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B6-0396/2008

Dezbateri :

PV 03/09/2008 - 15
CRE 03/09/2008 - 15

Voturi :

PV 04/09/2008 - 7.5
CRE 04/09/2008 - 7.5

Texte adoptate :


Dezbateri
Miercuri, 3 septembrie 2008 - Bruxelles Ediţie revizuită

15. Timpul afectat întrebărilor (întrebări adresate Comisiei)
Înregistrare video a intervenţiilor
PV
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  Presidente. − Segue-se o período de perguntas (B6-0457/2008).

Foram apresentadas as seguintes perguntas à Comissão.

Primeira parte

 
  
  

Primeira parte

 
  
  

Pergunta n.º 35 do Deputado Stavros Arnaoutakis (H-0546/08)

Assunto: Crises alimentares na UE e protecção do consumidor europeu

Depois das repetidas crises alimentares na Europa, decidiu a Comissão medidas concretas para a protecção eficaz do consumidor?

 
  
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  Ανδρούλα Βασιλείου, Μέλος της Επιτροπής. − Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κατ’ αρχήν θα ήθελα να ευχαριστήσω τον κύριο Αρναουτάκη για την ερώτησή του για το πάντα επίκαιρο θέμα της διατροφικής ασφάλειας.

Η Επιτροπή έχει πολλούς τρόπους διασφάλισης της προστασίας του καταναλωτή και ευρωπαίου πολίτη από πιθανή διατροφική κρίση. Πρώτα απ’ όλα, μέσω του συστήματος έγκαιρης προειδοποίησης για τα τρόφιμα και τις ζωοτροφές, το λεγόμενο RASFF, η Επιτροπή εξασφαλίζει την έγκαιρη και ταυτόχρονη ειδοποίηση των αρμοδίων αρχών και των 27 κρατών μελών.

Δεύτερον, το Γραφείο Τροφίμων και Κτηνιατρικών Θεμάτων της Επιτροπής, το λεγόμενο FVO, διεξάγει συστηματικούς ελέγχους τόσο στα κράτη μέλη όσο και σε τρίτες χώρες.

Τρίτον, η Επιτροπή εξετάζει προσεκτικά κάθε πληροφορία που λαμβάνεται είτε από την Ευρωπαϊκή Αρχή για την Ασφάλεια των Τροφίμων, την EFSA, είτε από τα διεθνή μέσα μαζικής ενημέρωσης ή ακόμη από κάποια άλλη πηγή.

Όταν χρειάζεται, και ειδικότερα όταν τρόφιμα ή ζωοτροφές ενδέχεται να προκαλέσουν σοβαρό κίνδυνο για τη δημόσια υγεία και ο κίνδυνος αυτός δεν μπορεί να αντιμετωπισθεί αποτελεσματικά σε επίπεδο κράτους μέλους, τότε η Επιτροπή λαμβάνει τα απαραίτητα μέτρα σε επίπεδο Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης.

Για παράδειγμα, στην περίπτωση της παρουσίας ορυκτελαίου σε ηλιέλαιο ουκρανικής προέλευσης, το RASFF έλαβε στις 23 Απριλίου του 2008 κοινοποίηση από τις αρμόδιες γαλλικές αρχές, η οποία λήφθηκε από όλα τα κράτη μέλη. Η Επιτροπή ενημέρωσε αμέσως τα άλλα κράτη μέλη για το συμβάν αυτό, μέσω του RASFF, και εξέδωσε στις 10 Ιουνίου του 2008 την απόφαση 2008/433 για την επιβολή ειδικών μέτρων σε σχέση με την εισαγωγή ηλιελαίου ουκρανικής προέλευσης. Επιπρόσθετα ξεκίνησαν έρευνες για εντοπισμό της πηγής της επιμόλυνσης.

Επιπλέον, το σύστημα ιχνηλασιμότητας (traceability), που προβλέπεται από τον κανονισμό 178/2002, ευρύτερα γνωστός ως ο γενικός κανονισμός για τα τρόφιμα, παρέχει τη δυνατότητα να πραγματοποιούνται στοχοθετημένες και ακριβείς αποσύρσεις ή ανακλήσεις προϊόντων, να δίδονται κατάλληλες πληροφορίες στους καταναλωτές και στους υπευθύνους των επιχειρήσεων τροφίμων, να αξιολογούνται οι κίνδυνοι αλλά και να αποφεύγεται η άσκοπη διατάραξη του εμπορίου.

Η Επιτροπή ελέγχει επίσης συστηματικά την ικανότητα των αρμοδίων ελεγκτικών αρχών των κρατών μελών να εξασφαλίσουν την τήρηση των υποχρεώσεων της νομοθεσίας περί τροφίμων τόσο εντός όσο και εκτός της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης.

Στη Μαλαισία, για παράδειγμα, το Γραφείο Τροφίμων και Κτηνιατρικών Θεμάτων της Επιτροπής εντόπισε σημαντικά προβλήματα σε σχέση με την τήρηση των υποχρεώσεων για την εξαγωγή προϊόντων ψαριών. Στην Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση η Επιτροπή αντέδρασε άμεσα απαγορεύοντας την εισαγωγή ψαριών από τη Μαλαισία. Αυτό αποτελεί μόνον ένα από τα πολλά παραδείγματα αποτελεσματικής παρέμβασης της Επιτροπής για την προστασία των καταναλωτών και την αποφυγή διατροφικής κρίσης.

Κατά συνέπεια η Επιτροπή θεωρεί ότι η ισχύουσα νομοθεσία τής παρέχει τα απαραίτητα μέσα για την επιτυχή αντιμετώπιση των διατροφικών κρίσεων και την αποτελεσματική προστασία του καταναλωτή.

Παράλληλα όμως φροντίζουμε να βελτιώνουμε συνεχώς τις διόδους επικοινωνίας και συνεργασίας με τα κράτη μέλη προς το σκοπό αυτό, όπως, για παράδειγμα, με τις νέες κατευθυντήριες γραμμές για τη χρήση του RASFF που η Επιτροπή πρόκειται να υιοθετήσει σύντομα.

 
  
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  Σταύρος Αρναουτάκης, Συντάκτης. − Κύρια Επίτροπε, σας ευχαριστώ για την εισήγησή σας και θα ήθελα να πω ότι αυτό σήμερα που βιώνει ο ευρωπαίος καταναλωτής είναι ότι δεν έχει εμπιστοσύνη. Έχει κλονιστεί η εμπιστοσύνη του.

Χρειάζεται λοιπόν να δούμε από πλευράς της Επιτροπής ποιες θα είναι αυτές οι ενέργειες που πρέπει να γίνουν για την ενημέρωσή του. Γιατί, πολύ σωστά εσείς μπορεί να κάνετε όλα αυτά τα οποία είπατε προηγουμένως και είναι άξια συγχαρητηρίων, αλλά, για παράδειγμα, στην Ελλάδα είχαμε το ουκρανικό ηλιέλαιο και οι μισοί Έλληνες είχαν φάει από το ηλιέλαιο αυτό. Πώς θα μπορέσει να προστατευτεί ο καταναλωτής και ποιες θα είναι οι ενέργειες που εσείς προτίθεσθε να αναλάβετε;

 
  
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  Ανδρούλα Βασιλείου, Μέλος της Επιτροπής. − Εκείνο που θέλω να τονίσω είναι ότι ο όλο και περισσότερος θόρυβος που γίνεται γύρω από αυτό το θέμα και οι ειδοποιήσεις που γίνονται μέσω της RASFF αποτελούν ένδειξη ότι πράγματι το σύστημα λειτουργεί.

