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Official Journal of the European Communities Debates of the European Parliament 1998/99 Session. Report of proceedings from 16 to 20 November 1998

De
352 pages
ISSN 0378-5041 Annex Official Journal of the European Communities No 4-528 English edition Debates of the European Parliament 1998/99 Session Report of proceedings from 16 to 20 November 1998 Europe House, Strasbourg General contents Sitting of Monday, 16 November 1998 1. Resumption of the session, p. 1 - 2. Approval of the Minutes, p. 1-3. Order of busi­ness, p. 3 - 4. MED Programmes, p. 5 - 5. Combating fraud - Protection of the euro -Action against organised crime, p. 10 - 6. Safer use of Internet, p. 19-7. Clinical tri­als, p. 22 Sitting of Tuesday, 17 November 1998 29 1. Approval of the Minutes, p. 31 -. Decision on urgent procedure, p. 32 - 3. Court of Auditors annual report, p. 32 - 4. Employment in the Union, p. 44 - 5. Social action programme 1998-2000, p. 55 - 6. VOTES, p. 55 - 7. Social action programme 1998-2000 (continuation), p. 62 - 8. Social dialogue, p. 68 - 9. New Transatlantic Marketplace, p. 73 - 10. Question Time (Commission), p. 84 - 11. Budget lines for human rights, p. 98 - 12. Patents, p. 104 - 13. Supplementary pensions, p. 106 -14. Vehicles with more than 8 seats, p. 111 - 15. Aerospace industry, p. 113-16. Euro coins, p. 118 Sitting of Wednesday, 18 November 1998 170 1. Approval of the Minutes, p.1 - 2. Agenda 2000, p. 172 - 3. Welcome, p. 179 -4. Pre-accession strategy, p.9 - 5. Welcome, p. 191 - 6. VOTES, p. 192 -7. Welcome, p. 193 - 8. VOTES (continuation), p. 193 - 9. Welcome, p. 194 -10. VOTES (continuation), p.
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ISSN 0378-5041
Annex Official Journal
of the
European Communities
No 4-528
English edition Debates of the European Parliament
1998/99 Session
Report of proceedings
from 16 to 20 November 1998
Europe House, Strasbourg
General contents Sitting of Monday, 16 November 1998
1. Resumption of the session, p. 1 - 2. Approval of the Minutes, p. 1-3. Order of busi­
ness, p. 3 - 4. MED Programmes, p. 5 - 5. Combating fraud - Protection of the euro -
Action against organised crime, p. 10 - 6. Safer use of Internet, p. 19-7. Clinical tri­
als, p. 22
Sitting of Tuesday, 17 November 1998 29
1. Approval of the Minutes, p. 31 -. Decision on urgent procedure, p. 32 - 3. Court
of Auditors annual report, p. 32 - 4. Employment in the Union, p. 44 - 5. Social action
programme 1998-2000, p. 55 - 6. VOTES, p. 55 - 7. Social action programme 1998-
2000 (continuation), p. 62 - 8. Social dialogue, p. 68 - 9. New Transatlantic
Marketplace, p. 73 - 10. Question Time (Commission), p. 84 - 11. Budget lines for
human rights, p. 98 - 12. Patents, p. 104 - 13. Supplementary pensions, p. 106 -
14. Vehicles with more than 8 seats, p. 111 - 15. Aerospace industry, p. 113-16. Euro
coins, p. 118
Sitting of Wednesday, 18 November 1998 170
1. Approval of the Minutes, p.1 - 2. Agenda 2000, p. 172 - 3. Welcome, p. 179 -
4. Pre-accession strategy, p.9 - 5. Welcome, p. 191 - 6. VOTES, p. 192 -
7. Welcome, p. 193 - 8. VOTES (continuation), p. 193 - 9. Welcome, p. 194 -
10. VOTES (continuation), p. 194 - 11. Pre-accession strategy (continuation), p. 207 -
12. Structural Funds, p. 211 - 13. Situation in Central America and EU action,
p. 229 - 14. Developments in Middle East peace process, p. 237 - 15. Structural Funds
(continuation), p. 245 - 16. CAP, EAGGF, p. 256 NOTE TO READER
Parallel editions will also be appearing in the following official languages of the Union:
Danish. German, Greek, Spanish, French. Italian. Dutch. Portuguese. Finnish and
Swedish. The English edition contains the original texts of the interventions in English
and an English translation, provided by freelance translators, of those made in other
languages. In these cases, the following letters appear in brackets after the name of the
speaker to indicate the language spoken: (DA) for Danish. (DE) for German. (EL) for
Greek, (ES) for Spanish, (ER) for French, (IT) for Italian, (NL) for Dutch, (PT) for
Portuguese, (EI) for Finnish and (SV) for Swedish.
The original texts of these interventions appear in the edition published in the language
spoken.
