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C 155 E/164 Official Journal of the European Union EN 3.7.

2003

3. How could the Commission ensure the quality of public works jointly funded by the EU at the stage
before construction?

4. By what other method or what other means could the Commission act to ensure transparency, the
reliability of the system for executing the works and the avoidance of substandard work in Greece, the
consequence of which may be to endanger the lives of members of the public?

5. Has the special committee for monitoring Community projects (ESPEL) submitted reports which have
identified substandard work in Greece and, if so, have the relevant sanctions been imposed?

Answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission

(27 January 2003)

1. The matter of imposing sanctions in the light of accidents or other events is a responsibility which
lies in the hands of the national authorities. The Commission is not informed of such matters.

2. The detailed list of construction projects carried out in Greece and cofinanced by Community funds,
for which substandard work has been detected, is established and held by the competent services of the
Member State. The European Anti Fraud Office (OLAF) is kept informed by the national authorities about
matters relating to the misuse of Community funds including construction projects where serious faults
have been detected and which cannot be repaired without partially or totally reconstructing the project
(so-called category iii projects).

3. As provided for in the third Community Support Framework (2000-2006), the Greek authorities
prepared an action plan in 2002 for the next steps towards improving public works, which provides also
for a radical reform to improve the design system. This reform should further contribute to the
improvement of the quality of public works, when implemented. The Commission is preparing its
comments on these proposals and will forward it shortly to the Greek government.

An enhanced national system to control the quality of public works executed or under way should also be
an important part of this effort. The Commission wrote to the Greek authorities in December 2002 asking
to be informed about the new Ministerial Decision which is being prepared to govern quality control
procedures.

4. Although the primary responsibility lies with the national authorities, the Commission services
maintain a system of individual on-the-spot checks on projects cofinanced by Community funds in Greece.
The objective is to ensure that Community resources are used correctly in accordance with the regulation
in force.

5. The Quality Control Consultant (ESPEL) submits its reports to the competent Greek authorities. In
the light of the reports of ESPEL, it is the role of these authorities to decide the measures that are
necessary, including sanctions, where this is required by legislation in force. The European Anti Fraud
Office is regularly informed by the Greek authorities on ESPEL findings for category iii projects and their
follow-up.

(2003/C 155 E/183) WRITTEN QUESTION P-3534/02


by Brice Hortefeux (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(3 December 2002)

Subject: Linguistic diversity

Cultural and linguistic diversity is often put forward as one of Europe’s major strong points. The Union’s
hallmark is multilingualism, unlike any other world power, today or yesterday, all of which were based on
a common, if not actually a single language. The EU currently has 11 official languages.
3.7.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 155 E/165

The reality, however is, that a phenomenon called ‘simplification’ is more and more frequent, namely the
reduction in practice of the number of official languages which are also used as working languages. And
yet the cost of multilingualism is not exorbitant: for 11 languages, it is 1 % of the EU’s budget, that is,
EUR 2,7 per citizen per annum.

It needs to be stressed that the EU is not a private company, obliged to minimise spending at all costs. It is
a political edifice funded on law and democracy. One of the practical preconditions for a democratic
debate is the right of all European citizens to take part, using their own languages. The price that has to be
paid is part of the price of democracy, just like the cost of European elections, which no one is talking
about ‘simplifying’ or eliminating.

More alarming still is the news published in ‘La Quinzaine européenne’ of 18 November 2002, claiming
that Commission President Romano Prodi and Commissioner Günter Verheugen have given orders that all
accession negotiations are to be held in English, to the general astonishment of certain candidate countries
such as Bulgaria, which apparently reminded them that both French and German are equally widely used
in government circles in Sofia.

Given these very disturbing facts, can the Commission provide some clarification with regard to the
published claims and, more generally, can it state its own position on this issue?

Answer given by Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission

(16 January 2003)

The Commission shares the commitment of the Honourable Member as regards the fundamental principles
and objectives of the language regime in the Union.

Enlargement will strengthen the diversity of languages. European citizens from 25 Member States will be
able to use their own language in contacts with the European Institutions.

The Commission can assure the Honourable Member that neither President Prodi nor the Member of the
Commission responsible for Enlargement have ever ‘given orders’ that all accession negotiations are to be
held in English.

Accession conferences are intergovernmental conferences. As a consequence, the language regime for these
conferences is determined by the representatives of participating States and not by the Commission.

In the Commission’s experience of the accession negotiations at different levels, there has not been any
restriction of the language regime to English or any other official language of the European Union and all
official languages of the Union have been available for use.

(2003/C 155 E/184) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3546/02


by Michel-Ange Scarbonchi (GUE/NGL) to the Council

(11 December 2002)

Subject: Creation of a fleet of European coastguard ships

After the sinking of the Erika, the Prestige oil spill on 19 November 2002 off the coast of Galicia, Spain
has shown us the serious inadequacies in the control and monitoring of ships at sea.

The Commission must act as quickly as possible in the face of environmental disasters like these. The
decision taken at the Franco-Spanish Summit in Malaga, in accordance with Article 56 of the United
Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, to limit access for the most dangerous oil tankers to the
exclusive economic zone (EEZ), less than 200 nautical miles (360 km) from the coast, gives cause for
hope.