Στην περίπτωση της Ελλάδας και του ηλιελαίου από την Ουκρανία, είναι αλήθεια ότι στις 23 Απριλίου 2008 δόθηκε η γενική ειδοποίηση ότι υπάρχει στην αγορά της Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης αυτό το μολυσμένο ηλιέλαιο. Στις 5 Μαΐου του 2008, που οι ελβετικές αρχές έδωσαν συγκεκριμένη ειδοποίηση στο κέντρο, εδώ, ότι αυτό το ηλιέλαιο διοχετεύθηκε μεταξύ άλλων στην Ελλάδα, στην Ιταλία και στην Τουρκία, τότε οι ελληνικές αρχές έκαναν τις αναγκαίες έρευνες και άρχισαν να μας δίδουν τις πληροφορίες και να αποσύρουν τα προϊόντα.

Εκείνο όμως που θέλω να τονίσω είναι ότι δεν πρέπει να συγχέουμε τα μέτρα τα οποία έχει εξουσία να λαμβάνει η Ευρωπαϊκή Επιτροπή – και τα οποία λαμβάνει – και τις υποχρεώσεις των κρατών μελών, που είναι εσωτερικό θέμα των κρατών μελών.

Φυσικά θα μου πείτε, έλεγχοι γίνονται; Ναι, γίνονται. Υπάρχει αυτή η Υπηρεσία, το FVO, το οποίο κατά καιρούς πηγαίνει σε διάφορες χώρες μέλη, ελέγχει ότι οι υπηρεσίες λειτουργούν και εντοπίζει τυχόν αδυναμίες και τις υποδεικνύει στα κράτη μέλη. Αυτό φυσικά γίνεται και με την Ελλάδα και με άλλες χώρες.

 
  
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  Mairead McGuinness (PPE-DE). – Commissioner, the EU has done a great job in its farm-to-fork system, and consumers should have confidence in it but, as an ancillary point, what about protecting EU producers? I do not believe that we put the same rigour on imported food products as we do internally. For example, we allow substances to be used externally that we ban within the European Union, and with the new plant protection products legislation we are going to do that increasingly in cereal production. Could I ask you, Commissioner, to address that particular concern, because we might be consuming food in Europe that you could not actually produce in the European Union?

 
  
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  Danutė Budreikaitė (ALDE). – Norėjau pasiteirauti : kas yra maisto krizė ? Ar vieno nesaugaus maisto produkto atsiradimas Europos Sąjungos rinkoje gali būti įvardyta kaip maisto krizė? Tada mes galėtume kalbėti apie žaislų krizę, nes atsirado nesaugūs žaislai, ir visų kitų nesaugių produktų atsiradimą. Kas yra maisto krizė? Ar tai nėra beatodairiškas kainų kilimas, pažeidžiantis visus vartotojus?

 
  
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  Androula Vassiliou, Member of the Commission. − Let me start with the second question and say that we cannot call it a food crisis if we find a defective commodity in the market. It could be a food crisis if we allow this commodity to circulate freely within the European Union. Then we could have a crisis, because we could endanger the health of our citizens.

But with the system that we have in force and which we apply very carefully and meticulously, we try to avoid these crises. We have managed on numerous (and also on recent) occasions to avoid food crises.

Regarding the controls on products and foodstuffs produced outside the European Union, I have to say that we demand from our trading partners that they apply exactly the same controls as we apply to their internally produced foodstuffs.

That is why, for example, I mentioned Malaysia, where we sent our FVO and they found that the system was not really working properly, and we banned the importation of fish from Malaysia. The same was done in the case of beef from Brazil and, on many other occasions, from Bangladesh.

So we demand from our partners that, if they want to export to the European Union, they abide by the hygiene rules that we apply within the Union.

 
  
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  Presidente. − Pergunta n.º 36 da Deputada Bilyana Ilieva Raeva (H-0548/08)

Assunto: Segurança rodoviária

O número de mortos e feridos em acidentes rodoviários constitui uma questão importante em termos humanitários, sanitários, ecológicos, financeiros, sociais e demográficos. Além disso, as despesas causadas por esta tragédia têm múltiplas implicações negativas para a qualidade de vida, o desenvolvimento sustentável e o aquecimento global.

Neste contexto, deviam ser desenvolvidas políticas que estimulem os Estados-Membros a manter o número de vítimas dos acidentes de transportes em níveis não superiores à média da UE.

De que forma poderia a Comissão lançar medidas mais decisivas, como legislação comunitária para ampliar as normas comuns existentes - em particular, introduzindo um indicador comum da UE em matéria de limiar de acidentes rodoviários a respeitar rigorosamente pelos Estados-Membros?

Quais são as perspectivas de a Comissão estudar a possibilidade de desenvolver uma abordagem comum uniforme em matéria de supervisão, controlo e sanções no território da UE? Podemos crer que uma futura política comum de segurança rodoviária da UE também resultará numa política comum de polícia de trânsito que fará melhorar a qualidade do controlo e monitorização da segurança rodoviária?

 
  
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  Jacques Barrot, Vice-président de la Commission. − Monsieur le Président, Monsieur Tajani étant retenu par un Conseil des ministres, je suis heureux de répondre à Mme Raeva, d'autant plus que le sujet sur lequel porte sa question est un sujet dont j'ai eu beaucoup à m'occuper personnellement et qui me tient très à cœur.

En 2001, l'Union européenne s'est donné comme objectif de réduire de moitié le nombre de tués à l'horizon 2010. Cet objectif a été reconnu par le Parlement européen et par le Conseil. Il a fait l'objet, en 2003, d'un programme d'action européen pour la sécurité routière, qui définissait soixante mesures visant à inciter les usagers à adopter un meilleur comportement, à tirer parti du progrès technique pour mieux sécuriser les véhicules, à améliorer les infrastructures routières, à sécuriser le transport professionnel, à améliorer les soins aux accidentés et à développer l'analyse des données d'accidents. Afin de suivre l'évolution de la situation dans ce domaine de la sécurité routière, des indicateurs de performance ont été créés par la Commission: nombre de tués par million d'habitants, taux de port de la ceinture de sécurité et du casque, nombre et pourcentage de personnes sous influence de l'alcool impliquées dans un accident de la route, nombre et pourcentage de personnes dépassant la limite de vitesse autorisée.

Dans le domaine de la législation communautaire il convient de citer la nouvelle directive relative au permis de conduire adoptée par le Parlement européen et le Conseil le 20 décembre 2006. Cette directive consiste à améliorer la sécurité routière des jeunes usagers de la route et la libre circulation des citoyens au sein de l'Union européenne. Nous avons aussi une directive relative à la sécurité des infrastructures routières, adoptée suite à un accord en première lecture, en juin 2008. Nous avons ensuite la proposition de directive relative au contrôle des infractions routières, soumise par la Commission en 2008 et actuellement en négociation au Parlement européen et au Conseil.

Par ailleurs, la Commission s'efforce de favoriser au maximum l'échange de bonnes pratiques entre les États membres en matière de sécurité routière. Dans le cadre de l'appel à propositions elle participe au financement de campagnes de sécurité routière ou de projets innovants dans ce domaine incluant plusieurs états membres.

De même, la Commission soutient financièrement le plan de la recherche pour des projets susceptibles d'améliorer la connaissance dans des domaines précis et d'initier, sur des bases scientifiques fiables, des propositions législatives dans l'avenir. Le projet DRUID "driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol and medecine" en est un exemple, alors qu'aujourd'hui la lutte contre la conduite sous influence de substances psycho-actives devient une priorité dans de nouveaux États membres. Enfin, Madame la députée, un nouveau programme d'action européen est en cours de préparation pour la période 2010-2020. Ce programme d'action fera l'objet d'une consultation publique au début de l'année prochaine 2009 et il fera ensuite l'objet d'une adoption par la Commission.

