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C 137 E/166 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.


The Community-Vietnam bilateral co-operation programme is based on the strategy agreed with the
Government of Vietnam for the period 2002-2006, which aims to facilitate and accelerate the reduction of
poverty in a sustainable manner.

Under this strategy, Community-Vietnam co-operation will focus on two priority focal points:

 enhancement of human development, in particular through integrated rural development targeting

some of the poorest provinces, and through support in the education sector;

 integration of Vietnam into the international economy, by assisting further economic reform and
integration into international and regional economic structures.

Crosscutting themes include disaster preparedness, environmental protection, culture and education,
gender equality, and the promotion of human rights, and good governance. In the framework of the
agreed National Indicative Programme for 2002-2004, an indicative Community grant of EUR 101 million
has been earmarked to implement specified proposals.

The Commission’s overall aid budget in Asia is relatively limited. It is therefore determined to maximise its
impact and the strategic focus it has adopted in Vietnam has helped to do that. Projects agreed under the
1996-2000 co-operation strategy and currently under implementation include two large programmes in
the health sector and one in the environment sector. The Commission is always ready to consider other
issues that may be raised, including assistance for persons affected by Agent Orange. But it needs to ensure
that it retains a well-balanced and focussed approach.

In addition to the Community’s bilateral co-operation programme  Vietnam also qualifies for assistance
under the Commission’s horizontal programmes, including those concerned specifically with the
environment, as well as the Community Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development
and Demonstration Activities and the non-governmental organisations co-financing programme for
developing countries. The possibility of presenting proposals under the next calls for proposals under
these programmes could also be considered.

(1) OJ C 134 E, 6.6.2002.

(2003/C 137 E/190) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3158/02

by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(5 November 2002)

Subject: Delay in taxation of foreign-owned savings accounts due to indecision as to whether to abolish
banking secrecy or to introduce taxation at source

1. Is the EU still negotiating with third countries such as Switzerland and Liechtenstein about the
implementation of the decision taken by the Ministers of Finance of the EU Member States in 2001 to
exchange information about the balances in the savings accounts of each other’s nationals on condition
that the third countries relevant to the management of savings had agreed to cooperate by the end of

2. Can the Commission provide any information about the statement by Commissioner Bolkestein
quoted in the Financial Times on 7 October 2002 to the effect that, while EU Member States are insisting
on firm agreements with third countries on the taxability of foreign savings by abolishing banking secrecy,
they may not themselves be genuinely interested in the successful completion of these negotiations because
this would involve abolishing banking secrecy in their own countries?

3. Do the pessimistic expectations referred to in paragraph 2 apply to Luxembourg, Austria and the
United Kingdom? Are there any other Member States which may consider that it would not be in their
own interests for an agreement to be reached?
12.6.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/167

4. Which non-EU countries have now agreed to cooperate?

5. If no agreement is reached with third countries  though let us hope that one will be  will there
nonetheless still be agreement on the deduction of tax at source throughout the EU before interest is paid
to savers? If so, on what date will this be introduced?

6. How much tax revenue will be forfeited within the EU because the tax deducted at source is likely to
be calculated at a lower rate than the normal domestic tax rates?

7. What could be done at the earliest possible date to ensure that residents of EU Member States who
keep savings accounts outside their country of residence are no longer rewarded by what in practice comes
down to exemption from the requirement to pay tax or a large reduction in the tax they are required to

Source: Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant, 8 October 2002.

Reply given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(7 January 2003)

On 16 October 2001, the Ecofin Council instructed the Commission to open negotiations with the United
States and five other non-member countries (Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and San Maríno)
with a view to obtaining adequate undertakings that they would introduce measures equivalent to those
which the EU plans to adopt within the Community concerning taxation of income on the savings of non-

These negotiations were launched after the Ecofin Council had unanimously adopted a draft directive on
13 December 2001 which brought together all the provisions on taxation of savings which were to serve
as the basis for them.

Since early 2002, in the course of carrying out these negotiations, the Commission has met several times
with the representatives of the six third countries concerned. The Commission’s objective was to achieve
concrete results in time to allow the Council to adopt the Directive on taxation of savings as part of a
comprehensive agreement on taxation before the end of 2002.

In the light of this deadline, which was set by the Feira European Council in June 2000, the Commission
drew up a report on progress with the negotiations which it adopted on 27 November 2002 (1). This report
was submitted to the Council, and was also sent to the Parliament for their information. A copy of the
report is being sent directly to the honourable member, and another is being sent to the Parliament’s
Secretariat General.

In the debate which took place during the Ecofin Council meetings of 3 and 11 December 2002,
the Member States were able to define more clearly their individual positions regarding the offers of
cooperation made by the non-member countries concerned. However, the ministers decided that certain
technical aspects deserved further discussion, and agreed to introduce a brief delay into the work
programme set out at Feira. The Ecofin meeting of 21 January 2003 was therefore set as the date on
which a decision would be made. The Commission is looking forward to the announcement of the results
of the discussions which are ongoing within the Ecofin Council; meanwhile, we continue our contacts with
the third countries involved to try and clarify their offers further. The Commission is eager to find effective
solutions and apply them rapidly, so as to ensure that the internal market can function properly.

(1) SEC(2002) 1287 final.

(2003/C 137 E/191) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3162/02

by W.G. van Velzen (PPE-DE) to the Commission
(5 November 2002)

Subject: Threat to the integrity of networks and the Commission’s role in this connection

1. The sudden disappearance of a company such as KPN Qwest can have serious repercussions for the
operation of infrastructure. Is the Commission aware that there was a threat that the KPN Qwest network
might collapse?