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C 137 E/216 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.

2003

(2003/C 137 E/243) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3489/02


by Charles Tannock (PPE-DE)
and Theresa Villiers (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(9 December 2002)

Subject: The Commission’s attempts to reduce labour rigidities and the Agency Workers Directive

Does the Commission believe that the Agency Workers Directive will have a beneficial or damaging effect
on labour rigidities in the European Union? In particular, does the Commission believe that the Directive
will enhance or reduce flexibility for employees and, in particular, for those women who wish to work, but
who need employment flexibility in order to balance conflicting calls on their time?

Answer given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(19 December 2002)

Many studies raise concerns over the working conditions of temporary agency workers. Temporary agency
work appears to be associated with especially precarious working conditions.

The proposed Directive formulates a general framework for the working conditions of temporary agency
workers across Europe. Its main objective is to improve the security of agency workers while at the same
time giving greater flexibility to enterprises. The Directive will improve the security of agency workers and
make sure that they do not face any disadvantages. By providing a general framework for the working
conditions of agency workers, it should increase the attractiveness of the sector and the number of workers
who choose this kind of work in particular for the flexibility involved. At the same time, this should give
more choice to user firms and allow them to better meet their needs for flexibility. The Directive therefore
puts in place a framework for the further expansion of the sector, and will contribute to fully realising its
employment potential and to improving the functioning of the labour market.

(2003/C 137 E/244) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3490/02


by Bill Newton Dunn (ELDR), Imelda Read (PSE), Phillip Whitehead (PSE),
Roger Helmer (PPE-DE), Christopher Heaton-Harris (PPE-DE)
and Nicholas Clegg (ELDR) to the Commission

(9 December 2002)

Subject: Eligibility of county councils for funding under the EU town-twinning programme

Due to the differences between the structure of local government in the UK and in continental Europe it
appears that county councils are not eligible to receive EU funding for twinning activities under Action A
because they are not considered to be ‘municipalities’, whereas European municipalities currently do
receive these funds. However county councils are not only direct providers of services, but are also heavily
involved in twinning activities.

Can the Commission make allowances for the differences between the local government structures in the
UK and those in continental Europe and ensure that UK county councils can become eligible for EU
twinning funds?
12.6.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/217

Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission

(21 January 2003)

The town-twinning scheme is based on Budget line A-321. According to the budgetary comments the
credit is targeted to promote twinnings between towns in the Union as well as twinnings between towns in
the Union and towns in the candidate countries.

The current procedure for town-twinning grants is that of a call for proposals, published annually in the
Official Journal of the European Communities.

Currently, two kinds of actions are funded under the scheme:

(a) meetings of citizens of twinned towns and municipalities,

(b) conferences on European themes relating to twinning, and training and information seminars for
town-twinning officers.

Part a is aimed at contributing directly to meetings of citizens between towns and municipalities.
Consequently, it is targeted exclusively to towns and municipalities, and not to secondary tiers of local
government (such as County Councils in the UK or in Sweden or Kreise in Germany).

Part b of the scheme is aimed at contributing more indirectly to twinning arrangements by involving key
multipliers from towns and municipalities in thematic and training events. Consequently, it is also targeted
at various organisations involved in these activities (local and regional authorities, associations and
federations of local authorities). This category also provides the secondary tiers of local government with
proper opportunities to benefit from the twinning scheme.

The Commission is aware of the diversity concerning the structures of local government in Europe.
All Member States are treated on the same basis and British counties are not disadvantaged in comparison
to equivalent structures in other Member States.

(2003/C 137 E/245) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3491/02


by Renzo Imbeni (PSE) to the Commission

(9 December 2002)

Subject: Adapting the occupation of customs agent in response to EU enlargement

EU enlargement will lead to the abolition of customs formalities relating to trade with the new countries,
which will then be part of the Union. Will the Commission say whether or not such abolition will be
gradual and whether or not customs documents will continue to be issued in respect of trade with those
countries, such as the T2 form for goods under the internal Community transit scheme which are
transported across one of the countries concerned?

If there is to be wholesale abolition of customs formalities, is the Commission intending to submit to the
Council a proposal for a regulation laying down Community flanking measures for the benefit of customs
agents, including special initiatives additional to the Structural Fund measures?

Answer given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(21 January 2003)

The Honourable Member is referred to the answer given by the Commission to written question
E-2488/02 from Mr G. Lisi.