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12.6.

2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/231

(2003/C 137 E/261) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3606/02


by Dieter-Lebrecht Koch (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(16 December 2002)

Subject: Motor caravanning

The camping and caravanning industry is a major component of the European tourism industry. It offers
some 18 million overnight stays, i.e. it has substantially more capacity than the traditional hotel industry
which has some 8,7 million beds.

In this connection, one form of holidaymaking which is increasing in scale is that of motor caravanning,
one which is independent of specific locations. While on holiday, motor caravanners frequently use not
campsites but motor caravan sites which may be provided as external units to campsites and leisure parks
or by local authorities seeking to promote urban tourism. In the Member States of the EU, however,
although there are 16 000 campsites, there are no more than about 640 motor caravan sites. The ratio is
somewhat more favourable in Germany. With the quantitative increase in motor caravanning (the number
of motor caravans has risen over the past ten years by almost 70 % and now totals 992 194 vehicles), and
also as a result of demand for better facilities, we may expect an increase in the demand for motor caravan
sites throughout Europe. Above all, motor caravanners’ requirements with regard to greater safety may be
met, provided that the sites are properly equipped. In addition, motor caravan sites generally provide
facilities for water supply and for the disposal of waste water from the vehicle’s sanitary installations
and/or rubbish bins for waste generated during the journey. In this way, motor caravan sites also help to
foster an environmentally sound attitude among motor caravanners. Frequently, the mere indication of
motor caravan sites, with such vehicles being directed to parking spaces with the requisite dimensions,
helps the general traffic flow, since the search for a parking space and the traffic obstruction caused when
these comparatively large vehicles are being parked may be excluded to a very large extent.

To what extent does the Commission intend to take account of this need and establish institutionally
accountable bodies to be responsible for motor caravanning and/or draw up uniform planning projects
and/or lay down guidelines for motor caravan sites?

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(27 January 2003)

The Commission is aware of the importance of camping and caravanning in Europe. According to
Eurostat, the European Union’s Statistical Office, and to information provided by the Member States, the
capacity of campsites in the EU is almost equal to that of hotels and similar facilities. There is no question
that motor caravans account for an increasing share of open-air accommodation, and that they require
suitable sites.

However, institutional or regulatory arrangements in the area of tourism do not fall within the European
Community’s areas of competence. For this reason the Commission is not planning to take any measures
of the kind envisaged by Honourable Member with regard to motor caravanning and motor caravan sites.
Rather, this is a task that Member States should address at a national or regional level, depending on their
own constitutional arrangements.

(2003/C 137 E/262) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3609/02


by Cristiana Muscardini (UEN) to the Commission

(16 December 2002)

Subject: Safeguarding European languages

The London Protocol on Patents, which still being ratified, prompted justified reactions on the part of the
President of the French Senate, who said at Brive on 8 November last ‘we cannot accept the provisions
which would lead to English dominating this strategic sphere’.
C 137 E/232 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.2003

Can the Commission say:

1. whether it took part in drafting the Protocol;

2. whether it is concerned about safeguarding the cultural and linguistic diversity of Europe;

3. whether it does not consider that Europe is enriched by developing the vitality of its cultures rather
than by dull monolingual standardisation?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(28 January 2003)

The Commission would draw attention to its answer of 3 December 2002 to Written Question
No E-3132/02 from Mr Pohjamo (1) in emphasising that the European Patent Organisation (EPO) is not a
Community body, but is completely autonomous and independent of the Community. The Commission’s
involvement in the work of the EPO is therefore that of an observer. More specifically, as an observer and
as part of the Community delegation, the Commission followed the work conducted by the EPO which, on
17 October 2000 at the second intergovernmental conference on the reform of the EPO, led to the
conclusion of a voluntary agreement by the EPO on reducing translation costs (agreement on the
application of Article 65 of the Convention on the grant of European patents, EPC). It should be made
clear that the result of these negotiations has not led to an ‘English only’ system being applied to European
patents.

The Commission shares the Honourable Member’s concern about safeguarding cultural and linguistic
diversity in the Community, particularly in the cultural industries sector.

However, as the Commission stated in its proposal for a Council Regulation on the Community patent (2),
the objective of an affordable Community patent militates in favour of a patent that is valid throughout
the Community in the language in which it was granted under the EPC. In this context, the Commission
noted that the arrangements concerning translations of the patent are a particularly important aspect in
terms of the cost of the current European patent, which is three to five times higher than that of patents in
the EU’s main partner countries (3). It is interesting to note that the translations of current European
patents are very rarely consulted. According to information available to the Commission, less than 2 % of
the translations at the French National Institute for Industrial Property are consulted. Given these
circumstances, the Commission feels that in this highly specialised sector it is essential to ensure that costs
are affordable in order to promote innovation and ensure the competitiveness of European industry.

(1) OJ C 110 E, 8.5.2003, p. 170.


(2) OJ C 337 E, 28.11.2000.
(3) COM(2000) 412 final.

(2003/C 137 E/263) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3610/02


by Jules Maaten (ELDR) to the Commission

(16 December 2002)

Subject: The role of the Netherlands and other EU governments in a possible ban on chocolate cigarettes

1. Is the Commission aware of the European Parliament’s resolution on ‘the prevention of smoking’ (1)?
It calls on the fifteen governments to ban chocolate cigarettes, a traditional present for the feast of St
Nicholas.

2. However, is not this recommendation superfluous, bearing in mind that it has already been decided
within the framework of the World Health Organisation (2) that such presents for children should be
banned and bearing in mind that, when the WHO adopted this approach, it had the support of the
Commission and of the Fifteen, including the Netherlands?