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Official Journal of the European Communities Debates of the European Parliament 1995/96 Session. Report of proceedings from 12 to 16 February 1996

284 pages
ISSN 0378-5041 Official Journal Annex of the European Communities No 4-475 Debates of the European Parliament English edition 1995/96 Session Report of proceedings from 12 to 16 February 1996 Europe House, Strasbourg Sitting of Monday, 12 February 1996 General contents 1. Resumption of the session, p. 1 - 2. Statement by the President, p. 1 - 3. Order of business, p. 2 - 4. Waiver of parliamentary immunity, p. 4 11-7. Transport, p. 19 6. Green paper on tourism, p. 24 Sitting of Tuesday, 13 February 1996 1 Approval of the Minutes, p. 25 - 2. Decision on urgency, p. 25 - 3. Application of Community law 1994, p. 26 - 4. Equal pay, p. 34 - 5. Welcome, p. 43 -6 Structural funds - Objective 2, p. 43 - 7. Votes, p. 50 - 8. Competition policy, p. 55 - 9. Telecommunications and ONP, p. 63-10. Posting of workers - Pension rights, p. 70 - 11. Question Time (Commission), p. 74 89 Sitting of Wednesday, 14 February 1996 1 Approval of the Minutes, p. 90 - 2. Television broadcasting, p. 91 - 3. Northern Ireland peace process, p. 105 - 4. Votes, p. 112 - 5. Public health, p. 120 -6 Situation in former Yugoslavia, p. 129 - 7. Financial cooperation with Turkey, p. 136 - 8. Question Time (Council), p. 142 - 9. Situation in the Aegean Sea, p. 152 - 10. Fatwa against Salman Rushdie, p. 155 - 11. Cormorants, p. 158 -12. Protection of wild birds, p. 161 - Annex: Question Time, p.
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ISSN 0378-5041
Official Journal
of the
European Communities
No 4-475
Debates of the European Parliament
English edition
1995/96 Session
Report of proceedings
from 12 to 16 February 1996
Europe House, Strasbourg
Sitting of Monday, 12 February 1996
General contents
1. Resumption of the session, p. 1 - 2. Statement by the President, p. 1 - 3. Order
of business, p. 2 - 4. Waiver of parliamentary immunity, p. 4
11-7. Transport, p. 19 6. Green paper on tourism, p.
Sitting of Tuesday, 13 February 1996
1 Approval of the Minutes, p. 25 - 2. Decision on urgency, p. 25 - 3. Application
of Community law 1994, p. 26 - 4. Equal pay, p. 34 - 5. Welcome, p. 43 -
6 Structural funds - Objective 2, p. 43 - 7. Votes, p. 50 - 8. Competition policy,
p. 55 - 9. Telecommunications and ONP, p. 63-10. Posting of workers - Pension
rights, p. 70 - 11. Question Time (Commission), p. 74
89 Sitting of Wednesday, 14 February 1996
1 Approval of the Minutes, p. 90 - 2. Television broadcasting, p. 91 - 3. Northern
Ireland peace process, p. 105 - 4. Votes, p. 112 - 5. Public health, p. 120 -
6 Situation in former Yugoslavia, p. 129 - 7. Financial cooperation with Turkey,
p. 136 - 8. Question Time (Council), p. 142 - 9. Situation in the Aegean Sea,
p. 152 - 10. Fatwa against Salman Rushdie, p. 155 - 11. Cormorants, p. 158 -
12. Protection of wild birds, p. 161 - Annex: Question Time, p. 171 NOTE TO READER
Parallel editions will also appearing in the following official languages of the Union:
Danish, German, Greek, Spanish. French, Italian. Dutch and Portuguese. The English
edition contains the original texts of the interventions in English and anh
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,
(FR) for French, (IT) for Italian, (NL) for Dutch. (PT) for Portuguese. (Fl) for Finnish and
(SV) for Swedish.