Dntents (continued) Sitting of Thursday, 19 November 1998 277
1. Statement by the President, p.9 - 2. VOTES, p. 280 - 3. Displaced persons,
p. 297 - 4. Topical and urgent debate, p. 305 - 5. VOTES, p. 320 - 6. Displaced per­
sons (continuation), p. 323 - 7. Visas/Airport transit, p. 325
Sitting of Friday, 20 November 1998 329
1. Approval of the Minutes, p. 329-2. VOTES, p. 330-3. Illicit manufacture of drugs,
p. 332 - 4. WTO: financial services, p. 336 - 5. Book pricing in Germany and Austria,
p. 338 - 6. Adjournment of the session, p. 345
Abbreviations used for Political Groups as shown following the name of the speaker
(PSE) Group of the Party of the European Socialists
(PPE)p of the European People"s Party (Christian-Democratic Group)
(UPE)p of the Union for Europe
(ELDR) Group of the European Liberal Democratic and Reformist Party
(GUE/NGL) Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left
(V) Green Group in the European Parliament
(ARE) Group of the European Radical Alliance
(I-EDN)p of Independents for a Europe of Nations
(NI) Non-attached Members
Resolutions adopted at the sitting of 16-20.11.1998 appear in the Official Journal
of the European Communities C379 of 20.11.1998 Debates of the European Parliament No 4-528/1 16.11.98
SITTING OF MONDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 1998
Contents
1. Resumption of the session - 1
2. Approval of the Minutes
Janssen van Raay, Striby, Carnero González, Pompidou, Nassauer, Killilea,
Guinebertière, Puerta, Thomas, Lindqvist
3. Order of business
Posselt, Dell'Alba, Oomen-Ruijten, Graenitz, Spencer, Aelvoet, Colino Salamanca,
Rosado Fernandes, Graefe zu Baringdorf 3
4. MED Programmes
Fabra Vallés, Wemheuer, Theato, Kjer Hansen, Pompidou, Miranda, Holm,
Dell'Alba, Fabre-Aubrespy, Sarlis, Liikanen (Commission) 5
5. Combating fraud - Protection of the euro - Action against organised crime
Schmid, Cederschiöld, Michalek (Council), Mendes Bota, Schaffner, Svensson,
SchÖrling, Pradier, Buffetaut, Hager, Ford, Pirker, Gallagher, Vanhecke, Schmid,
Pomés Ruiz, Liikanen (Commission) 10
6. Safer use of Internet
Schmid, Iversen, Cederschiöld, Thors, Dupuis, Ford, De Esteban Martin, Neyts-
Uyttebroeck, Liikanen (Commission), Schmid9
7. Clinical trials
Amadeo, Heinisch, Needle, Valverde López, Dybkjær, Cabrol, Ephremidis, Breyer,
Correia, Liese, Poggiolini, Schleicher, Trakatellis, Liikanen (Commission) 22
IN THE CHAIR: MR GIL-ROBLES Janssen van Raay (UPE). - (NL) I should like it to be ex­
plicitly recorded in the Minutes that I said in Brussels that
President
it is not only for reasons of principle that I am no longer
voting in roll-call votes - which I have not done for some
(The sitting was opened at 5.05 p.m.)
time -, but also for taxation reasons. I repeat: Dutch taxa­
tion reasons. I should like this to be recorded.
1. Resumption of the session
President - Thank you, Mr Janssen van Raay, that will
be done.
President - I declare resumed the session of the Euro­
pean Parliament adjourned on Thursday, 5 November Striby (I-EDN). - (FR) Mr President, I do not want to
1998. speak about the Minutes, but I would like to ask you when
the new parliament will be completed. Is the IPE4, which
is still a 'forbidden city', something out of a science fic­
2. Approval of the Minutes
tion novel? We are still here today in this lovely Hémicy­
cle, which we are, of course, attached to, since we cannot
President - The Minutes of the sitting of Thursday,
sit in the new building. We hear rumours here and we
5 November 1998 have been distributed.
wait. When will the inaugural sitting be held? Will it be in
Are there any comments? December, February or the summer of 1999? No 4-528/2 Debates of the European Parliament 16.11.98
Striby
Why are there such delays? We accept the argument that thy of commendation. However, it must be undertaken on
the complex process of moving in must be as well organ­ an individual level. It is not for a parliamentary body to
ised as possible, but I sincerely hope that it not a matter launch it, though every assistance and support should of
once again of politicking against Strasbourg. Mr Presi­ course be offered.
dent, we expect a clear response explaining all this waver­
Pompidou (UPE). - (FR) Mr President, I would like to
ing that damages Parliament's image of rigour, efficiency
speak at this public sitting this evening in my capacity as
and credibility.
chairman of Parliament's Delegation for relations with
Japan. In the framework of the bilateral exchanges and President - What I can tell you, Mr Striby, is that the
meetings organised by the European Parliament, particu­building is not yet ready for occupation. Clearly, the com­
larly by Parliament's sessional services, we are receiving pany which had the task of constructing of the building
an official visit from an important delegation of seven should have made it available to Parliament last January.
members of the Japanese Diet and four members of the Parliament is not responsible for the fact that it is still not
Japanese Senate, including two former ministers, this ready, since it has not yet been certified by the relevant
week in Strasbourg. authorities or the architects. For our part, we are doing our
utmost to cooperate with the city of Strasbourg and the
According to the agenda, there are votes being held on
French Government so that it can be completed as soon as
Thursday morning. But on Thursday morning we also possible, in accordance with the regulations which apply.
have a meeting that is authorised by the sessional serv­
Once this has been done, we shall carry out our share of
ices, which was even organised by Parliament's sessional
the dataprocessing work for Parliament and inaugurate
services, during the votes on Agenda 2000. Therefore, I
the building as soon as possible. However, I cannot give
find myself caught between two stools. This is not a seri­
you a date. That is outside our control.
