrumental to facilitate those checks specifically intended to combat fraud and illegal trade in stolen
vehicles. Member States must bring into force the laws, regulations or administrative provisions necessary
to comply with this Directive by 1 June 2004.

Commission Directive 1995/56/EC, Euratom of 8 November 1995 on measures to prevent the

unauthorized use of motor vehicles (2) aims at strengthening the means of dissuasion against unauthorized
use of the vehicles. As such, equipping cars with immobilizers has contributed to a general drop of vehicle
theft in Europe (change 1999-2000 in Belgium: − 7 %)

With regard to the Schengen Information System (SIS), the Commission is aware of the fact that only
police have access to data on stolen cars, whereas vehicle registration authorities in the Member States
have not. However, the possibility of a legal instrument to grant vehicle registration authorities access to
SIS is under investigation with the aim to make the re-registering of stolen vehicles more difficult in the

Finally, the Commission is calling for closer co-operation between customs and car registration authorities
at the national level to reduce vehicle theft in the Member States. Additionally, in the third pillar area, the
Commission is constantly working on improving co-operation between Member States to combat vehicle
crime. Under certain Union programmes such as OISIN, some Member States have developed new forms
of co-operation in that area and some progress has been made. Moreover, Europol has produced an
interactive electronic programme designed to help law enforcement officers to identify stolen vehicles.

As far as registration of stolen cars in Russia is concerned, the Union has no direct legal means to prevent
registration of stolen vehicles in Russia. However, a series of expert meetings has been conducted under
the Union-Russia Partnership and Co-operation Agreement to deal with the issue, focussing inter alia on
how to involve the insurance industry in dealing with the problem more effectively.

(1) OJ L 138, 1.6.1999.

(2) OJ L 286, 29.11.1995.

(2003/C 137 E/077) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2283/02

by Bernd Lange (PSE) to the Commission

(24 July 2002)

Subject: Tourist traffic at the border with Gibraltar

This question concerns a European citizen who enjoyed freedom of movement within the European Union
during his holiday but encountered obstacles at the border with Gibraltar.
12.6.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/69

Waiting times there are comparable with what they were before the introduction of freedom of movement.
Border formalities are obstructed mainly on the Spanish side.

What steps has the Commission taken or will it take to remove obstacles to tourist traffic on the Spanish-
British border of Gibraltar?

Answer given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission

(12 August 2002)

The crossing point between Gibraltar and Spain is not an internal border, implying the absence of controls,
but an external Schengen border; thus, controls on persons are permissible. Furthermore, since Gibraltar is
excluded from the Community common customs territory by virtue of Article 29 of the Act of the
Accession of the United Kingdom, checks on goods carried by travellers coming from Gibraltar are also

After having received numerous complaints, the Commission sent, on 30 October 2000, a letter of formal
notice to the Spanish Government drawing its attention to the fact that the checks at the crossing point
between Spain and Gibraltar might be disproportionate and, therefore, incompatible with Community law.

In its reply of 20 December 2000, the Spanish Government states that the checks carried out are necessary
and proportionate. According to the Spanish authorities, persons are required merely to show their
passport or identity card and cross practically without needing to stop. The control of goods carried by
travellers is implemented by means of random checks performed on not more than one in ten persons or
vehicles, with these searches taking not more than one minute in each case. On average, eight vehicles and
twenty pedestrians are allegedly cross the boundary line each minute in each direction. Nevertheless, the
Spanish Government accepts that, regrettably, queues form in the route for cars at certain times of day.

After careful examination of the reply of the Spanish Government and on the basis of the information
supplied by travellers and of further information the Commission has been able to gather, it is concluded
that no infringement of Community law is actually being committed.

On 19 March 2002, the Commission announced its intention to close its investigation regarding the
Gibraltar-Spanish frontier restrictions having found no evidence to legally support claims that the checks
carried out by the Spanish authorities on travellers and on goods carried by travellers are disproportionate
and therefore incompatible with Community law.

On 21 March 2002, the Spanish authorities opened a second lane for vehicles, which should have eased
the situation on the spot. Since then, Commission has not received any further complaints.

(2003/C 137 E/078) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2289/02

by Geoffrey Van Orden (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(25 July 2002)

Subject: Elections to the European Parliament in 2004

Will the reduced allocation of seats in the European Parliament (as agreed at Nice) be introduced for the
elections to the European Parliament in 2004? Will the UK’s allocation therefore be cut from 87 seats to
72 for June 2004?

If the allocation of seats to the UK is to be reduced, what will be the regional basis for the reallocation of
the seats?