The original texts of these interventions appear in the edition published in the language
Contents (continued) Sitting of Thursday, 15 February 1996 201
1. Approval of the Minutes, p.2 — 2. CAP prospects - Trade agreements for
agricultural producers - Starch industry, p.3 - 3. Votes, p. 216 - 4. Topical and
urgent debate, p. 225 - Extradition of Spanish citizens, p. 226 - Human Rights,
p. 230 - China/Taiwan, p. 239 - Niger, p. 241 - Disasters, p. 243 - 5. Aerospace
industry, p. 248 - 6. Mediterranean fisheries, p. 252 - 7. Fisheries agreement with
Madagascar, p. 255 - 8. Fishing in the Baltic, Belts and the Sound, p. 259 -
9. Salmon dumping, p. 260
Sitting of Friday, 16 February 1996 263
1. Approval of the Minutes, p.3 - 2. Votes, p.3 - 3. Economic aid to former
Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, p.6 - 4. Tobacco, p. 268 - 5. Aid to uprooted
people, p. 270 - 6. Aid to Moldova, p. 275 - 7. Imports of sensitive products to
the Canary Islands, p. 277 - 8. Adjournment of the session, p. 279
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
(EDN) Europe of Nations Group (Coordination Group)
(NI) Non-attached Members
Resolutions adopted at the sitting of 12 to 16 February 1996 appear in the Official
Journal of the European Communities C 65, 4.3.1996. Debates of the European Parliament No 4­475/1 12.2.96
/. Resumption of the session
2. Statement by the President
3. Order of business
Oomen­Ruijten, Nassauer, Schulz, Nassauer, de Vries, Malone, von Wogau, Papoutsis,
Bloch von Blottnitz, Van Putten
4. Waiver of parliamentary immunity
Wijsenbeek, Fayot, Ford, Β. Donnelly, Guinebertière, Nordmann, Aelvoet, Lalumière,
Jean­Pierre, Gollnisch, Cot, Todini, Jean­Pierre
5. Votes
Fayot, Bourlanges, Fabre­Aubrespy, Harrison, McKenna, Gollnisch, Ewing, Macartney,
Fontaine, Decourrière, Soulier, Stasi, Verwaerde, Péry, Wolf
6. Green paper on tourism
Harrison, Sarlis, Diez de Rivera Icaza, Baldarelli, Provan, Garosa, Pelttari, Novo, Van
Dijk, van der Waal, Lukas, Farthofer, Bennasar Tous, Vieira, Mendonça, Theonas,
Bellere, Apolinário, Schierhuber, Cornelissen, Diez de Rivera Icaza, Provan, Papoutsis
(Commission), Cornelissen, Papoutsis 11
7. Transport
Van der Waal, Castricum, Langenhagen, Wijsenbeek, Liittge, Cornelissen, N. Kinnock
(Commission) 19
The bullets that struck down Fernando Mugica were fired ΓΝ THE CHAIR: MR HANSCH
at democratic Spain and its institutions. They were fired at
the process of democratic regionalization, at the peaceful
coexistence of the peoples of Spain in security and justice.
They were therefore aimed at the ideals for which Fern­(The sitting was opened at 5 p.m.)
ando Mugica stood and to which he had devoted all his
energies since 1978. For that reason, although never in any
prominent political post, he was held in high esteem, not
I. Resumption of the session only within the ranks of his own party but also far more
widely. President. ­ I declare resumed the session of the European
Parliament adjourned on Thursday, 1 February 1996.
Our sympathy goes out to his family, his party, his Basque
Country and the whole of Spain. Exactly a year ago here in
the House, we honoured the memory of our murdered
2. Statement by the President colleague from the Basque Partido Popular, Gregorio
Ordonez. Today we renew our call to all democratic forces
President. ­ Ladies and gentlemen, I have been asked by in the Basque Country not to let themselves be intimidated.
all the groups to make a statement on behalf of our Resist terrorism, fight it, give it no quarter! The people of
Parliament on the acts of terrorism that have been perpe­ the Basque Country and of Spain can rest assured that this
trated during the past week. Last Tuesday Fernando Parliament, which is their Parliament too, is on their side ­
Mugica was killed in a busy public street in San Sebastian on the side of democracy and justice in Spain.