ous problem for me personally, as I have accepted my re­
sponsibilities and have decided, as chairman of the dele­Carnero González (GUE/NGL). - (ES) Mr President, I
gation, to attend the meeting, but there is a risk that I took the liberty of writing to you last week on the situa­
might be there on my own. Short of cutting themselves in tion in Central America. As each day passes it becomes
two, my colleagues are, in fact, either going to have to ap­clearer that the loss of life and physical damage experi­
pear impolite towards our Japanese guests or show a lack enced in that region have indeed been of biblical propor­
of consistency with the decision we had taken not to plan tions.
any meetings of Parliament's official bodies during vot­
The citizens of the Member States - Spain, for instance - ing time. I am in a situation where I feel totally schizo­
are making an enormous effort to express their solidarity phrenic and, although I am a doctor, I am having trouble
with the people of Central America. In keeping with this sorting myself out. I would like to have a response on this
effort, I suggested in my letter to you that the Members of matter, Mr President.
the European Parliament should open a special account.
President - Normally there are no votes at that time on Members could pay their own contributions into such an
Thursday, Mr Pompidou, except in the case of those on account, and also any donations made through reputable
the budget. This is a quite exceptional situation because of non-governmental organisations to help rebuild the area.
the large number of votes to be taken on Agenda 2000. This symbolic gesture would supplement the effort the
That could not be foreseen when the time was fixed for European Community is already making to respond to the
the meeting of your delegation. We shall look into the situation.
matter and see what can still be done at such short notice,
I believe that on this occasion Members of the European and I will keep you informed.
Parliament should show they are on the same wavelength
Nassauer (PPE). - (DE) Mr President, would you please as the citizens and join with them in expressing solidarity
have it recorded in the Minutes that today I found my of­with the victims.
fice ransacked and full of broken glasses and a radio miss­
I wonder, Mr President, if you are now in a position to ing, even though I had locked the office doors after the
voice your response to this letter I sent you last week. last part-session and, interestingly enough, found them
locked again today. Would you please also record the
President - Thank you, Mr Carnero. The matter was put
question I am now putting to you in the Minutes: when
before Parliament's Bureau, as you requested in your let­
will we finally be able to get on with our work without
ter. The Bureau felt it was not appropriate for it - or, in­
fear of the kind of violent attacks that occurred in Brussels
deed, for Parliament - to open such an account, and that
or break-ins into our offices?
problems could well arise in connection with the Finan­
cial Regulation. However, if one or several Members (Applause) *
were to take up your suggestion, we would publicise their
President - Mr Nassauer, I hope you have informed the initiative, drawing it to Members' attention so they could
security services of this incident. I should reassure you contribute if they wished.
that to date, Parliament's security services have almost al­
I am sure many of us have already made a contribution ways resolved such incidents successfully. I trust this will
through these organisations, as have large numbers of our not prove to be an exception and that the culprits will be
fellow citizens in the Member States. Nevertheless, the identified. Should it appear necessary to tighten up on se­
sort of initiative you suggest is always welcome and wor­ curity, the appropriate measures will of course be intro-Debates of the European Parliament No 4-528/3 16.11.98
President
duced. Thank you for informing us of the incident. It will Thomas (PSE). - Mr President, as you are aware, re­
be noted in the Minutes and the security services in­ cently I presented a report to Parliament on the banana re­
formed so that they can take appropriate action immedi­ gime. It was overwhelmingly supported with quite a lot of
ately. common consent within this House and was passed on to
the Commission. We now have complaints from the
Killilea (UPE). - (EN) Mr President, I would like to ask United States in the guise of Chiquita, who are attacking
the Commission when they propose to deal with the re­ the Commission and the proposals that the Commission
port which was commissioned by DG XIV - reference finally brought forward after the original complaint from
PEM/306 - concerning the physical interaction between the WTO.
grey seals, fishing gear and the abnormal predatory condi­
As a matter of concern, would the Commission be willing tions of the seals in the North Atlantic, the North-West
to come and explain to us how they are dealing with Chiq­Atlantic and now penetrating into the South Atlantic.
uita's complaint?
It is about time that the Commission had the courage to
President - Mr Thomas, ljust told Mr Killilea that is not present that report and its scientific findings to Parliament
the way to put questions to the Commission. You know so that we can deal with that particular matter. Predatory
the way to puts to the, so use it. behaviour of seals around the Irish and Scottish coasts
amounts to the total allowable catch plus one quarter.
Lindqvist (ELDR). - (SV) I did follow the procedure you
Something has to be done soon and we have to face up to
just outlined and put down two questions - one to the
it. I ask the Commission to act with haste. Commission and one to Council - on building costs in
Strasbourg and Brussels...
President - Mr Killilea, you know perfectly well that
that is not the way to put a question to the Commission. (The President cut the speaker off)
President - This is not the time to put questions to the There are several ways of putting your question. This is
not the right time to ask it. You can ask it in one of the dif­ committee, nor to the Council. You cannot have the floor.
ferent ways provided for in the Rules.
