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Parliamentary questions
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24 June 2008
by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL)
to the Commission

 Subject: Possible exclusion of the Åland Islands from the territory of the EU as a result of their inhabitants' expected refusal to approve the revision of the EU Treaties
 Answer in writing 

1. Can the Commission confirm that the Member State Finland does not have the legal power to enforce the EU‑imposed ban on snuff (‘snus’) directly in the highly autonomous island region known as ‘Landskapet Åland’/‘Ahvenanmaan Maakunta’, but was not prepared to defend the islanders' position in the face of an infringement procedure initiated by the Commission, which will give rise to a restriction on the islands' autonomy?

2. Does this mean that, on the basis of the judgment handed down by the Court of Justice of the European Communities in May 2006 in Case C‑343/05, the EU can impose a fine of at least EUR 4 million on the autonomous region if it continues to apply the derogation granted to Sweden concerning the availability of ‘snus’?

3. What steps can be taken to ensure that EU membership does not serve to undermine the powers and veto rights granted by Member States to their autonomous regions, particularly as these regions cannot defend themselves before the Court of Justice and have no seats in the European Parliament?

4. Is the Commission aware that, as a result of the anger felt by the islanders at this attack on the independence granted to them by the League of Nations in 1921, a majority of the members of the Åland Islands Parliament (Lagting) intend to use their power to reject and therefore block Finland's approval of any revision of the EU Treaties, thereby preventing Finland from ratifying the Lisbon Treaty as planned before the end of June 2008?

5. Is the Commission aware that Finland may respond to this rejection by the Lagting by declaring that it will ratify the Lisbon Treaty retrospectively by amending the status of the Åland Islands vis-à-vis the EU, whereby they would remain part of Finland, but would no longer be part of EU territory, in the same way as parts of Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, which of their own choice are not part of the EU?

6. What changes can local inhabitants expect as a result of the possible exclusion of the Åland Islands from the EU, particularly as the autonomous region itself has no wish to leave the EU?

7. In the light of the Commission's answer to my Written Question E‑0834/06, does a Member State have the power to exclude an autonomous region situated within a Member State from the EU against the wishes of its elected administrative authorities, and who then has the power to conclude agreements on future relations between that region and the EU?

Original language of question: NLOJ C 40, 18/02/2009
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