in front of his son and many of his fellow citizens. The
highly respected Basque Socialist, a brother of the former (Applause)
Spanish Minister of Justice Enrique Mugica, is the nine­
teenth politician to fall victim to the terrorist organization Violence and terrorism must not stand a chance anywhere
ETA since the reintroduction of democracy in Spain in in our Union. That is why we now condemn the despicable
1978. His is one of over 800 deaths for which ETA IRA bombing that took place in London at the end of last
terrorists have been responsible during that period. week. There is no justification for such terrorist acts. We No 4-475/2 Debates of the European Parliament 12.2.96
mourn the innocent victims of that senseless attack. The 3. Order of business
European Parliament has supported the peace process in
President. - The next item is the order of business. Northern Ireland with all its heart and strength, and the
Europeant will continue to do that. Our grief and
The final version of the draft agenda as drawn up by the
revulsion must not entice us to abandon the peace process.
Conference of Presidents at its meeting of 8 February 1996
We stand by the programme of the European Union for
pursuant to Rule 95 of the Rules of Procedure has been
reconciliation and reconstruction in Northern Ireland. Let it
be clearly understood that any offensive against the peace
process will only make this House more determined than Part-session in Strasbourg from 12 to 16 February:
I have asked the Council - and the Council has agreed - to
President. -The Group of the Party of European Socialists make a statement in the House during the week on this
has requested a Council statement on the peace process in cowardly bombing. The murder of Fernando Mugica by the
Northern Ireland. The motion tabled by the Group of the ETA and the IRA bomb in the heart of London are two
Party of European Socialists asks for the statement by the aspects of the same violence, which is why I repeat what I
Council and the Commission on the situation in the said a year ago in this House: any attempt on human life is
Aegean, currently listed as item 507, to be withdrawn from repulsive. Blind violence solves no problems; it only
the agenda and taken instead as part of the topical and aggravates them. Injustice never creates justice. The forces
urgent debate. of democracy in our Union must stand together. We must
give terrorism no quarter!
We can now decide, as the Group of the Party of European
Socialists proposes, to put a statement on the peace process (Applause)
in Northern Ireland on the agenda in place of the statement
Banotti (PPE). - Mr President, on behalf of my delegation by the Council and the Commission on the situation in the
I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the Aegean. As for the wish to deal with the Aegean on
relatives of the deceased in the London bombing on Friday. Thursday as part of the topical and urgent debate, the
It is without exaggeration that I tell you that the whole Group of the Party of European Socialists must table an
country of Ireland is in a deep state of mourning about the objection to the list of subjects for topical and urgent
breakdown in the peace process. It is our earnest hope that debate by tomorrow evening. We shall then vote on the
the peace process will be revived again. Spontaneous, objection at nine o'clock on Wednesday morning. I am
heartfelt demonstrations have been held throughout the only explaining the procedure. We cannot decide at this
whole of the country in response to what happened on juncture on a topical and urgent debate. We can only decide
Friday night. to withdraw the Aegean statement from the agenda and
replace it with the statement on Northern Ireland. I assume
Undoubtedly, the Irish and British Governments had seri­ that the groups agree to proceed in this way, in other words
ous differences of opinion which they were seeking to to amend the topical and urgent list so that the situation in
resolve politically. No difference of opinion can warrant
the Aegean can be dealt with on Thursday.
what happened on Friday night. I would like to express my
very sincere sympathy. I would also like to ask colleagues Oomen-Ruijten (PPE). - (NL) Mr President, I should like
here who responded so positively, so warmly and so to ask whether you would first perhaps allow Mr Nassauer
generously to the peace process to continue to do so to speak. He will be able to put a direct proposal to you as
because now more than ever we need their moral and a result of which the Nassauer debate will perhaps be rather
political support. shorter and you might possibly manage to include both
subjects in the agenda.
