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22. 1.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 21/59

(98/C 21/146) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1485/97


by Mihail Papayannakis (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(30 April 1997)

Subject: Innovative pharmaceutical products

In reply to Question E-2093/95 (1), Commissioner Bangemann stated that the committee set up under Directive
89/105/EEC (2) had instructed a working party to investigate the question of unusually high prices for innovative
products and to clarify certain concepts such as ‘innovative pharmaceutical products’ and ‘excessive prices’.

Has the working party given its opinion on the above matters? If so, what is the definition of ‘innovative
pharmaceutical products’ and of ‘excessive prices’?

(1) OJ C 311, 22.11.1995, p. 33.


(2) OJ L 40, 11.2.1989, p. 8.

Answer given by Mr Bangemann on behalf of the Commission


(11 June 1997)

The committee set up under Directive 89/105/EEC (1) (the transparency committee) instructed a working party to
examine the question of excessive prices of innovative medicines. That working party has met three times and
has considered a paper produced by the Danish competition authorities about the pricing and reimbursement of a
particular product within the Community. It has been possible to use data collected over a period of time to note
the impact of different public health policies, and the effect of currency movements on the use of innovative
medicines. During the working party discussions, it has been clear that the subject cannot easily be separated
from the broader question of developing pricing and reimbursement strategies for all pharmaceutical products
which reconcile objectives in health and industrial policy with progress towards a single european market in the
pharmaceutical sector. It has also been clear that the definition of terms such as ‘innovative’ and ‘excessive
prices’ is closely linked to approaches taken to these broader issues.

Accordingly discussion has been subsumed for the time being within the process launched at the round table in
Frankfurt in December 1996. Informal working parties involving representatives of industry as well as the
governments of Member States are studying possible solutions to the full range of issues, including the pricing of
innovative products. The transparency committee is involved in taking forward the matter at all stages, and will
decide on the future of the working party following the second round table, to be held in December 1997.

(1) OJ L 40, 11.2.1989.

(98/C 21/147) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1489/97


by Salvador Garriga Polledo (PPE) to the Council
(30 April 1997)

Subject: Structural funds

Is it possible under the Treaty on European Union that structural funds might be used to finance specific
operations in non-Union countries?

If so, what restrictions apply to such financing?

Answer
(6 August 1997)

As the Honourable Member will probably know, the Treaty establishing the European Community provides that
the Structural Funds shall support the Community’s action to strengthen its economic and social cohesion.
C 21/60 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 22. 1. 98

The tasks of the funds relating to the Community internally are specified in various Articles of the Treaty.

The Structural Funds do, however, participate in the financing of cross-border and inter-regional cooperation
programmes with third countries in conjunction with other financial instruments such as PHARE, MEDA and
TACIS.

(98/C 21/148) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1492/97


by Raimo Ilaskivi (PPE) to the Commission
(30 April 1997)

Subject: Dealing with changing economic circumstances under EMU

Against the current background of high unemployment in many countries, strict compliance with the
convergence criteria for EMU can easily reduce virtually to zero the scope for national measures to boost the
economy. The single currency will make exchange rate policies a thing of the past, interest rate policies will be
laid down by the joint central bank: these, and many other things, will be facts of life once the third stage of EMU
has come into force. The rules laying down the maximum percentages for the budget deficit and public debt and
the fines which will be imposed should they be exceeded will make an active budget policy to deal with
exceptional national circumstances or requirements impossible.

What measures do the Commission and, at the latter’s suggestion, the Council intend to take to ensure that budget
deficits and public debts are considered in the light of all the prevailing circumstances and not just on the basis of
the situation at a given moment, since only in this way can the Member States be guaranteed at least some scope
to deal with changing economic circumstances and, in particular, fight unemployment? Only budget policy
measures will be possible.

Answer given by Mr de Silguy on behalf of the Commission


(12 June 1997)

The Commission is aware of the importance of taking into account all relevant information, including the phase
of the business cycle, when assessing a Member State’s budgetary performance. For this reason, the Treaty and
the stability and growth pact allow a public deficit of 3% of gross domestic product or, in case of exceptional and
temporary circumstances such as a severe recession, an even higher deficit. Provided that in normal
circumstances a Member State aims at balanced public finances, this will provide an ample buffer for recession
and allow for countercyclical budgetary policies. Hence, the Commission sees no conflict between active
budgetary policies and the Treaty’s requirement of sound public finances.

(98/C 21/149) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1495/97


by Antoine-François Bernardini (PSE) to the Commission
(30 April 1997)

Subject: Fares on the Thalys

A problem has arisen with regard to the Thalys rail service between Paris and Brussels.

Large families have not been able to obtain special reductions on Thalys since the service started on 2 June 1996.
They are therefore forced to purchase tickets which offer far less flexibility and are more expensive. For
instance, the ‘mini’ fare is available for only 80 seats for which tickets are put on sale 60 days in advance, and the
‘loisir’ fare represents a 36% increase in the fare for a family with three children.

Is it to be concluded that the EEIG responsible for operating the Thalys service is exempt from public service
obligations?

Does the above situation not constitute blatant discrimination and a barrier to the free movement of persons?