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C 205 E/140 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 29.8.

2002

The last annual report currently available (1998) shows that public expenditure on the ‘Tourism’ sub-
programme in the 1994-1999 programming period amounted to € 45 million, 44 % of total public
expenditure on the programme. Further information provided by the Greek authorities early in 2000 puts
public expenditure at € 61 million, which represents absorption of public expenditure at about 65 %
compared with the last decision to amend the programme, taken on 6 May 2000. The final position with
regard to this sub-programme can only be established on the basis of the closing report from the Greek
authorities, which will give exact figures for the years 1999 to 2001.

This means that the Commission is at present unable check compliance with all the commitments given by
the Greek authorities in respect of these projects, including the completion of works and the concession to
the private sector of the construction of land facilities and the general management of the marinas. It has,
however, asked those authorities to provide it with full information on the implementation of measure 1,1
‘Maritime tourism’ in this operational programme.

(2002/C 205 E/151) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0433/02


by Rijk van Dam (EDD) and Albert Maat (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(21 February 2002)

Subject: Requirement for fishing vessels flying the Belgian flag to have an economic link

By Royal Decree of 3 February 1999, the Belgian Government laid down a requirement for fishing vessels
flying the Belgian flag to have an effective economic link with the coastal region of Belgium. In practice,
this means that either a minimum of 50 % of the crew must come from the Belgian coastal region or a
substantial proportion of the catch must be landed at Belgian ports or sold through Belgian auctions.

The Belgian Government notified the Commission of this decree at the draft stage, and the Commission
approved it, as its provisions accorded with the judgment given by the Court of Justice of the EC
recognising the right of Member States to require that vessels flying their flag should have an ‘effective
economic link’ with the Member State concerned.

On the other hand, the Court of Justice ruled against the imposition of requirements to use local auctions
and to take on local crew members. Moreover, the Commission has taken action against a requirement by
Dutch quota management groups that their members sell their catches at Dutch fish auctions.

In its answer to previous questions (E-2205/00 and P-2236/00) (1), the Commission said that it would keep
Parliament informed about the processing of a complaint by Dutch ship-owners about the above
requirement. So far (18 months on) the Commission has not given the European Parliament any
information about how this complaint is being dealt with.

1. Why has the Commission failed to do this? What stage has the complaint procedure reached, and
what action does the Commission intend to take as a result of it?

2. What is the Commission’s policy on the imposition of national auction requirements? Does the
Commission differentiate between auction requirements in the light of whether they are imposed
nationally or privately? If so, why, and if not, why are Dutch quota management groups being treated
differently to the Belgian authorities?

(1) OJ C 89 E, 20.3.2001, p. 160.

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(11 April 2002)

The complaint in question was made to the Commission by a group of owners of fishing vessels flying the
Belgian flag. The Commission is still dealing with it.
29.8.2002 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 205 E/141

Member States are entitled to require vessels flying their flag to have an ‘effective economic link’ with their
coast. The complaint is over Belgium’s application of this requirement. A vessel owner may choose several
different ways (or a combination of ways) of meeting this requirement: residence of a significant part of
the crew in the coastal area, landing and/or sale of a determined proportion of catches in the
Member State’s ports, departure of a significant percentage of the fishing trips from the Member State’s
ports with purchase of the vessel’s supplies in them, etc. The Court of Justice has by its decisions set limits
to the scope of such rules so that Community law is not infringed.

In its first assessment the Commission considered that the requirement was being applied by Belgium in a
way that did in fact infringe Community law. On 11 April 2001 it formally notified Belgium by letter of
this finding.

The Belgian authorities communicated their observations in a letter of 15 June. The Commission was due
to decide what follow-up action it wished to take when examining the second half-yearly report on
infringements for 2001. On 5 October 2001 it received from Belgium a letter containing further
observations to which were attached very recent judgments by the Belgian courts relating to the matter in
dispute. It thought it important to analyse this additional information, which meant that a decision could
not be taken in the course of examining the second report for 2001.

Consideration of the case has therefore been deferred to the first report for 2002, i.e. to July 2002.

The Commission adopts the same approach to obligations imposed by public authorities and by private
groupings. Its task is to watch over respect for Community law and it strives to bring about the cessation
of detected infringements whatever the status of the offender. In these functions it is subject to rules of
procedure set by the EC Treaty and the secondary legislation.

It is this spirit that has informed two separate procedures, initiated by different Commission Directorates-
General, one concerning the ‘effective economic link’ problem mentioned above and the other the
requirement imposed on Dutch fishermen by their management groups to sell all their catches at Dutch
auction markets. Each procedure has been in line with the relevant provisions, in the case of the former
those of Article 226(2) of the EC Treaty and in the case of the latter the specific provisions of Article 81 of
the Treaty on agreements between undertakings and concerted practices. That procedure has now been
closed following the management group’s withdrawal of the obligation to sell at Dutch auction markets
but the first procedure is still in progress.

The Commission will inform the Honourable Members of the position it adopts.

The Commission publishes recent infringement decisions on the Europa site: http://europa.eu.int/comm/
secretariat_general/sgb/droit_com/index_en.htm#infringements. The information is regularly updated,
notably following each periodical report on confirmed and possible infringements.

(2002/C 205 E/152) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0442/02


by Samuli Pohjamo (ELDR) to the Commission

(12 February 2002)

Subject: Study of regional policy in Arctic regions

The Commission’s recent progress report on economic and social cohesion (1) highlights the fact that the
Commission is undertaking studies of regions suffering from permanent natural handicaps. It is also
organising a number of seminars to consider the problems of these regions.