President - Since there are no further comments, the
Minutes are approved. (') Guinebertière (UPE). - (FR) Mr President, I would also
like to make a point concerning working conditions be­
cause for the second time my trunk has not arrived. Each
3. Order of business time I put all the files I need here in the trunk and when I
arrive, I find out that it is still in Brussels. This is very in­
President. - The next item is the order of business. convenient because all my documents for work are in that
trunk. Posselt (PPE). - (DE) Mr President, I just wanted to
make a point of order. I have heard that Question Time to
What is happening is that my office is on a corner and it
the Council is to be deleted this week. I regard this both as
must clearly get in the way, because people put it away in
an infringement of Rule 41(1) of the Rules of Procedure
the photocopying room. When the removal men come,
and as an infringement of the Treaty, which specifically
they obviously forget the trunk. I therefore took it out of
guarantees us the right to put questions. The right to put
there and put a label on it to let people know that when my
questions is one of the most important, individual parlia­
trunk is put away in the photocopying room, it is not taken
mentary rights and I believe no Conference of Presidents,
to Strasbourg. I presume that the removal men saw the
not even in this House, can simply cancel that right; we
second part of that note saying that it is not taken to Stras­
have a right to a monthly Question Time to the Council. I
bourg. And I still do not have my trunk!
and many other colleagues have tabled important ques­
tions to the Council within the deadline. Let me insist that
President - We shall take that up with the department
we have this Question Time. If the Council wants to make
which is responsbile, Mrs Guinebertière.
statements, which are often merely upgraded press con­
ferences, that is fine by me, but not in the place of Ques­Puerta (GUE/NGL). - (ES) Mr President, I must first
tion Time, which is a key right of every Member of Par­apologise for my somewhat late arrival. Unfortunately,
liament. due to the considerable difficulties involved in reaching
Strasbourg by air, many Members have arrived three
President - Mr Posselt, according to the Rules of Proce­
hours late.
dure you invoke, and in order to safeguard that fundamen­
tal right, the political groups may propose changes to the Secondly, I should like to express my group's concern
agenda agreed by the Conference of Presidents. On expiry over the arrest in Italy of Mr Abdullah Ocalan, who is in
of the deadline, no request had been tabled for Question danger of being extradited to Turkey. We are all aware of
Time to the Council to be reinstated on the agenda for this the European Parliament's policy on supporting human
rights, political rights in Turkey and the rights of the
Kurdish people. My group believes it would be appropri­
') Verification of credentials - Membership of Parliament - Member­
ate to take the necessary action to ensure that Abdullah
ship of committees - Documents received - Texts of agreements for­
Ocalan, who declared a unilateral cease-fire some months warded by the Council - Petitions - Referral to committees: see
ago, is not extradited to Turkey from a European country. Minutes. Debates of the European Parliament No 4­528/4 16.11.98
President
part­session. I am sorry. I cannot act without a request for Graenitz (PSE). ­ (DE) Mr President, let me justify my
the agenda to be changed. It is not in my power to do so. motion to postpone the Commission statement on the
Buenos Aires climate conference on the grounds that I
and the Members who took part in this conference on be­
Strasbourg
half of Parliament decided, after talking the matter over,
that it would be more sensible to prepare carefully for this
Monday: no changes
αϊβομβείοη in the appropriate committees; that would al­
low us to conclude with a motion for a resolution which , Mr Dell'Alba has the floor.
was not drafted in haste, straight after hearing the out­
Dell'Alba (ARE). ­ (FR) Mr President, I have no objec­ come of the conference, but was based on careful and de­
tions to the draft agenda for Monday, but I would like to tailed preparation. I would ask the House to endorse my
know if it is true that the Conference of Presidents has group's motion, so that Parliament's views can have some
taken a decision concerning the legal basis of the Fabra substance, rather than being put forward in a rush.
Vallés report.
Spencer (PPE). - Mr President, I led the Parliamentary
President ­ Yes, Mr Dell'Alba, and the Conference of delegation to Buenos Aires. I absolutely endorse the pro­
Presidents has established that Article 206 was not the ap­ posal that we take our time in responding to what was a
propriate legal basis for the report. This report will there­ very complex outcome in Buenos Aires. It missed failure
fore be put to the vote by simple and not absolute major­ by a very narrow margin. It was Mr Linkhorst's sugges­
ity, and will not entail either approval or rejection of the tion, as one of the other members of the delegation, that
Commission's management. The Conference of Presi­ rather than going straight to a debate in plenary we should
dents instructed me to convey to the president of the sit­ attempt to have a discussion in at least the three commit­
ting its wish that this should be made very clear when the tees most clearly responsible, draft a careful resolution
vote is taken. However, I am grateful that you have given and come back either in December and January. That is
me the opportunity to do that now. certainly the opinion of Commissioner Bjerregaard, so I
endorse the idea.
Tuesday:
Aelvoet (V). - (NL) Mr President, we addressed this
President ­ The PPE Group has asked for the Ferri re­
question last week in a perfectly normal manner. It was
port on supplementary pensions to be brought forward
handled positively at the meeting of General Secretaries
from Thursday and placed after the Añoveros Trias de
and at the Conference of Presidents. Anybody who has
Bes report on promoting innovation through patents.
looked at the media today and also over last weekend will
know that it is now and not in January that the public de­Is there a speaker from the PPE Group in favour of this re­
bate is taking place. It is inconceivable to me that the Eu­quest?
ropean Parliament would not be able to make an initial
Mrs Oomen­Ruijten has the floor. political assessment of the outcome of Buenos Aires last
week. If we wait until January to come up with a very n (PPE). ­ (NL) Mr President, we made
searching, very balanced and very detailed response, we this request because the Ferri report goes very well with
will find that nobody is listening any more. On the basis and the Añoveros report, I and II. It is a very difficult re­
of the information currently available we are perfectly port covering very complex issues relating to pensions. It
able to adopt a brief, well-founded political position this is better to be able to count on the largest possible pres­
week while the matter is still in the news and not when it ence when voting on it.
is past history. It is now that we must react, it is the Euro­
(Parliament approved the request) pean Union which has shouldered its responsibilities on
this issue and it is this European Parliament which must
Wednesday: no changes
now make its voice heard.
