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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/239

Answer given by Mr Byrne on behalf of the Commission

(3 February 2003)

The Commission is aware that cord blood may be stored for the exclusive future use of the concerned
newborn. The Commission recognises that this practice may have implications for the availability of
allogeneic haematopoetic stem cells for patients awaiting such transplantations. As Article 152 of the EC
Treaty specifically excludes Community measures that affect national provisions on the donation or
medical use of blood, only aspects related to the quality and safety of cord blood can be regulated
currently at European level.

This explains the scope of the Directive of the Parliament and of the Council setting standards of the
quality and safety for the collection, testing, processing, storage, and distribution of human blood and
blood components (1) adopted by the Parliament and the Council on 18 December 2002, and the scope of
the proposal for a Directive of the Parliament and of the Council on setting standards of quality and safety
for the donation, procurement, testing, processing, storage, and distribution of human tissues and cells (2)
now under discussion in both Institutions. The Commission can also inform the Honourable Member that,
following its opinion of November 2000 on the ethical aspects of research on human stem cells, the
European Group on Ethics in science and new technologies is planning to start work in 2003, specifically
on the very subject of cord blood storage.

The question related to ‘bundled’ selling falls under the responsibility of the Belgian authorities.

(1) OJ L 33, 8.2.2003.

(2) OJ C 227 E, 24.9.2002.

(2003/C 137 E/270) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3726/02

by Glenys Kinnock (PSE) to the Commission

(19 December 2002)

Subject: Comenius programme

Is the Commission aware that schools wishing to participate in the Comenius programme are experiencing
serious difficulties in finding partners from other EU countries?

Does the Commission intend to take steps to coordinate the exchanges between schools more effectively?

Answer given by Mrs Reding on behalf of the Commission

(27 January 2003)

The Commission is not aware of serious difficulties of this nature arising out of the systems in place. The
feedback received by the Commission so far would indicate that the systems generally operate in a
satisfactory manner.

Comenius 1, the Comenius action relating to school partnerships, has been defined as a decentralised
action in the Decision No 253/2000/EC of the Parliament and the Council of 24 January 2000 establishing
the second phase of the Community action programme in the field of education ‘Socrates’ (1). Thus, the
implementation of decentralised actions is devolved to National Agencies, designated by the national
authorities in the participating countries (2).

These National Agencies have the responsibility to inform the target public about the programme and to
advise institutions on how to find partners abroad. It is the role of the national authorities to see to it that
their National Agency provides the necessary support to interested parties in their country.
C 137 E/240 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.2003

Nevertheless, the Commission is co-financing a number of tools aimed at helping schools to find partner
institutions abroad, such as the Internet database PartBase, as well as the partner search tool in Comenius

(1) OJ L 28, 3.2.2000.

(2) Address of the National Agency in the United Kingdom:
Central Bureau for International Education and Training
British Council
UK  London SW1A 2BN.

(2003/C 137 E/271) WRITTEN QUESTION P-3741/02

by Miet Smet (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(12 December 2002)

Subject: Utilisation of appropriations in line B2-142

The Commission proposes the transfer of 4 000 000 in commitments from Article B2-142 EQUAL to
cover, together with other appropriations, the promotion of the conversion of vessels and of fishermen
that were, up to 1999, dependent on the fishing agreement with Morocco.

The Commission also proposes the transfer of 123 000 000 in payment appropriations to endow, together
with other lines, the EU Solidarity Fund intended for Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic following
the floods which occurred in August of the current year.

Can the Commission indicate, as it confirms that the EQUAL initiative has a surplus, why this situation

Can the Commission confirm that the failure to fully utilise these appropriations is not due to the
Commission’s own off-putting procedures which discourage the potential beneficiaries of this initiative
from utilising these funds?

Can the Commission indicate what means could be employed in order to achieve the purpose for which
the EQUAL initiative is amongst the important EU actions in the field of equality?

Answer given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(23 January 2003)

The transfer of commitment appropriations does not affect any activities under the EQUAL programmes in
the Member States. Instead, it concerns resources allocated to the thematic networks at European level.
These networks are now being set up in a partnership between the Commission, Member States and other
actors in this field. The role of the networks is to analyse and validate the results of the work carried out in
the Development Partnerships. Therefore, it is logical that activities under these networks will only begin
when the results start to come in. Under 2003, it is expected that all thematic networks will be up and

Concerning the transfer of payment appropriations, this is due to the fact that the first phase of EQUAL
(Action 1), involved the setting up of national Development Partnerships and Transnational Partnerships,
i.e. activities that cost only limited amounts of money. The implementation phase (Action 2) of the
EQUAL programmes started in May 2002. With the current system of reimbursement of real costs, it will
inevitably take some time, from the moment the costs are incurred by the final recipients, for the
information to be passed on to Managing Authority, for it to be certified by the Paying Authority, sent to
the Commission, and then for a payment to be made on this basis. Already when the Community Initiative
Programmes were negotiated and adopted it was clear to the Member States and the Commission that the
financial distribution over years did not correspond to the expected execution of the programmes. This
profile was obligatory in order to ensure that the EQUAL budgets were in line with the Financial
Perspective for 2000-2006 adopted at the Berlin European Council in 1999.