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Official Journal of the European Union

C 222 E/113

As regards international tariffs, this process has brought a 40 % reduction in tariffs charged by the traditional operator in the 1998-2002 period. Moreover, data provided by the last report on the Implementation of the Telecommunications Regulatory Package (1) show that the number of operators using carrier selection and preselection for international calls is 412 and 272 respectively. In some cases, according to the implementation report, alternative operators offer discounts of up to 65 % ad compared to incumbents’ tariffs. The new regulatory framework aims at bringing a higher level of competition in the sector at the benefit of consumers in terms of tariffs and quality. The new Regulation will enable national regulatory authorities to analyse and assess the market and to impose appropriate regulation where the market is found not to be competitive. Only where there is an absence of effective competition will there be any regulatory obligations. Where there are existing regulatory obligations they must be withdrawn unless the market is found not to be competitive. Regarding this, the difference between local and long-distance calls has already blurred in some Member States. Likewise, current legislation does not prevent operators from deciding to offer a single tariff for calls to other Member States, provided that it respects the conditions for a free competition market. However, there are economic reasons why international and national rates differ from each other, in particular the difference in the underlying costs and the problems related to tariff unbalances. Even in integrated economies such as the American telephone operators charge different prices depending on where the call originates and on the State it terminates. This does not seem to have an impact on the sense of citizenship, while it ensures that telephone operators are not forced to make losses permanently. Consequently, the legal framework for the development of a truly single market for telephone calls between Member States is already in place and it will progressively develop full effects through the mechanisms provided by the new regime applicable to the telecommunications markets as described above.
(1) COM(2002) 695 final.

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WRITTEN QUESTION E-3819/02 by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission (9 January 2003)

Subject: Evasion of rules on driving hours and rest periods in international road haulage, taking advantage of the fact that data concerning days off are only checked in the home Member State 1. Is the Commission aware of the investigation by the Netherlands judicial authorities into the widespread evasion of the rules on driving hours and rest periods for haulage companies’ drivers which is made possible because some employers always give their drivers documentation indicating that they have been free on one or more of the preceding days, so that the data recorded by the tachograph on the days in question do not have to be shown when a check is made? 2. Is the Commission aware that these breaches of the rules are encouraged because haulage companies have an interest in being able to deliver perishable goods such as fruit, vegetables and flowers to distant destinations quickly, using as few staff as possible, while drivers, some of whom drive for 100 or 120 hours per week for weeks at a time, earn more than they would if they only drove the maximum permitted number of hours? 3. Can the Commission confirm that so far there is no comprehensive system for performing the same amount of effective supervision in international transport as in domestic road haulage, because no checks are made, or can be made, as to whether an employee of a foreign business was genuinely off work on the days concerned? 4. Is the Commission aware of incidents involving haulage companies based in other EU Member States similar to those which have recently come to light in the Netherlands?

C 222 E/114

Official Journal of the European Union



5. Is the Commission aware of similar instances relating to haulage companies based in the applicant countries? 6. How can the Commission help to make checks on driving hours watertight, including those of drivers working for businesses based in a Member State other than that where a check is performed, so that evasion of the rules becomes impossible and international road haulage no longer gives rise to particular dangers because drivers’ reactions are impaired or they even fall asleep due to exhaustion forced upon them by falsification of records concerning driving hours? Source: ‘De Volkskrant’ Dutch daily paper, 12 December 2002.

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission (13 February 2003) The Commission has not been aware of the Dutch Justice Ministry’s inquiry into offences against Community driving time and rest period rules. Regarding the issue of fake letters giving time off, the Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its answer given to Written Question P-3827/02 by Mr Bowman (1). In addition, the Commission can confirm that as there is no Community legislation regulating such certifying letters, their acceptance by enforcement officers in the different Member States is purely discretionary. There is currently no requirement on Member States either to collect statistics or take a stance on this issue. As far as data on compliance, infringements, checks and sanctions are concerned, the Commission draws up a biennial report on the implementation of the Regulation (2). This report only covers Member States, not Candidate Countries. So far, Member States have not raised the issue of fake letters as a problem within the context of their contributions to the Report. The introduction of the electronic tachograph in 2004 and improved checking operations are the way forward to enhance the enforcement efficiency, as indicated in the answer given to the above mentioned written question.
(1) OJ C 161 E, 10.7.2003, p. 150. (2) COM(2001) 767 final: Report from the Commission on the implementation in 1997-1998 of Regulation (EEC) No 3820/85 on the harmonisation of certain social legislation relating to road transport.

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WRITTEN QUESTION P-3822/02 by Pasqualina Napoletano (PSE) to the Council (20 December 2002)

Subject: Asylum rights in the Union On 28 November 2002 the Italian authorities repatriated Mr Muhammad al Shari and his family, from Malpensa airport to Syria, despite the existence of a death sentence against him. The Italian Constitution states that persons sentenced to the death penalty in countries where that penalty is in force shall not be extradited. The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union states that ‘no-one shall be condemned to the death penalty, or executed’, and also underwrites the right of asylum on the basis of the Geneva Convention and the protocol of 31 January 1967. Meanwhile, negotiations are currently in course between the EU and Syria for an association agreement. Does the Council not consider it necessary to intervene to ensure that the death sentence is not carried out and that the physical integrity of Mr Muhammad al Shari and his family is not put at risk?