Thursday:
President - Thank you, Mrs Aelvoet.
President. ­ The Group of the Party of European Social­
I put to the vote the request from the Group of the Party of
ists has asked for the Commission statement on the results
European Socialists
of the Buenos Aires summit on climate change to be post­
poned. It has also requested the inclusion, after the report (Parliament approved the request)
by Mr Wiebenga on displaced persons, of the report by
Friday: Mr Lehne on airport transit arrangements which is cur­
rently entered on Friday, so that the agenda for Thursday President - The Group of the Party of European Social­
would be as follows: from 9.30 a.m. to 1 p.m., 3 p.m. to 4 ists has requested the removal of the debate on the oral
p.m. and 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. we would have first voting time, questions on BSE in Portugal.
and then the Wiebenga report and the Lehne report. Be­
Colino Salamanca (PSE), chairman of the Committee on tween 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. there would still be the topical
Agriculture and Rural Development. - (ES) Mr President, and urgent debate, reduced to two hours and without re­
I should like to express my view as chairman of the Com­turning to the normal length of three hours.
mittee on Agriculture and Rural Development. This issue
Is there a speaker in favour? has already been discussed in committee, first in the pres-Debates of the European Parliament 16.11.98 No 4-528/5
Colino Salamanca
ary Control, on repercussions in the case of the MED pro­enee of Mr Heine when the Veterinary Committee arrived
at its decision and more recently, just a few days ago, grammes.
when the Commissioner himself was present at our com­
Fabra Vallés (PPE), rapporteur. - (ES) Mr President, mittee meeting.
the Spanish Secretary of State for Development Coopera­
I am not aware of any further developments that would tion, Mr Fernando Villalonga, published an excellent arti­
justify this request for inclusion on the agenda. As far as cle in the press last week entitled 'Felling the rotten tree to
we are concerned, this would serve no useful purpose. save the forest'. This age-old idea encapsulates the think­
ing behind my. report. Through the resolution dated 31
Rosado Fernandes (UPE). - (PT) Mr President, I asked
March this year, Parliament entrusted me with its prepara­
for this oral question to be included in the agenda since, in
tion, and I can assure you that it has been one of the least
my opinion, the situation in Portugal is sufficiently seri­
pleasant duties I have had to carry out in my 20 years as
ous to justify that.
an elected representative.
After all, despite our meetings in the Committee on Agri­
Clearly, it is not and never has been the intention of Par­
culture, the decision on the Portuguese meat embargo was
liament, its Committee on Budgetary Control, or myself
taken at an extraordinary meeting for which I did not re­
as rapporteur to obstruct the policy for decentralised co­ceive - nor did some of my colleagues - the respective
operation with Mediterranean countries. Such coopera­agenda containing the item on the statement by Dr Heine,
tion aims to strengthen direct contacts with universities,
even though the Chairman of that committee told us here
cities, local groups and journalists in those countries, en­
that it was sent to all Members. Dr Heine made a last-
abling the peoples on both shores of the Mediterranean to
minute appearance to announce the reasons for the em­
become acquainted, exchange views, and understand bargo. Everyone knew that many Members of the Euro­
each other better. Our intention has always been to pre­pean Parliament would be unable to attend as it was an ex­
serve such important cooperation, and to strengthen and
traordinary meeting arranged at the last minute. That is
improve its foundations.
why I have asked for a debate to be held here.
In this context, I must remind you that it was not Parlia­It should be made clear that this is not only an issue for the
ment but the Commission - Commissioner Marin himself Portuguese but also relates to how the Commission acts in
- that ordered such cooperation to cease at the end of this kind of situation, a very serious situation for all Por­
1995. In my opinion, this was entirely justified, following tuguese meat producers. That is why I tabled an oral ques­
as it did a most critical report from the Court of Auditors, tion on behalf of my group.
whose inves'tigation had revealed very serious irregulari­
President. - Thank you, Mr Rosado Fernandes. ties.
Do you wish to speak in favour or against, Mr Graefe zu Since this report became public, Parliament has done eve­
Baringdorf? rything necessary to restore the credibility of this policy
and allow it to be relaunched, from the month of April. I Graefe zu Baringdorf (V). - (DE) Mr President, I am in
am grateful for the Commission's efforts in this regard, favour of keeping this item on the agenda, and wouldadd
Mr Liikanen. Nevertheless, it also has to be said, Mr Li­that our oral question has not been included injt. How­
ikanen, that if we really want to save the forest we have to ever, we have been told that it will be included in the final
be sure to fell all the diseased trees. And, before felling version of the agenda. So we also have an oral question on
them, we also have to be sure that we have identified them BSE, and I am very much in favour of debating this item.
all first.