Voilà les éléments que M. Tajani souhaitait apporter en réponse à votre question.

 
  
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  Биляна Илиева Раева, автор. − Г-н Комисар, изключително се радвам да Ви поздравя за усилията, които до този момент и в качеството Ви на комисар, отговарящ за транспорта доскоро в Европейския съюз, сте положили в последните години. Благодаря много, също така, и за представянето на резюмето що се касае за Общата европейска политика за безопасност по пътищата.

Именно в тази насока бих искала да попитам: „ При съществуването на индикатори, при съществуването, определено, на много сериозна инициатива от страна на Европейската комисия за безопасност на движението в Европа, по какъв начин се осигурява контролът на изпълнението на тези индикатори и по какъв начин се гарантира действително, че в Европа ще имаме намаление поне с 50% на смъртоносните случаи?“ Защото за една държава като България този индикатор е твърде висок. Ние в Европа се нуждаем определено от санкции при неспазване на тези изисквания.

 
  
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  Jacques Barrot, Vice-président de la Commission Monsieur le Président, Madame la députée, la supervision, les contrôles et les sanctions relatives aux infractions, bien sûr, relèvent de la compétence des États membres.

Mais je voudrais vous rappeler que la Commission a adopté, le 21 octobre 2003, une recommandation relative à l'application de la réglementation dans le domaine de la sécurité routière, qui définit les meilleures pratiques en ce qui concerne le contrôle des infractions routières et je voudrais surtout vous dire que nous avons l'occasion, avec la journée européenne de sécurité routière, d'établir le bilan pour chaque État membre. Ce bilan met en valeur le bilan de certains États membres et aussi les faiblesses d'autres États membres. Je pense qu'il y a là, avec la Journée européenne de sécurité routière, un moyen pour nous de mettre vraiment la lumière sur les différentes performances des États membres.

Alors c'est vrai, vous avez raison de le souligner, nous n'avons pas atteint les performances que nous souhaitions. Nous avons beaucoup d'inquiétudes sur l'objectif qui consistait à réduire de moitié le nombre de morts pour 2010. Et il faudra peut-être que dans le prochain programme multiannuel, qui va durer dix ans, nous puissions renforcer encore les contraintes qui s'exercent sur les États membres.

Je voudrais aussi en profiter, Monsieur le Président, pour rappeler toute l'importance que nous attachons au vote de la directive qui permettra de sanctionner les abus causés par des automobilistes dans un autre État membre que le leur. Aujourd'hui, il y a trop d'impunité pour des conducteurs qui ne respectent aucune des règles, alors même qu'ils sont dans un autre État membre que le leur et je crois qu'il y aura là vraiment un moyen de conduire les citoyens européens à mieux se comporter sur la route.

Merci d'avoir posé cette question. Je sais que mon successeur, Monsieur Tajani, est très engagé aussi sur ce dossier de la sécurité routière, et je puis vous dire que toutes vos suggestions, toute votre mobilisation nous aideront à mettre fin à ce grave fléau.

 
  
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  Presidente. − Por não se encontrar presente o seu autor, a pergunta nº 37 caduca.

Segunda parte

 
  
  

Segunda parte

 
  
  

Pergunta n.º 38 do Deputado Emmanouil Angelakas (H-0525/08)

Assunto: Informação-educação dos jovens consumidores

É um facto que uma parte significativa das compras de bens e serviços é efectuada por consumidores jovens e adolescentes. Os jovens consumidores são bombardeados por campanhas publicitárias, muitas vezes enganadoras, que promovem artigos escolares, jogos, roupas, bebidas material audiovisual etc..

Para além do Europa Diary, que já está em funcionamento, tenciona a Comissão preparar uma campanha pan-europeia de informação educação dos jovens consumidores em torno dos temas que lhes dizem respeito e como e com que meios irá organizar uma tal iniciativa? Em particular, no que diz respeito ao observatório dos consumidores (consumer scoreboard) de que modo e com que metodologia tenciona a Comissão tratar os dados obtidos sobre os jovens consumidores e como irá fazer para lhes fazer chegar essa informação?

 
  
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  Meglena Kuneva, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, the Commission welcomes the concerns expressed by the honourable Member and would like to draw his attention to the fact that existing Community laws on consumer rights already offer considerable protection of young people. For example, the Directive on Unfair Commercial Practices (UCP) aims at protecting consumers, including young people, from practices that harm their economic interests, such as misleading advertising or aggressive practices. Vulnerable consumers, among others younger citizens, are specifically taken into account when assessing unfair commercial practices. The Directive also includes a black list of commercial practices which are prohibited in all circumstances across the EU. For example, the inclusion in an advertisement of a direct exhortation to children to buy products is banned across the European Union.

The Commission will launch a communication web campaign on the UCP Directive in September 2008. This is quite a new directive and will also target young people. The campaign will make use of a dedicated website, including animations, illustrations and quizzes, in order to explain UCP rules in a more interesting and interactive way. To attract consumers’ attention, banners and fake advertisements will be disseminated in several key consumer websites. There will be portals for specific categories of consumer, such as young people, virtual communities, music websites and blogs. The information will be circulated on the internet over a period of one month and, although it is difficult to predict for how long this data will be hosted by the partner websites, we expect the information to be available on the web for at least a few months.

The UCP dedicated website which is being created will be accessible to consumers for an indeterminate duration. For the time being, the Commission has no intention of launching a special pan-European campaign to inform and educate young consumers. However, besides the Europe Diary, it is also developing a web-based consumer education tool called Dolceta which contains a teaching module aimed at primary and secondary teachers.

As regards the consumer scoreboard, at the current stage our data do not distinguish between different groups of consumers. It is not possible for the scoreboard to address in detail all markets or all different types of consumer. However, where we have specific data covering younger consumers, for example students, such as Eurobarometer surveys, we will publish the data for this group.

 
  
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  Εμμανουήλ Αγγελάκας, Συντάκτης. − Κύριε Πρόεδρε, κυρία Επίτροπε σας ευχαριστώ για την πλήρη και εμπεριστατωμένη απάντηση. Είναι πάρα πολύ παρήγορο και ευχάριστο ότι ξεκινάει αυτή η εκστρατεία στο Διαδίκτυο τον Σεπτέμβριο, τον μήνα που διανύουμε.

Θα ήθελα απλώς να ερωτήσω συμπληρωματικά το εξής: εάν υπάρχει στον προβληματισμό της Επιτροπής σκέψη να απαγορευθούν οι διαφημίσεις που απευθύνονται σε παιδιά από την τηλεόραση, όπως αυτό έχει συμβεί σε ορισμένα κράτη μέλη, όπου οι τηλεοπτικές διαφημίσεις για παιδιά απαγορεύονται μέχρι μία συγκεκριμένη ώρα της ημέρας, νομίζω μέχρι τις 10 ή 11 το βράδυ, όπου τα παιδιά παρακολουθούν τηλεόραση.

 
  
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  Meglena Kuneva, Member of the Commission. − This information is well known in my DG as well, but actually this falls rather more within the scope of my fellow Commissioner, Viviane Reding, because it is also related to the freedom of information which comes very broadly within the scope of the activities of her DG.

What I can tell you is that we have the TV Without Borders Directive, which tackles such issues, and we have our black list in the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. The reason why we have such a tool as a black list is that, if there is a need, and if we have enough evidence, we can add a practice to the black list when we agree that it is something which we need to target and ban all over Europe. Of course, such action needs to be evidence-based. So we are fully aware of the problem.

