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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?
12.6.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/233

3. Will tobacco consumption really be reduced by such a ban, and should the smuggling of chocolate
cigarettes be prevented? Does the Commission know whether people who do not in person consume them
have problems with slipstream chocolate?

4. Mr Giscard d’Estaing, chairman of the Convention, was recently received in audience by the Pope.
Will the Commission go one better and seek an audience with St Nicholas to ask his assistance in calling
the fifteen unruly governments to order?

(1) Resolution of 21 November 2002.


(2) WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(17 January 2003)

1. The document referred to by the Honourable Member is the ‘Council Recommendation on the
prevention of smoking and on initiatives to improve tobacco control’, which was adopted by the Council
on 2 December 2002. The Parliament prepared an own-initiative report on the Recommendation,
suggesting i. a. the prohibition of cigarette sweets and toys. This suggestion is reflected in the
Recommendation adopted by the Council, which does in fact call on Member States to prohibit the sale
of sweets and toys intended for children and manufactured with the clear intention that the product and/or
packaging would resemble in appearance a type of tobacco product.

2. As mentioned in the question, the draft text of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework
Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) has a similar provision. However, this does not mean that the
relevant provision in the Recommendation is superfluous. The FCTC is being negotiated at present, so the
Commission does not yet know the final text of the Convention, nor who will sign and ratify the
Convention. The Council’s Recommendation therefore gives a positive signal to the negotiating process on
this issue, and will hopefully encourage the Parties to the FCTC to adopt a similar provision, which would
then be implemented at a global level.

3. As a general remark, the Commission would like to stress the importance of a comprehensive
tobacco control policy as a public health priority. This is especially important as regards the protection of
children and young people from the marketing activities of the tobacco industry, and cigarette toys and
sweets may very well entice children to try the ‘real’ product at a later stage. The focus of the provision,
therefore, is to protect young people from ruthless marketing activities.

4. The Commission is in fact in close contact with Mr ‘Zwarte Piet’ in the secretariat of St Nicolas and
has suggested ‘pepernoten’ as a suitable alternative for children, but so far no meeting has been confirmed.

(2003/C 137 E/264) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3634/02


by Miquel Mayol i Raynal (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(17 December 2002)

Subject: Association Agreement between the EU and Chile and respect for the rights of the Mapuche
people

On 18 November, an association agreement was signed between the EU and Chile. It includes a clause
concerning respect for human rights. The second point in the chapter devoted to political dialogue states
that ‘The main objective of the political dialogue […] is the promotion, dissemination, further development
and common defence of democratic values, such as the respect for human rights […]’.

Chile is the only country in the whole of Latin America which does not recognise the existence of
indigenous peoples. Their rights  particularly those of the Mapuche people  are far from being
respected and protected. Moreover, the Chilean Government refuses to ratify the International Labour
Organisation’s Convention 169 of 1989 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples. The police have
committed numerous acts of arbitrary violence against Mapuche communities, and these acts have often
gone unpunished.