President. - Thank you, Mr Graefe zu Baringdorf.
In this connection, I want to make it quite clear that on the
1 put to the vote the request from the PSE Group. basis of the documentation received and studied, it does
not appear that there are grounds for bringing criminal (Parliament approved the request)
charges against those in authority at the Commission's
'North-South' Directorate- General.
Brussels
Thanks to the information made available by Mr Marin,
we know that the Commission has paid ECU 600 000 for 2 and 3 December: no changes
the projects to be audited. You are aware of this too, as
(The order of business was adopted thus amended) (') you have had the findings on your desk since September.
On the basis of the European Commission's own criteria,
experts at the London firm that carried out the audit have
4. MED Programmes
identified costs totalling ECU 4 million that ought to be
recovered. They have also identified a further sum of over
President - The next item is the report ( A4-0404/98) by
ECU 20 million and additional checks will have to be
Mr Fabra Vallés, on behalf of the Committee on Budget-
done in this respect, not to mention the total of ECU
2.2 million to be recovered from the technical assistance
firms. A further and as yet unknown sum must be added ') Request for urgent procedure - Deadlines for separate and split votes
- Topical and urgent debate (subjects proposed): see Minutes. to this total. The exact amount will become known when Debates of the European Parliament No 4-528/6 16.11.98
Fabra Vallés
we receive details of the audit from financial control con­ belong, namely by the national judicial authorities. So let
cerning the MED-LINK aid offices. me ask again, and for the last time in this form, please
make all the files available to the judicial authorities and
Commissioner, I am about to conclude, but I must first do not say, as also happened again with ECHO: first the
call on you to show some courage, courage enough to rec­ Commission decides whether there is a case to answer,
ognise that you have been mistaken or misinformed as to and then it also decides what facts are relevant to resolv­
the true extent of the problems and the sums concerned. ing or clarifying that case.
You now have the opportunity to inform us that you are
going to pass the whole file on to the judicial authorities. We would not be so persistent - as shown by my refer­
I urge you to take advantage of this opportunity, because ence to ECHO - if this were a one-off case. But it is a
it is not for the European Commission or for Parliament to problem we have been facing for quite some time. Hence
decide whether or not punishable offences have been our persistence here, the persistence of the rapporteur but
committed. That is a matter for the judicial authorities. It also of the Committee on Budgetary Control and, in the
is a simple and fundamental principle that Parliament end, of the House itself.
confirmed once again in its resolution on the discharge on
We all regret having to keep doing this. We hope we will
31 March this year. Furthermore, it is an obligation the
come to a conclusion now and take a decision. I think per­
European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has confirmed
haps we will, and we must also undertake to review these by case-law.
questions in depth in connection with the discharge. We
must be prepared to do so, the Commission must be pre­It is not only an obligation, it is a necessity, because it is a
pared to do so, but so must the Court of Auditors. I think very complicated file, and many individuals are involved.
we will also be discussing our relations with the Court of Given the resources and rights it has, or rather does not
Auditors today and considering how rapidly we can deal have, at its disposal, UCLAF cannot successfully under­
with the questions that arise from this. After all, this re­take an investigation of this magnitude without the sup­
port also shows that there is no point spending too long port of the judicial authorities.
and too much time on formalities.
If matters take this course, I shall be able to say that I am
We have asked enough specific questions in committee in favour of granting the discharge where this issue is con­
and had to wait too long for answers. That is another rea­cerned, and at the same time, you will have the chance of
son why we have had to come back to the same question restoring the credibility the Commission has been losing
twice in the space of about a year. We shall have to find over the last few weeks.
other ways; they will be more precise and will certainly
(Applause) not involve any lesser degree of care.
Wemheuer (PSE). - (DE) Mr President, ladies and gen­ Let me perhaps make a final point on a question arising
tlemen, nobody, including this Parliament, comes back to from this report but which has also come up repeatedly in
the same question twice without reason. We are not doing the past. If someone criticises the implementation of a
this to avoid boredom or because we do not know how to particular policy, it is always assumed that they are criti­
spend the day. It would have been better if we could have cising the substance of that policy area. I believe that is
clarified everything that needs clarifying in a report. But unacceptable. It is done by public opinion, but it is also
in our view some important points were not clarified, and done here in this House, and I think the two are often con­
nor have they been in the meantime, unfortunately. I am fused during the debates.
emphasising this again, although Mr Fabra Vallés has al­
Mr Fabra Vallés said it all at the outset. It was in our inter­ready made the point.
est to resume the MED programmes. We did all we could
If we assume that only a court or the appropriate judicial to enable the Commission to resume the programmes.
authority can decide whether the facts of the case consti­ That was our priority. But this could not detract from, or
tute grounds for criminal proceedings, then the judicial in a sense overshadow the fact that we are also looking at
authorities must be in possession of all the information. how they were implemented in the past, because our crit­
But then 'all' unfortunately really does mean all, because icism of their implementation is fundamental and con­
who could make a selection? The Commission's relation­ cerns the management of programmes in general and per­
ship with the Member States' judicial authorities is sim­ sonnelt in general; then, in a sense, the affair
ply different from the situation that would apply within a of the MED programmes is merely an example of some­
Member State. A special relationship, or perhaps a too thing we are criticising on principle. Then ECHO is
poorly defined relationship, exists between the Commis­ merely an example of something we are criticising on
sion, the Commission officials, the buildings, the docu­ principle, the tourism case was an example of a matter of
ments in the possession of the Commission and the other , and we must all learn that we can criticise gen­
European institutions on the one hand, and the individual eral structures on the basis of one example, and that this
national judicial authorities on the other - and obviously criticism goes far beyond the report.
only national judicial authorities can consider the case.