It is not directly part of Unfair Commercial Practices (UCP) but we are ready to look at it if there is a practice which we could consider as meriting inclusion on a black or grey list, and Commissioner Reding is doing her best to be certain that the TV Without Borders Directive is tackling issues like these.

 
  
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  Danutė Budreikaitė (ALDE). – 55 procentai per televiziją reklamuojamo maisto yra nesveikas maistas. 80 procentų vaikų pusryčiams tėvų prašo būtent to maisto, kuris buvo reklamuotas per televiziją. Mano klausimas būtų: ar Bendrija galėtų, sutelkusi jėgas, akcentuoti ne tik reklamą? Reklamuoja gamintojai. Kokios būtų priemonės skatinti gamintojus gaminti daugiau sveiko maisto ir jį reklamuoti?

 
  
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  Meglena Kuneva, Member of the Commission. − I believe that producers can be induced to produce healthy foods through market tools. If there is a demand from the market, they will respond to this demand. We can say what the producers should produce, but this is not exactly how the Commission should tackle the problem. What we can do is make the information 100% available in a very understandable way. The Commission is working very hard on this so as to have proper information about food-related products.

You say that some of the advertisements are false or expose children to danger. If, for example, a product claims that it could cure you or could all of a sudden make you 10 years younger (which of course is not possible), then it is in my scope and I could deal with it through the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. Otherwise, when you are talking about the healthy side of food, I should again remind you that this is part of the portfolio of Commissioner Vassiliou. She is doing an excellent job in having this food labelling properly done, through which consumers can make their own choice. That is what we are targeting: having well-informed consumers, and through the educational campaign in which my DG is also very much involved, we can improve market awareness.

 
  
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  Presidente. − Pergunta n.º 39 da Deputada Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou (H-0530/08)

Assunto: Protecção do consumidor e educação

É sabido que as políticas de educação são da competência dos Estados-Membros. Contudo, produtos relacionados com a aprendizagem, a formação e a formação ao longo da vida são objecto de comércio, nomeadamente transfronteiriço, e portanto, dizem respeito aos consumidores. Por essa razão, pergunta-se à Comissão como é elaborada a política europeia de protecção do consumidor no que diz respeito à qualidade e aos preços?

 
  
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  Meglena Kuneva, Member of the Commission. − The Commission does not have the power to set prices or define the quality of educational products. Otherwise, I really find the question quite relevant. However, consumers are protected under EU laws against misleading or aggressive practice when they purchase educational products.

Under the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, which I have just talked about, traders must not mislead consumers with false or deceptive information as regards, for example, the benefits of a product, the results to be expected from its use, or the results of tests or checks carried out.

The Directive also includes a black list of practices prohibited in all circumstances: claiming that a product has been approved or endorsed by a public or private body (such as, for example, stating that an educational book has been approved by the ministry of education when this is not the case) is banned outright across the EU.

Furthermore, traders must provide consumers with all the information they need in order to make an informed choice. The Commission has, for example, received a complaint relating to courses to be purchased on an English-speaking website, which were then delivered in another language. Omitting to inform the consumer of the language used for the courses can be considered a misleading practice. It is, however, up to the national authorities and courts in charge of enforcement of the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive to determine, subject to the free movement principles enshrined in the EC Treaty, what information is material on a case-by-case basis, in line with European law.

 
  
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  Μαρία Παναγιωτοπούλου-Κασσιώτου, Συντάκτρια. − Ευχαριστώ την Επίτροπο για την απάντηση. Η παραποίηση της τιμής ως προς την ποιότητα του προϊόντος αφορά τον καταναλωτή. Δεν μιλώ για τον καθορισμό της τιμής, αλλά για τον καθορισμό της σχέσεως τιμής και προϊόντος με βάση τον ανταγωνισμό, καθώς και τη μεταφορά προϊόντων από ένα κράτος μέλος σε άλλο και την προστασία των καταναλωτών διασυνοριακά.

Έχετε κάποια πληροφορία για τη διασυνοριακή προστασία, όταν μεταφέρονται εκπαιδευτικά προϊόντα από το ένα κράτος μέλος στο άλλο;

 
  
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  Meglena Kuneva, Member of the Commission. − Concerning cross-border problems with teaching materials, we have European Consumer Centres whose work is based on consumer cooperation regulation and which are good ambassadors for consumer rights all over Europe.

In the event of a cross-border disagreement between a consumer and the provider of an educational service, book or material, the consumer can approach a Consumer Centre. If the consumer cannot solve the issue directly, the Consumer Centre in his country can help him get a satisfactory solution in the country of origin of the educational services or material.

I do not have with me a full record of all the different experiences and cases in the various Member States, but can tell you that these European Consumer Centres meet together several times per year. It is already a very enhanced and good network, and most of the Centres are very active and able to solve the issues raised by consumers.

Since the question referred to the education sector, the Centres could be asked for information on how they have solved such issues. However, the basic principle is the same, and this regulation is functioning really well.

 
  
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  Paul Rübig (PPE-DE). – Mich würde interessieren, wie es eigentlich mit den Fernstudien im Internet aussieht. Gibt es im Zusammenhang mit Beschwerden die Möglichkeit, dass die Kommission auch eine Homepage einrichtet, wo man sehen kann, bei welchen Ferninstituten Probleme auftreten, sodass hier mehr Transparenz entsteht?

 
  
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  Reinhard Rack (PPE-DE). – Wir haben immer wieder das Problem, dass sich sehr viele Menschen in Europa fragen, wo denn der europäische Mehrwert ist. Nun ist die Europäische Union zwar nicht für Bildungsfragen zuständig, aber wir sind etwa für Fragen der Qualitätssicherung und des Verbraucherschutzes zuständig. Hier machen wir auch Einiges. Wäre es nicht möglich, dass im Rahmen der allgemeinen Informationstätigkeit der Kommission ganz bewusst als Adressaten die Schulen und hier vielleicht sogar die niedrigen Schulstufen angesprochen werden? Hier kann man mit Projekten und Wettbewerben zeigen: Europa bringt einen europäischen Mehrwert. Vielleicht könnte man – auch im Zusammenhang mit der vorhergehenden Frage – dieses Thema so zu den ganz jungen Leuten bringen.

 
  
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  Meglena Kuneva, Member of the Commission. − I fully and gladly recognise the value of your suggestions and your input. Opening up a little more the scope of my answer, I would like to say that we are at the stage of completion of the internal market, which really is a foundation of the Union. However, so far the market has been very much oriented to business and to having the right conditions for business, and quite rightly so. Now, though, we need to complete the internal market with a second stage in which consumers feel everywhere equally welcome and equally well protected. That is the consumer policy for the 21st century.

I am very glad to report back to you that, in the Consumer Strategy 2007-2015, education aimed at empowering consumers is the first and very basic pillar of the consumer strategy. I cannot tell you more now, but we have tools like Europe Diary, which precisely targets teenagers, and we have Dolcetta, which is a complement to teacher education, but we are very much reliant on the efforts of the Member States.

We need to see this policy from the point of view of subsidiarity. There are countries which are ready to invest more in consumer education and to support the overall Commission efforts. I have written to all the relevant Ministers asking them for their support, because we are at a really crucial stage as regards having an equally well-performing consumer market all over Europe.

