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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 155 E/45

(2003/C 155 E/051) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2716/02

by Cristiana Muscardini (UEN) to the Commission

(26 September 2002)

Subject: Nickel and the euro

The journal ‘Nature’ has published a study by the University of Zurich revealing that EUR 1 and EUR 2
coins may contain levels of nickel 240 to 320 times greater than the limits allowed under European law.
Apparently, sweat on the hands may produce a reaction which affects the alloy and causes allergies.

1. Will the Commission say whether this information is correct?

2. If so, does it intend to amend the relevant directive or declare illegal the two coins which fail to
comply with it?

3. What steps will it take to prevent the spread of a further allergy among Union citizens?

Answer given by Mr Solbes Mira on behalf of the Commission

(25 October 2002)

The Commission can confirm that a new study was published in the magazine ‘Nature’ on 12 September
2002, in which scientists from the University of Zurich claim that the release of nickel from bi-colour euro
coins can be up to 240-320 times the limit stipulated by Directive 94/27/EC of the Parliament and of the
Council, of 30 June 1994 (hereafter ‘Nickel Directive’) amending Directive 76/769/EEC on the
approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to
restrictions on the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances and preparations (1).

This conclusion drawn by the authors is misleading, because the Nickel Directive refers to objects that
come into direct and prolonged contact with the human skin, such as jewellery or wristwatches. This
Directive does not cover coins. Secondly, the results were generated by sticking EUR 1 and EUR 2 coins to
the skin of patients with a known nickel allergy for 48-72 hours. After this period they showed an allergic
reaction. As these conditions clearly do not reflect the normal use of the euro coins, the Commission does
not see the need for action either with regard to the euro coins or with regard to the Nickel Directive.

The recent publication does not change the Commission’s view that the normal use of euro coins does not
represent a risk for European citizens. The Commission is not aware of any particular cases of patients
suffering from nickel allergy which can be traced back to the handling or use of EUR 1 and EUR 2 coins
coins. Additionally, there is no scientific evidence of a recent increase in nickel allergies among European

These conclusions were confirmed by a recent independent study, which showed that the amount of nickel
released from the EUR 1 and EUR 2 coins is significantly lower than from the national coins used prior to
the introduction of the euro.

(1) OJ L 188, 22.7.1994.

(2003/C 155 E/052) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2739/02

by Emmanouil Bakopoulos (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(30 September 2002)

Subject: Variations in the price of cars in the EU

In its report on the price of cars in the European Union, the Commission noted the consistent variation in
the price of new cars. The Commission’s study shows that Greece is one of the most competitive Member
C 155 E/46 Official Journal of the European Union EN 3.7.2003

States before tax for smaller cars. Unfortunately, however, for powerful ‘luxury’ models, Greece is the most
expensive Member State both before and after tax. According to the Commission’s tables, for example, in
order to buy an Alfa Romeo 156 2.0 TS 16V, a Greek citizen has to pay some 40 % more than a Belgian
citizen. Can the Commission explain what measures it will take to reduce this significant disparity within
the Union?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(4 November 2002)

The six-monthly report on price differentials between cars in the European Union, the latest issue of which
was published on 22 July 2002 (1), regularly draws attention to price differentials between Member States
resulting from the strategies pursued by different manufacturers. This situation shows that there is too little
competition between dealers supplying the same type of car within the Union. Accordingly, the
Commission has made significant amendments to the applicable competition rules. On 31 July 2002, it
adopted Regulation (EC) No 1400/2002 on the motor vehicle sector (2), which entered into force on
1 October 2002, following the expiry of the previous regulation (3). The regulation provides for several
measures exercising competitive pressure on price differentials relating to the same make of car within the
single market, such as the differential referred to above.

In particular, the regulation stipulates that block exemptions do not apply to distribution agreements
which restrict sales of new private cars by retail dealers to final users who request them, irrespective of
their place of residence. In the case in point, this means that any obstacle, whether direct or indirect, to the
sale of a private car to a Greek consumer wishing to purchase it in Belgium, either personally or through
an intermediary empowered to make such a purchase, would be incompatible with the regulation. Nor do
block exemptions cover restrictions on deliveries between dealers. This means that car manufacturers
cannot object if Greek dealers decide to buy their stock from Belgian dealers. Finally, as of 1 October
2005, the regulation will not cover any restrictions on the establishment of sales points or vehicle supply
points where selective distribution is in force. In the case in point, if such a system were to be applied in
Belgium and Greece, Belgian dealers would be free to set up a sales point, or a supply point in Greece to
supply vehicles ordered by Greek consumers.

As in the past, the Commission will ensure compliance with these vehicle distribution rules and will,
where necessary, take legal action against any violations of competition law which are liable to deprive
European consumers of the benefits of the single market.

(1) See press release IP/02/1109 of 22.7.2002.

(2) Commission Regulation (EC) No 1400/2002 of 31 July 2002 on the application of Article 81(3) of the Treaty to
categories of vertical agreements and concerted practices in the motor vehicle sector  OJ L 203, 1.8.2002.
(3) Commission Regulation (EC) No 1475/95 of 28 June 1995 on the application of Article 85 (3) of the Treaty to
certain categories of motor vehicle distribution and servicing agreements  OJ L 145, 29.6.1995.

(2003/C 155 E/053) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2752/02

by Joan Colom i Naval (PSE) to the Commission

(25 September 2002)

Subject: Budget execution of Category 2 of the financial perspective in 2002

The Commission has stated that as at 12 September 2002 a total of EUR 1 501 million in commitment
appropriations had not yet been committed.

Does the Commission believe it is possible to ensure execution of the EUR 1 330 million corresponding to
the Cohesion Fund before the end of the budget year?