Theato (PPE), chairman of the Committee on Budgetary
We are aware of this difficulty, as is the rapporteur, who Control. - (DE) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, did
has taken it into account in his report. Nevertheless, we we not all believe, or at least hope, that we had finally got
must urge that decisions are taken in the place where they to the end of the long saga of the MED programmes and Debates of the European Parliament No 4-528/7 16.11.98
Theato
that the Commission had taken action, after adopting a am glad that we are agreed on an approach which is aimed
resolution on it more than a year ago and emphatically re­ at placing the responsibility on the Commission and not
peating key points of it when we postponed the discharge singling out particular officials, but insisting that it is the
in the spring? Commission which accepts the political responsibility for
the situation. It must in fact be the case that the Commis­
We were well wide of the mark! As Mr Fabra Vallés has
sion must neither cover up for its officials nor hide behind
explained, instead of improvements, we have seen new
them, but simply accept the responsibility for the fact that
information come to light which seems to show that the fi­
things are as they are.
nancial damage is far worse than we had hitherto as­
sumed. This is a very serious matter that we are dealing with to­
day. How much time and effort we have spent on this
This was discovered by a British auditing company which
which we would rather have used on other things! I can
- and we grant the Commission this - was commissioned
only deplore the course of events, because the fact is that
by Brussels to investigate completed MED programmes
we cannot close the matter with this report, but once again
and projects. The auditors are looking into about half the
have to call on the Commission to take action and once
completed projects and believe that some 4 million euros
again say what steps we in Parliament will be obliged to
can be reclaimed. Let me ask the Commission: how much
take if the Commission does not comply with our require­
money has it actually recovered so far? Have the rest of
ments.
the projects been examined now, and what amount of re­
payments does that come to? What conclusions does the I would therefore ask the Commissioner if we can have a
Commission draw from the serious defects found by the clear answer here and now as to whether the Commission
auditing firm, such as over-subsidised projects, evidence will respond to paragraph 3 of the report and take the spe­
which had disappeared and so on? Why was UCLAF not cific action which is being requested. Let us be clear to­
brought in promptly, as the rapporteur says? As regards day if it is willing to do so, or if it is simply going to cock
the financial management of the Agency for the Trans- a snook at Parliament's requests. If there is one thing that
Mediterranean Networks - ARTM — the UK auditors can shake our citizens' trust in the EU system, it is the
make a devastating assessment, as did the Court of Audi­ suspicion that certain things are not happening in accord­
tors in its special report No 1/96. ance with the rules, that irregularities are occurring, or
that some people are engaging in a cover-up. For that rea­
This brings us to one of the two main problems that led to
son, Commissioner, I cannot urge strongly enough that
the postponement of the discharge for 1996, namely the
we should bring this matter to a conclusion and see that
question of whether criminal fraud may be involved here,
the necessary action is taken, so that we can all honestly
in addition to serious irregularities. For the Commission
say that we have rectified the mistakes and the shortcom­
to entrust ARTM, an international association under Bel­
ings, as well as the procedures which are necessary to en­
gian law, with the financial management of the MED
able the Commission to live up to its responsibilities.
projects without any legal basis and without obtaining the
opinion of the legal service or of financial control, for the Pompidou (UPE). - (FR) Mr President, I am speaking
management board members also to be managers of the here on behalf of Mr Giansily who has been detained at
technical assistance agencies and to be involved in award­ another meeting. In spite of the serious and expert work
ing some project funds without tenders and thereby se­ carried out by Mr Fabra Vallés, we find the report on the
cure themselves a large slice of the cake, that is to say fat repercussions of the MED programmes affair highly un­
contracts, is to say the least an overlapping of interests, as satisfactory. In fact, we believe that, far from clarifying
is also the view of the Court of Auditors and UCLAF. the debate on the 1996 discharge, this report only makes
the issue more confusing. The irregularities discovered in
Evidently the Commission has until now disregarded the
the management of the MED programmes, which meant
clear advice of the Court of Auditors to the effect that
that these programmes were suspended until the Commis­
these kinds of facts are punishable under Belgian law. But
sion relaunched them in April, involve more than a third
this matter can only be settled by the courts, which is why
of the appropriations used and the financial loss is much
we call on the Commission for the third and last time to
greater than was first supposed.
forward the entire file to the judicial authorities, so that
they can at least examine the question of their competence As the rapporteur has clearly shown, the management of
and then, where appropriate, bring proceedings! the MED programmes shows evidence of serious man­
agement problems for which the Commission is entirely
The second question in relation to the discharge for 1996
responsible and for which it must accept the conse­
is how the Commission handles disciplinary proceedings.
quences, as provided for in the Treaties. This whole mat­
We believe that administrative inquiries and processes are
ter falls within the framework of the discharge procedure,
no substitute for disciplinary proceedings and are not the
which will be on the agenda in December. The instru­
appropriate way to prove the innocence of a possible sus­
ments the European Parliament has at its disposal to mark
pect.