In the future we will talk more about how consumers feel in this internal market. That is one very basic remark. Another is that we need to tackle consumer complaints more, and more broadly. We do not have a common base in the European Commission for consumer complaints. Like you we receive many complaints, some of which are despatched from Parliament to the Commission, from your constituencies, but what we need to build on is how to deal with those complaints. The Commission cannot repeat the efforts of an Ombudsman or of a Member State, but if there is a persistent problem in one or other area of consumer policy, we need to tackle it, including with legislation.

There are good examples which show that consumer complaints could really reorient the mainstream of consumer policy. What we are trying to do now is gather such kinds of information using the consumer market scoreboard. The first edition of the consumer market scoreboard took place at the beginning of this year. We have a special indictor: consumer complaints. We compare the Member States to see how many complaints they are tackling and in what kind of areas. I eagerly await the information from the Member States for the next edition of consumer market scoreboards at the beginning of next year. So, step by step, we are heading in the direction of one internal market for citizens.

 
  
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  Presidente. − Pergunta n.º 40 da Deputada Giovanna Corda (H-0545/08)

Assunto: Queixas dos consumidores relativamente ao comércio electrónico

Os resultados de um recente inquérito levado a cabo pelos centros europeus de consumidores (CEC) revelaram um número muito elevado de litígios envolvendo os consumidores que compram em linha (2583 litígios e 8834 reclamações em 2007).

Não considera a Comissão que, perante o desenvolvimento exponencial do comércio electrónico, deveria: lançar campanhas de informação para advertir os consumidores dos riscos ligados a esta nova forma de comércio? Criar procedimentos urgentes e eficazes a fim de resolver esses litígios transfronteiriços, em particular os numerosos casos de não entrega ou de entrega de produtos não conformes?

 
  
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  Meglena Kuneva, Member of the Commission. − This is about the internet, which is a very important issue. The internet presents an enormous opportunity for consumers. It gives them access to better information and expands the size of the market they operate in, giving them access to more providers and more choice.

Already, 150 million EU citizens – a third of our population – shop over the internet. The rapid growth in the number of EU citizens buying online is not matched by the growth in the number of those who do so cross-border, however.

This shows that the Commission is right in addressing the issue, which is linked to consumer confidence with a range of information measures. The online digital user’s guide, which is being prepared by the Commission, has to be mentioned. It will be published online by the end of 2008. As a follow-up to the guide, one could consider drawing up guidelines on how to implement the unfair commercial practices legislation with regard to unfair commercial practices emerging online.

Another tool about which we have already talked is Dolceta, which is geared towards educating consumers, for example on distance selling and consumer redress. Educating young consumers who are particularly active online is crucial. The Consumer Diary, with a record distribution of 2.8 million copies (and this information might also be interesting for Mr Angelakas) in more than 18 000 schools this year, includes information on internet use and cross-border redress.

The Consumer Policy Strategy 2007-2013 foresees actions related to consumer information as part of its priority – better informed and educated consumers. The main tools the European Commission uses to inform citizens and stakeholders about consumer policy in this framework are a website, the Consumer Voice newsletter and information campaigns. The letter contains e-commerce as a major campaign theme in several newer Member States.

Concerning the second question, which concerns enforcement and redress, the Commission strongly believes that, in order to make the internal market work, European consumers must be confident that they can enforce their rights and obtain redress across the European Union. Complaints relating to e-commerce, including complaints regarding non-delivery of products or delivery of unsatisfactory products, may be addressed under the current EU redress framework that we have already set up for European consumers. This framework includes the ECC-net, the two Commission recommendations on alternative dispute resolution, the recently adopted Mediation Directive, and the regulation establishing a European small claims procedure.

The Commission is also in the process of considering whether an EU initiative on consumer collective redress is necessary and, if so, what type of initiative that should be. I am fully convinced that the screen is a new marketplace.

 
  
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  Giovanna Corda, auteur. − Monsieur le Président, Madame la Commissaire, vous avez déjà répondu en partie à la question que j'allais vous poser, qui concerne les problèmes rencontrés en cas d'achat.

Les procédures sont longues, compliquées, coûteuses. Les préjudices subis sont d'autant plus importants qu'ils concernent souvent les plus défavorisés d'entre nous.

Pourrait-on imaginer, étant donné qu'il existe un vide juridique, que les centres européens de consommateurs aient les moyens d'entreprendre ces démarches, d'une façon collective peut-être, mais également individuelle, à la place des consommateurs lésés?

 
  
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  Paul Rübig (PPE-DE). – Es geht ganz einfach darum, dass wir uns Gedanken darüber machen, welche Möglichkeiten in Zukunft vorhanden sind, um Beschwerden transparent an die Öffentlichkeit zu bringen. Wenn grenzüberschreitende Handlungen wiederholt werden, ist es notwendig, dass auch die Gerichte und die Staatsanwaltschaften Zugriff bekommen. Glauben Sie, dass es möglich ist, hier eine Datenbank einzurichten?

 
  
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  Justas Vincas Paleckis (PSE). – Gerbiama komisare, Jūs įtikinamai kalbėjote apie elektroninės prekybos plitimą ir aš įsitikinęs, kad tas plitimas greičiau vyksta senosiose Europos Sąjungos šalyse. Norėčiau paklausti, kaip Komisija visgi skatina tą prekybą tose šalyse, kurios įstojo į Europos Sąjungą 21-ame amžiuje ir kaip gina vartotojų teises, ir kaip deda pastangas, kad visgi išsilygintų ta proporcija? Ir norėčiau paklausti, kur tų piktnaudžiavimų daugiau – ar, sakysim, senosiose šalyse ar naujosiose šalyse?

 
  
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  Meglena Kuneva, Member of the Commission. − The suggestion of European Consumer Centres going to court on behalf of European consumers is an idea we will discuss in our communication on collective redress before the end of the year. So far, my concern has been to keep our minds open and to have a diversity of opinions before arriving at a final proposal.

We really need to see the whole picture and to use all the instruments at our disposal, including the Directive on Injunctions, which is also one of the tools we can use cross-border in Europe.

I fully agree about the database, which I firmly support. We need it in order to make better policies and better legislation.

My firm conviction is that we need to be evidence-based whenever we are proposing legislation or having our common enforcement actions.

I will continue with enforcement actions in all 27 countries at the same time – the so-called ‘sweeps’ on issues such as airline tickets or ring tones. Websites are normally very good clients in such kinds of cross-border enforcement actions.

Each country is different. We need to have broadband penetration, and we need to have more than a given percentage of the population using whatever kinds of tools they use to enjoy e-commerce, which is usually the internet. I also believe that we can enhance this penetration through cohesion policy, regional policy and the Cohesion Fund. New Member States will have a unique possibility to catch up really fast and sometimes to avoid some of our previous mistakes. They need to go in leaps.

If you have good, targeted legislation which is fully harmonised in all Member States, this will have a tremendous impact in raising both consumer confidence and the level of consumer performance in all Member States. E-commerce is one of the tools for getting a better deal and for having more choice. It is not merely a market tool, but also a very important democratic tool.

 
  
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  Presidente. − Pergunta n.º 42 do Deputado Colm Burke (H-0537/08)

Assunto: Painel de Avaliação do Mercado Interno

A plena aplicação da legislação do mercado interno beneficia os consumidores e a indústria da UE. O Painel de Avaliação do Mercado Interno constitui uma forma eficiente de apresentar o comportamento relativo dos Estados-Membros no que respeita à aplicação dessa legislação. Por consequência, de que modo propõe a Comissão comunicar cabalmente os resultados do mencionado Painel aos consumidores e à indústria?

