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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/241

(2003/C 137 E/272) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3760/02

by Gerhard Schmid (PSE) to the Commission

(23 December 2002)

Subject: Taxation of food products containing a toy

In Germany, a reduced VAT of 7 % is applied to food. Steps are being taken, however, to tax so-called
combined items consisting of food and toys (e.g. surprise eggs) at the full 16 % in the future.

In the light of this, can the Commission state:

1. In which Member States of the European Union these combined items are classed as food and in
which as toys?

2. On the basis of what Community legislation Member States are allowed to carry out their own
classification of combined items?

Answer given by Mr Bolkestein on behalf of the Commission

(3 February 2003)

The Community provisions on VAT currently in force are contained in the sixth VAT Directive (1). As
Directives are not directly applicable, the Member States have to transpose their contents into national law
and, where necessary, introduce provisions for their practical implementation.

Under Article 12(3) of the sixth VAT Directive, toys are subject to the normal minimum rate of 15 % while
Member States have the option of applying a reduced rate which must not be more than 5 % lower than
the rate applying to foodstuffs.

However, this Community legislation does not provide for any special measures regarding supplies of
combined goods sold at a single price. Under the subsidiarity principle, the fact that the provisions in
question are of an implementing nature means that it is up to the Member States to decide how goods of
this type should be treated from the point of view of VAT case by case.

The Commission has no precise information about how the Member States have resolved this matter in
their national legislation.

(1) Council Directive 2002/92/EC of 3 December 2002 amending Directive 77/388/EEC to extend the facility allowing
Member States to apply reduced rates of VAT to certain labour-intensive services, OJ L 331, 7.12.2002.

(2003/C 137 E/273) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3764/02

by Bill Miller (PSE) to the Commission

(23 December 2002)

Subject: European Social Fund

In many EU countries asylum-seekers and immigrants do not have the right to gain employment,
therefore, they cannot participate in any ESF-funded course, as they are not allowed to work. Is this a
formal EU rule or a Member State criterion?
C 137 E/242 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.2003

Answer given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(30 January 2003)

There is no Community rule governing the specific access of asylum seekers and immigrants to European
Social Fund (ESF) funded courses. If any particular group or individual is excluded from ESF assistance it
will arise from national legislation in the Member State concerned regarding access to the labour market.

Participation in ESF-funded activities is governed by the Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 of 21 June
1999 laying down general provisions on the Structural Funds (1) in general and the Regulation (EC)
No 1784/1999 of the Parliament and of the Council of 12 July 1999 on the European Social Fund (2) in
particular. ESF assistance is open to all individuals granted access to the labour market.

Access to the labour market is a matter of national law only. Certain Member States do not allow asylum
seekers or certain immigrants to work.

In certain Member States asylum seekers are excluded from access to the labour market. However, the
absence of the right to work should not necessarily exclude them from ESF assistance. The Structural
Funds Regulations allow asylum seekers to follow ESF-funded training to prepare them for eventual
integration into the labour market. Projects assisting asylum seekers to prepare for the labour market can
be funded by EQUAL, the Community Initiative which promotes new means to tackle all forms of labour
market discrimination. Combating discrimination against asylum seekers in the labour market is one of the
thematic priorities of EQUAL. The nature of the specific actions depends on whether asylum seekers are
allowed to work in that Member State.

If immigrants have the right to work, ESF assistance should be open to them in the same way as it is to
Union nationals. If not, then they would not generally be entitled to ESF assistance.

(1) OJ L 161, 26.6.1999.

(2) OJ L 213, 13.8.1999.

(2003/C 137 E/274) WRITTEN QUESTION P-3852/02

by Christopher Beazley (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(23 December 2002)

Subject: Employment of non-national EU citizens in national museums

It is the practice in some Member States to refuse employment to non-national EU citizens in national
museums. Is this in conflict with the Single Market undertaking of their governments, and what action will
the Commission put in hand to rectify the problem?

Answer given by Mrs Diamantopoulou on behalf of the Commission

(30 January 2003)

The Commission is not aware of the difficulties of Union nationals who have been refused employment in
national museums of Member States other than their Member State of origin.

According to Community law, Member States are allowed to restrict to their own nationals those posts in
which the exercise of public authority and the responsibility for safeguarding the general interest of the
State is involved (Article 39(4) of the EC Treaty). The derogation from the general principle of EC Treaty of
free movement of workers has been interpreted in a very restrictive way by the European Court of Justice
and the Commission has actively promoted increased access to the public sector, and continues to do
so (1).