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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/155

The Commission has the task of ensuring the correct application of Community law, in the light of the
powers conferred on it by the EC Treaty. As the guardian of the EC Treaty, it will take the necessary
measures in order to ensure the observance of Community law in this case.

(1) OJ L 194, 25.7.1975.

(2) OJ L 78, 26.3.1991.
(3) OJ L 377, 31.12.1991.
(4) OJ L 175, 5.7.1985.
(5) OJ L 73, 14.3.1997.

(2003/C 137 E/176) WRITTEN QUESTION P-3075/02

by Ulpu Iivari (PSE) to the Council

(22 October 2002)

Subject: Double taxation of orchestras

Under Community legislation and in particular Article 49 of the EC Treaty, Member States are forbidden to
restrict the freedom to provide services by means of double taxation. Avanti!, a Finnish chamber orchestra
financed mainly by public funds, was subjected to double taxation in Germany, in the Land of Schleswig-
Holstein, when it performed at the Schleswig-Holstein music festival in August 2001. It had to pay tax to
the Land on its appearance fees, even though, in accordance with the taxation agreement between
Germany and Finland, it produced evidence supplied by the Finnish authorities to the effect that its
activities were subsidised, the tour that it was making had been publicly funded, and it functioned as an
employer, in other words it paid the musicians’ wages, from which it deducted tax, and was responsible for
the employer’s contributions. The orchestra has already been in correspondence with the Land tax
authorities about the double taxation for nearly two years, and there is no end in sight.

Does the Council consider that cases of this kind impede the operation of the internal market? What will it
do to improve its operation and specifically to tackle the problems linked to double taxation?


(18 February 2003)

It is not for the Council to comment on the application of a Member State’s tax provisions. Furthermore,
the Council would remind the Honourable Member that Article 293 of the EC Treaty provides that
Member States shall, so far as is necessary, enter into negotiations with each other with a view to securing
for the benefit of their nationals inter alia the abolition of double taxation within the Community.

(2003/C 137 E/177) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3084/02

by Jonas Sjöstedt (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(28 October 2002)

Subject: Slimming agent Letigen

There has been a heated debate in Denmark over whether to ban the slimming agent Letigen owing to
numerous complaints about these pills. Swedes have also reportedly crossed the Sound to Denmark to
obtain Letigen.

In other Member States, however, these slimming pills are banned. What rules then apply in the internal
market? Should Letigen be authorised throughout the Union because it is authorised in one Member State?
Or if Letigen is such a health hazard as its critics in Denmark claim, should it really be possible to sell it in
one Member State when it is banned in the majority of the Member States?
C 137 E/156 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.2003

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(26 November 2002)

The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer to written P-3064/02 by Mr Lund (1).

(1) See page 152.

(2003/C 137 E/178) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3086/02

by Jonas Sjöstedt (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(28 October 2002)

Subject: Professional drivers with poor eyesight

Swedish newspapers report that professional drivers with poor eyesight are forced to use contact lenses
instead of spectacles. This has affected some drivers adversely as they are unable to wear lenses for various

The Swedish National Road Administration considers that the rules on vision standards are cumbersome
but that the EU directive must be strictly adhered to and that it is not possible to grant exemptions for
spectacle lenses over eight dioptres. However, the Administration has also said that lawyers and doctors on
the traffic medicine council are gathering arguments to persuade the European Union to raise the limit.

In the Commission’s view, is it possible for the Swedish National Road Administration to grant exemptions
to allow professional drivers to use spectacles which exceed eight dioptres?

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(11 December 2002)

As regards driving licences, Council Directive 91/439/EEC was adopted on 29 July 1991 (1) and entered
into force on 1 July 1996. Article 7(1)(a) of that Directive lays down that holders of driving licences must
meet medical standards, in accordance with the provisions of Annex III, which states that any driver in
group 2 must have a visual acuity, with corrective lenses if necessary, of at least 0,8 in the better eye and
at least 0,5 in the worse eye.

Such a defect of vision may be corrected with the aid of contact lenses for any level of correction.
However, where glasses are used, the corrective power could not exceed four dioptres until 1996. Since
10 July 1996, this maximum power has been increased to eight dioptres (2) to take account of scientific

Annex III lays down the minimum standards of physical and mental fitness for driving a power driven
vehicle, which allows Member States to apply stricter standards, but not less rigorous ones. However,
Member States may, with the agreement of the Commission, derogate from the provisions of Annex III
where such derogations are compatible with the development of medical science and with the principles
laid down in that Annex (Article 7(3) of the Directive).

(1) Council Directive 91/439/EEC of 29 July 1991 on driving licences, OJ L 237, 24.8.1991.
(2) Commission Decision 96/427/EC of 10 July 1996 concerning a derogation from the provisions of Annex III of
Council Directive 91/439/EECl, OJ L 175, 13.7.1996.