 
  
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  Charlie McCreevy, Member of the Commission. − Mr President, I thank the honourable Member for his positive comments about the internal market scoreboard. I agree that the scoreboard results need to be widely communicated. All editions of the scoreboard are available on the Europa website. Paper versions were sent to the permanent representations of the Member States and to the Commission representation offices in the capitals of the 27 Member States. In addition, copies were circulated to other EU institutions as well as the national administrations. Following the publication of each scoreboard, a press release is issued in 21 languages and the results are communicated during a press conference to ensure that they are easily accessible to the national media.

 
  
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  Colm Burke, author. − Thank you, Commissioner, for dealing with this question. I welcome the work that has been done in this area, which relates to the whole issue of the perception of the European Union in Member States.

In Ireland we had a particular problem during the debate on the Lisbon Treaty since, whenever something negative arises, we tend to blame the European Union. Can I just raise one typical example of an area in which we have no comeback: that of a Member State failing to act on a European Union directive. In Wicklow, in my own area of Cromane, there was a case about eight years ago where funding was made available, under a directive, from Europe to the Irish Government, but no action was taken, and as a result 50 families are now not able to carry out their normal work of mussel harvesting. The local papers blamed the European Union. We have no redress...

(The President cut off the speaker.)

 
  
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  Charlie McCreevy, Member of the Commission. − We have a range of tools available to us for late transposition of directives, which primarily the EU scoreboard deals with. If the Member States continues to be late in transposition, we then of course have the ultimate sanction of taking the case further. But we try to avoid all of that by doing the following: if a Member State has difficulties in transposing a directive, we organise meetings with them, we have seminars and we try to deal with specific questions and difficulties they might have. So we do our best to try and get the transposition effected as quickly as possible.

I agree with Mr Burke when he says that this is true not just in Ireland but in other EU countries as well. There is a marked tendency for all governments to take credit for themselves for the good things that happen, even though they might be inspired from Europe or by an originating idea from Europe. I am sure that those of us who have served in the Irish Parliament or government have often been guilty of that as well. But then when there is anything negative that has any kind of European orientation, of course we blame Europe. So I agree with Mr Burke that there should be more positivity about the good things that we do here in Europe.

When a Member State fails to act in a particular area, we do take the appropriate action but we try to avoid these things if possible by encouraging Member States to get their house in order as quickly as they can.

 
  
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  Presidente. − Pergunta n.º 43 do Deputado Jim Higgins (H-0539/08)

Assunto: Sector bancário nas zonas fronteiriças

A Comissão pode indicar se irá investigar a questão dos encargos adicionais aplicáveis aos cartões de crédito e de Multibanco usados nas zonas fronteiriças, tendo especialmente em conta o facto de muitos bancos operarem em ambos os lados da fronteira entre a Irlanda do Norte e a República da Irlanda?

 
  
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  Charlie McCreevy, Member of the Commission. − Users of debit and credit cards in border areas can face three categories of charges associated with card payments. These are: usual charges related to the use of cards independently of the geographic location or Member State; charges for currency conversion if the payment is made between Member States using different currencies, for example the euro and sterling; and third, charges at the point of sale of a cash withdrawal at an ATM.

Looking at the first category, i.e. the normal charges for card users, regulated at European level as far as payment in euros are concerned: according to Regulation (EC) No 2560/2001 on cross-border payments in euro, when a cross-border payment in euro is made between two Member States, the charges levied for such payment should be the same as the charges for a corresponding payment in euro within the Member State in which the card was issued. At the same time, payments by cards linked to non-euro accounts, for example sterling accounts, are not subject to this regulation.

When a euro payment is made between a euro-area Member State, such as Ireland, and a non-euro-area Member State, such as the United Kingdom, supplementary charges may be applied for the currency conversion for payments by cards. The Payment Services Directive regulates the conditions under which the currency conversion shall be offered. However, it is yet to be implemented by Member States.

Finally, card payments can also be subject to a surcharge at the point of sale or to an additional withdrawal fee at privately-owned ATMs. The issue of surcharging or offering a discount on a given payment instrument is, according to European legislation, left to the discretion of the merchant. At the same time nothing impedes the Member States from banning or limiting such surcharges. This is explicitly confirmed in the already mentioned Directive on payment services in the internal market.

The Commission has therefore no legal basis for intervention in the matter of supplementary charges on cross-border payment services in the UK and Ireland. However, the Commission believes that competition on both sides of the border will keep costs at a reasonable level. If market players would reduce or limit competition, the competent national authorities shall intervene in the best interests of the citizens.

 
  
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  Jim Higgins, author. − Like myself, the Commissioner is totally au fait with the Irish situation, where 18 000 workers cross the border every day from one jurisdiction to another and where 5 200 students and 1.7 million people either take holidays or go shopping from one side of the border to the other.

I know the Commissioner has said that it is up to national governments and that the banks are not subject to Regulation (EC) No 2560/01, but surely it should be possibly to introduce regulations to ban these surcharges. We had a very good example where your colleague, Commissioner Vivien Reding, Commissioner for Information and Media, took a very tough stand with the mobile phone companies – and we can see the result to the benefit of the consumer. It seems wrong that this should be allowed to continue, particularly when there are sister banks on both sides of the border.

 
  
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  Charlie McCreevy, Member of the Commission. − This question of additional or supplementary charges on cross-border services has, I agree with Mr Higgins, given rise to some anger in particular quarters.

However, it is up to national authorities to address that issue because – and this was explicitly confirmed in the recently-enacted Directive on payment services – national authorities, in the compromise we reached, wanted to have that issue left to themselves. So the national authorities of the relevant Member States can address this issue if they want, but at that particular stage there was no majority of Member States in favour of action at EU level. That is where the matter rested at that particular time. Like all things in political and economic life, maybe this will change in the future.

So, as recently as the debate on the Payment Services Directive, there was no majority among the Member States to take action, but who knows what proposals will be put forward in the future – maybe a majority will emerge.

 
  
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  Presidente. − Pergunta n.º 44 do Deputado Dimitrios Papadimoulis (H-0553/08)

Assunto: Venda do OTE e recusa de oferta pública de aquisição

O Parlamento grego ratificou com uma lei o acordo entre o OTE (Organismo de Telecomunicações da Grécia) e a DT (Deutsche Telecom) sem ter em conta as disposições da Directiva 2004/25/CE(1) relativas à protecção dos accionistas minoritários. Para essa recusa invocou a alínea g) do artigo 8º da lei 3461/2006 que isenta da obrigação de oferta pública as empresas em processo de privatização.

Dado que antes do acordo o Estado grego detinha apenas 28% do capital do OTE, considera a Comissão que o OTE era uma empresa de Estado? A partir de que percentagem de participação pública no capital se considera que uma empresa é de Estado? A isenção conferida pela lei em questão protege os direitos dos accionistas minoritários? Os princípios da clareza e da transparência são respeitadas à escala comunitária nos casos de oferta pública de compra? Nos Estados-Membros, os titulares de acções de empresas nas quais o Estado detém participações têm menos direitos em relação às outras empresas em que o Estado não participa?

 
  
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  Charlie McCreevy, Member of the Commission. − I should firstly like to underline that the protection of the interests of minority shareholders in listed companies is one of the key objectives of the Community rules on takeover bids. In the event of a change of control in a listed company, all shareholders should be afforded equivalent treatment and minority shareholders should be protected. The Commission is very much attached to this fundamental principle.

Minority shareholders in state-owned companies which are listed are entitled to exactly the same rights as minority shareholders in companies owned by private parties. This principle normally implies that persons acquiring control of a listed company should launch a mandatory bid over the capital held by minority shareholders. However, the Community rules allow Member States to derogate from the mandatory-bid rule in order to take account of circumstances determined at national level.