its disapproval, or to punish the Commission, are the re­
Kjer Hansen (ELDR). - (DA) Mr President, let me begin fusal to grant discharge and even the censure procedure.
by thanking the rapporteur for his cooperation. In particu­ Further debate, in my view, is likely to weaken Parlia­
lar, I have been very pleased with the support there has ment's position in the vote in December and I regret the
been for a number of amendments we have tabled, and I fact that consideration of the MED programmes is not an No 4-528/8 Debates of the European Parliament 16.11.98
Pompidou
integral part of the general report by Mr Elles on the dis­ the Green Group and in Parliament as a whole, are ex­
charge. tremely upset about events surrounding the implementa­
tion of the MED programmes. It is not their content that is
Secondly, the petition to the Commission in the rappor­
in dispute, but the way in which they have been adminis­
teur's resolution is of little use when the European Parlia­
tered.
ment should judge the Commission on its financial audit­
ing rather than following it through the maze of its admin­ One of our foremost duties towards our electorate and the
istrative inquiries that are not sufficiently transparent. It is citizens of the EU is to act as a supervisory body. It is up
unfortunate that the rapporteur has not included any men­ to us to ensure that matters we discuss in this House are
tion of the link between the irregularities discovered and taken forward in a proper manner. The EU Treaties
the refusal to grant discharge, which is, however, at the clearly give us the task of exercising this supervisory role.
heart of the debate.
Since the MED programmes were last examined, new
facts have come to light. Yet the Commission has still not For our part, we are hoping for an objective debate on the
produced the information we asked for initially - and discharge for the 1996 financial year. We hope, on the one
which we need in order to fulfil our remit as a supervisory hand, that genuine and frank questions will be asked re­
body for the EU. We must have the data if the Committee garding the irregularities and the fraud committed in the
on Budgetary Control is to do its job. This is a serious implementation of the MED programmes, for which re­
matter. People could end up thinking that the Commission sponsibility lies with the Commission. And we hope, on
has something to hide. There is, after all, a possibility that the other hand, that Parliament shows no sign of weak­
its own officials might be involved in activities which ness in exercising the powers of which it is guardian on
could - at worst - entail criminal prosecution. The only behalf of Europe's citizens because, when all is said and
way for the Commission to allay such suspicions is to done, is it not ours who have been deceived in this
come forward with the relevant documentation. We in the affair?
European Parliament need the material, and so do the ju­
Miranda (GUE/NGL). - (PT) Mr President, we agree dicial authorities. This is the last chance for the Commis­
with the rapporteur as regards both his assessment of this sion.
particular case and the criticism that he levels at the Com­
The Green Group naturally supports the tough - but pat­mission. We also go along with some of his proposals.
ently necessary - conclusions drawn by the rapporteur. This is not an issue on which we are giving our opinion
for the first timé. In the light of its seriousness, in that it
refers to a collapse of the Union's financial resources -
undoubtedly far greater than was initially thought -, it is
politically embarrassing for the Commission.
IN THE CHAIR: MR HAARDER
It is therefore to be hoped, in this case as in others, that
Vice-President
there might be signs of rigour and commitment of a differ­
ent kind for preventing irregularities and fraud. We might Dell'Alba (ARE). - (FR) Mr President, last month the
expect far more firmness and swiftness in starting disci­
Committee on Budgetary Control had tabled a report by
plinary or judicial procedures against those responsible
Mr Bosch, on the basis of Article 138b of the Treaty. The
for the irregularities and fraud. Whenever there are sug­
Presidency had to make it change the legal basis. This
gestions that fraud has taken place, we might expect far month it is retabling a report by Mr Fabra Vallés on the
more transparency and, in particular, an attitude of coop­ basis of Article 206 and the Presidency has told it that an­
eration with the European Parliament, and especially with
other legal basis must be adopted. I think that this is a bit
the relevant judicial authorities in the Member States.
of a mess and I feel I must draw attention to it because, in
my opinion, if it is acceptable once, we will have to be
At this stage, we think it is very important that the Com­
more careful in the future before presenting reports before
mission should forward the whole MED case-file to the
the House.
Belgian, French and Italian courts or the European Parlia­
ment should act in its stead, making available all the evi­
The Court of Auditors has drawn up around 40 special re­
dence at its disposal and forwarding it to those national ports over the last four or five years and Parliament has
authorities. given its opinion on 10 reports in this House. As far as the
MED affair is concerned, we have already had two reports
The Commission should do this as quickly as possibly, by
and, in practice, we force the Commission to meet such
1 December, as our colleague Mr Fabra Vallés has asked.
short deadlines - by asking it, for example, to present doc­
In any case, it should do so as soon as possible and if it
uments within 10 days - that there may well be a third
does not, in my opinion, I do not see how we would grant
MED report. As a result, alongside Dynasty or Dallas, we
the Commission the discharge. When assessing the dis­
will also have the MED soap opera with all the publicity
charge, a lot of things have to be taken into consideration,
it entails. I believe that Parliament has important control
including whether or not the Commission has met our de­
instruments at its disposal and that it must handle them
mands concerning this vital issue.
well. It must not, in my view, resort to some sort of thera­
peutic persecution that hardly enhances the institutional Holm (V). - (SV) Mr President, I should like to thank Mr
balance or, more particularly, our own role. We have Fabra Vallés for this excellent report. Many of us, both in