Greece has made use of this discretion. Its national law foresees that the mandatory-bid rule should not be applicable in certain situations. This includes, in particular, the case where the privatisation process of a company is ongoing. This exemption is general in nature but, as usual, the devil is in the detail.

The Commission does not challenge the fact that the Greek national telecommunications operator, OTE, about which the honourable Member is enquiring, was a state-owned company. Although the state held only 28% of the company, the company was fully controlled by the Government. The real question at issue here is: how long can a privatisation process be ongoing? In the case of OTE, the privatisation procedure appears to be long. In fact, it seems to be very long indeed. The process, which is apparently still ongoing, started 12 years ago. How long can a company be kept out of the scope of application of the mandatory-bid rule of the Takeover Bid Directive? The Greek supervisor, the Hellenic Capital Market Commission, has decided that OTE is still undergoing a privatisation process and that, in consequence, no mandatory bid was necessary.

In conclusion, when Member States derogate from the mandatory-bid rule, they must nevertheless respect the general principle of protection of minority shareholders and ensure that they benefit from a treatment equivalent to that of majority shareholders. I have yet to see how the Greek authorities will ensure such protection in the present case. Therefore I have asked my services to enquire whether such protection has been achieved and to examine whether the rules of the Takeover Bid Directive have been respected by the Greek authorities in this case.

 
  
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  Δημήτριος Παπαδημούλης, Συντάκτης. − Κύριε Επίτροπε, ακριβώς αυτό είναι το πρόβλημα. Και δεν καταλαβαίνω τί ψάχνετε τόσους μήνες. Οι ελληνικές αρχές παραβιάζουν τα άρθρα 3 και 5 της οδηγίας 25 του 2004, αρνούνται την ίση μεταχείριση, αρνούνται τη δημόσια προσφορά, με το αστείο επιχείρημα ότι μια επιχείρηση, ο ΟΤΕ, στην οποία το κράτος έχει 28%, είναι κρατική.

Η Επιτροπή θα συνεχίσει να παρανομεί, παραβιάζοντας την οδηγία για ίση μεταχείριση και προστασία των μικρομετόχων; Μήπως, κύριε McCreevy, όπως δεν διαβάσατε τη Συνθήκη της Λισσαβώνας, δεν έχετε διαβάσει και την οδηγία 25 του 2004;

 
  
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  Charlie McCreevy, Member of the Commission. − As I have indicated, we are investigating the Greek law and its compatibility with internal market rules, in particular with regard to the free movement of capital and establishment and, if necessary, the case may be proceeded with further.

In this investigation, different Commission services maintain close coordination to ensure that there is a comprehensive analysis of the situation. I can assure the honourable Member that, when we have concluded our investigation, we will take, at that time, the appropriate action if – and only if – our investigation proves that there is a case to answer by the Greek authorities. That is the proper and legal way in which we conduct our business with every Member State, and it is no different now, when we are dealing with the Greek authorities.

When the investigation is complete, we will make the appropriate decisions at that time and pursue it further if it is deemed necessary to do so at that particular stage.

 
  
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  Presidente. − Pergunta n.º 48 do Deputado Georgios Papastamkos (H-0526/08)

Assunto: Sinergia do Mar Negro

Completou-se um ano desde a entrada em vigor da Sinergia do Mar Negro. Considera a Comissão ter reunido uma ampla estratégia consensual para abordar a região? Constituem, neste contexto, o desenvolvimento das ligações marítimas e dos transportes e ligações terrestres bem como a cooperação no sector da energia com a promoção paralela do desenvolvimento sustentável eixos principais das iniciativas de UE? Como tenciona tirar partido da presença de Estados-Membros (Grécia, Bulgária Roménia) na região?

 
  
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  Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the Commission. − The Commission adopted a report on the first year of implementation of the Black Sea Synergy on 19 June 2008. This describes the accomplishments in a wide variety of sectors and formulates proposals to develop the Synergy into a regional cooperation process. The latter include the setting of long-term measurable objectives, and also the selection of lead countries’ or organisations to coordinate actions to meet those objectives, and the creation of sectoral partnerships to co-finance the necessary projects.

As the Commission stated earlier, bilateral policies applied in the region – mainly the European neighbourhood polices – provide the strategic framework, and the Black Sea Synergy complements them at a regional level. Neighbourhood policy is at the bilateral level, and this is the first regional complement.

The sectors mentioned in your question are high on the Commission’s agenda. These are proposals to establish Black Sea partnerships in several fields, including transport and the environment, and Member States present in the region are particularly active in promoting those initiatives.

The coordination between the Commission and the three Member States has been reinforced both in developing the Synergy and in working with the Organisation of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).

Further progress of the Synergy requires the active involvement of a growing number of Member States and Black Sea partners, and the Black Sea Member States can and do play a crucial role in this.

 
  
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  Γεώργιος Παπαστάμκος, Συντάκτης. − Κυρία Επίτροπε, ευχαριστώ για την απάντησή σας. Πράγματι η πρωτοβουλία "Συνέργεια του Ευξείνου Πόντου" φέρει τη δική σας προσωπική σφραγίδα. Γνωρίζετε όμως επίσης ότι ο Οργανισμός Συνεργασίας των Χωρών του Ευξείνου Πόντου αποτελεί πλέον ένα ώριμο θεσμικό σχήμα περιφερειακής οργάνωσης με εντεινόμενη μάλιστα και διευρυνόμενη συνεργασία. Πολύ περισσότερο όταν εκεί συναντάται η Ευρώπη με την Ασία – και συναντάται πολλαπλώς.

Το ερώτημά μου είναι: πέραν αυτής της πρωτοβουλίας "Συνέργεια του Ευξείνου Πόντου", προτίθεται η Επιτροπή να επεξεργαστεί τη συγκρότηση των διαπεριφερειακών σχέσεων μεταξύ Ευρωπαϊκής Ένωσης και χωρών του Ευξείνου Πόντου σε περισσότερο αυστηρό θεσμικό πλαίσιο, να προκύψει δηλαδή διαπεριφερειακή συνεργασία θεσμικά κατοχυρωμένη;

 
  
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  Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the Commission. − On the Black Sea synergy, the idea was to have the eastern partners – all of our eastern partners – plus Turkey and Russia and, since they were already in this Black Sea economic cooperation, we felt this was the right way.

But you also know that we have been asked by the European Council to have a specific eastern partnership as well, and we will be working on that – indeed, my services and I will, in late autumn, propose something more specific only with the eastern partners, without Turkey and Russia. But I wanted to say again that I was in Kiev on 13/14 February, where the first ministerial meeting took place. You must understand that this was the launching of the conference. Of course it always takes time for projects to be finalised and to make real progress.

You will remember how long we have been working on the Barcelona Process and you know how slowly things develop, so I think there is still scope for the Black Sea cooperation on the one hand, but there will also be this narrower scope of the eastern partnership.

 
  
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  Presidente. − Pergunta n.º 49 do Deputado Robert Evans (H-0533/08)

Assunto: Missões de observação eleitoral da UE

A Comissão aplica consideráveis quantias de dinheiro em missões de observação eleitoral em todo o mundo e desempenha um papel extremamente importante em alguns dos países que maiores desafios apresentam.

Como avalia a Comissão estas missões a longo prazo? De que forma podemos ajudar e apoiar os países mais eficazmente para que colmatem as lacunas verificadas na realização de eleições e, assim, melhor se possam preparar para as eleições seguintes?

 
  
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  Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the Commission. − I would agree that EU election observation missions (EOMs) everywhere in the world represent money well spent. Over the past eight years EU observers have been reporting on crucial elections, thereby contributing to reducing conflict over the electoral outcome or highlighting areas requiring urgent electoral and political reform. As such, these are achievements which have an impact in the longer run.

The European Union is now widely seen as one of the most credible international election observers. I know Mr Evans himself has just come back very recently from the Sri Lanka elections. I think he will also have his own ideas on what worked well, and maybe on what has to be done for the future. The Commission will therefore continue to prioritise the EU EOMs, and as long as I am there I will try to do that.

Having said that, however, election observations are not and cannot be actions standing on their own. Election observation is not an objective in itself but should also contribute to addressing deficiencies in the electoral framework, and also to triggering institutional and democratic reform in the longer run.

The reports of the EOMs are a key entry point for addressing deficiencies in the electoral framework. They have a long-term perspective by definition. The recommendations of the EOMs usually identify possibilities for electoral change, for instance in the regulatory framework or in the management of the elections. They are increasingly embedded in a broader electoral support strategy, thereby enhancing the long-term impact.

With reference to other recent EOMs, I can confirm that, for instance in Rwanda, in Cambodia or in Yemen, we have been giving support to the respective electoral commissions. These projects resulted, then, directly from previous EU EOMs, which had identified a number of deficiencies in the electoral framework. But, in the same context, over the past years the Commission has also substantially increased the financial contributions for electoral assistance, thus building on the recommendations of the EU EOMs. This is now EUR 400 million since 2000, so this is quite a good amount.

A lot of valuable work setting the stage for electoral reform in follow-up to an EU EOM is also done by delegations of the European Commission in the country, and of course by the chief observers when they return to the country to present their final report.

Finally, as electoral reform is often very political in nature, it does not always happen very easily, and requires different actors and continuous involvement. I believe that, in addition to the chief observer, Parliament can play and very often does play a relevant role addressing electoral reform in the follow-up to the EOM.

I would therefore encourage the regular EP delegations to a country to get more involved in the matter as well, by then addressing deficiencies in the electoral framework in a context of broader institutional and democratic change. This has been the content of a first seminar between the Commission and Parliament and there will be another one later this year, I think it will be in December, between Commission and Parliament.

 
  
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  Robert Evans, author. − I thank the Commissioner, and agree with her that the election observations are some of the most useful work that the European Union does. It is high-profile work in those countries, and almost without exception it is money well spent. I have been very proud to go on a number of election observation missions over the years, most recently in Pakistan. I was actually in Sri Lanka for a delegation visit.

But I wonder if I can push the Commissioner slightly on one point: during the four or perhaps five years between one election observation mission and the next, does the EU actually offer specific help and suggestions to address any deficiencies or areas where we think that there may be a need to improve and that we can offer ideas, support and perhaps finance to make sure that countries do not repeat in one election the errors they may have made before?

 
  
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  Martin Callanan (PPE-DE). – Mr President, I would also like to agree with Mr Evans on the value of election observation missions. I too was honoured to be appointed by the Commissioner as the chief observer in the recent elections in Cambodia. I thought that the missions – as do all of the election observation missions – proved a very useful aid to the Cambodian authorities in the conducting of their election missions.

My request to the Commissioner is that she look to the resources that she has available to do even more of these missions in the future, if possible, because I also agree that they are an extremely valuable, attention-raising measure. They are highly valued by the countries where they take place and also by the heads of state in the various missions.

 
  
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  Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the Commission. − Firstly, may I just say that recommendations for the long term and for the next elections are precisely the area on which we should all work together more.

This is because some countries have taken up those recommendations while others have not, and the recommendations should enter more into our country reports and into the evaluation by the delegations and by the European Parliament delegations.

In response to the second question, if there were a much bigger budget, then we would go to many more countries, but I have to make a selection. I try to make a selection according to the budget, which has to cover Africa, Asia, Latin America and, as long as we are invited, the countries of the Maghreb and Arab countries, where I think we should go more often, because owing to our – in principle – objectivity, we have a very good standing.

 
  
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  Presidente. − Pergunta n.º 50 do Deputado David Martin (H-0543/08)

Assunto: Retenção dos fundos de impostos palestinianos por Israel

Que medidas tomou a Comissão no sentido de impedir que Israel retenha os fundos de impostos palestinianos?

 
  
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  Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the Commission. − I believe the honourable Member is referring to the delay in the monthly transfer of customs revenues which Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. The last delay dates back to the month of June, and it followed almost immediately the sending of a letter by Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad in which he objected to the ongoing discussions on the further development of relations between the EU and Israel.

At the time, the delay in transferring tax and customs revenues was raised at the highest levels, and I myself also raised this question with the Foreign Minister.

I asked Israel to execute the payment which was due to the Palestinians and, finally, I must say – and I can say – the transfer was made a week later than normally.

Since then, no further instances of delays in transferring tax funds have been reported to the Commission.

 
  
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  David Martin, author. − I thank the Commissioner for her reply and for the fact that she did take action, and the action came after I put down the question. She will understand that there is a long delay between putting questions down and getting answers.

But I want to reinforce the point that this money is Palestinian money. It is not under any circumstances Israeli money for them to withhold. Holding on to it is tantamount to theft, if not of the money then of the interest. It is used regularly as blackmail against the Palestinians, and I hope the Commission will continue to press the Israelis to release this money as soon as it is due to the Palestinians, rather than using it as yet another political tool.

 
  
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  Reinhard Rack (PPE-DE). – Es ist schön, dass dieses Problem offensichtlich rasch und prompt gelöst werden konnte. Nur eine Rückfrage: Wir haben seinerzeit des Öfteren das Problem gehabt, dass Gelder, die die Palästinensische Behörde verwendet hat, möglicherweise nicht so verwendet wurden, wie sich das die Geber vorgestellt hatten. Sind auch diese Probleme in der Zwischenzeit bereinigt?

 
  
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  Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Member of the Commission. − In response to the first comment, there have indeed been long delays in recent years regarding Palestinian money – and I agree with you that it is Palestinian money – but I have always tried when it was necessary – and very often the Palestinians asked me to do so – to intervene personally in order to get the money unblocked. This could take a long time and there were periods when it was really very difficult, but I always tried. I agree with you that this also has to be done in the future.

Herr Abgeordneter Rack! Ich kann Ihnen ganz klar versichern, dass die Art und Weise, wie wir unser Geld an die Palästinenser liefern – früher durch den so genannten TIM, den Temporary International Mechanism, und jetzt durch den Finanzmechanismus PEGASE –, so gestaltet ist, dass wir volle Kontrolle haben. Ich glaube, das war auch das Wesentliche.

Im Übrigen haben sogar die Israelis jetzt diesen Single Treasury Account, dieses einzige Konto des Finanzministeriums benützt, um darauf israelische Gelder zu überweisen. Mit Salam Fajad als Finanz- und Premierminister haben wir hier auch eine Person, die das Vertrauen der internationalen Gemeinschaft hat. Aber wir haben vor allem selber unsere eigenen Kontrollen vorgenommen, und ich achte, soweit ich persönlich kann, sehr genau darauf. Meine Delegation hat hier ein eigenes System und ein eigenes Team aufgebaut, damit es zu keinen Unregelmäßigkeiten kommt.

 
  
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  Presidente. − As perguntas que, por falta de tempo, não obtiveram resposta obtê-la-ão ulteriormente por escrito (ver Anexo).

 
  
  

(A sessão é suspensa às 19H10 e reiniciada às 21 horas)

 
  
  

PRESIDENZA DELL'ON. MARIO MAURO
Vicepresidente

 
  

(1) JO L 142 de 30.4.2004, p. 12.

Ultima actualizare: 16 decembrie 2008Notă juridică