President. - Since both subjects concern the agenda for
President. - Mrs Banotti, ladies and gentlemen, in view of Wednesday, I can do that. Let me just set aside the Socialist
the gravity of the subject I did not interrupt you, but I Group motion for a moment and deal with the motion
should like to make something clear. When the groups ask tabled by the Group of the Party of European Socialists and
the President of this House to make a statement on their the Group of the European People's Party that Mr Nassau-
behalf, the statement must be considered to apply to the er's report be referred back to committee. To that end I now
entire House. Mrs Banotti, I fully understand your reasons, call Mr Nassauer as the rapporteur.
but as a result of your intervention I now have a number of
Members seeking leave to speak. May I ask you all to Nassauer (PPE), rapporteur. - (DE) Mr President, ladies
observe this unwritten law: when the President makes a and gentlemen, the debate on the Europol report is sched­
statement on behalf of all the groups, that is Parliament's uled for Wednesday and the vote for Thursday. However,
statement, and in such cases you are asked to refrain from 60 amendments to the report have now been received, and
further interventions. these were submitted after the basic coordination of posi­
tions had been carried out within the committee. I do not
(Applause) intend to discuss the fact that a considerable number of the
amendments have come from groups which, regrettably,
(Mrs Banotti subsequently indicated that she was with­
did not take the trouble to participate in the discussion in
drawing her remarks) (')
the committee itself.
Be that as it may, there is an objective need to speak some
') Approval of Minutes - Membership of Parliament - Membership of more about this subject. For that reason, I should like to
committees — Referral to committees - Documents received - Texts of
propose by way of a compromise that we restrict ourselves
agreements forwarded by the Council - Petitions - Transfer of appro­
priations: see Minutes to the debate on Wednesday but that we defer the vote until No 4-475/3 12.2.96 Debates of the European Parliament
a later plenary so as to give all the groups an opportunity to De Vries (ELDR). - (NL) Mr President, I support referral
discuss the topic again. I should be very grateful if the back, for the following reasons. If it is desirable for the
House were to agree to this proposal in view of the Council of Ministers to give an answer to the oral question
importance of the report and the will of Parliament to deal about the Aegean Sea, then I think that must be at a time
with the question of Europol in what I hope will prove to when the Council can be present, namely Wednesday.
be an enlightened manner.
An answer from the Council seems to me to be essential, as
it was the Council which was not represented at all during President. - Ladies and gentlemen, lead us not into
the Aegean Sea crisis. Neither the presidency nor the confusion, however great the temptation may be! The
Council reacted to the situation which almost ended in a Rules of Procedure explicitly state that referral back to
war. It is important that we, as Parliament, should discuss committee may be requested by a political group or at least
it with the Council. By referring the Nassauer report back 29 Members when the agenda is fixed or before the start of
we shall have time to debate both the Aegean Sea and other the debate or the final vote. You can request referral back
matters with the Council on Wednesday. So, in order to to committee now, but you cannott a curtailed
make extra time for this important debate, I am in favour of debate. That is not permitted! You can do that on Wednes­
referring the Nassauer report back. day when it is time to present your report, or you can do it
prior to the vote. The groups may agree to limit the debate
President. - I shall now take the vote on the request. to half an hour. What we are deciding now is the agenda.
Your proposal, Mr Nassauer, means that we do not change
(Parliament decided to refer the report back to the com­
the agenda. I do not know whether you were fully aware of
mittee responsible)
the procedural ramifications. You wanted a compromise,
but a decision cannot be taken here on the. We President. - That brings us to the second request, tabled by
arc adopting an agenda. Even if we were only to discuss the Group of the Party of European Socialists, requesting a
your report for five minutes on Thursday, that would still Council statement on the peace process in Northern Ire­
entail no change to the agenda. That is the bottom line of land. That would, of course, take place on Wednesday,
your proposal. because the Council has to be present for the statement on
Northern Ireland. Would anyone care to move or speak in
Nassauer (PPE). - (DE) Please allow me one more brief favour of the motion?
intervention, Mr President. As far as the agenda and the
Malone (PSE). - Mr President, I did not like to trespass on Rules of Procedure are concerned, you are undoubtedly
the time of the House earlier because I fully understand the correct. I wanted to try and find a compromise between
Rules and appreciate the agreement that was reached divergent interests, and I should be grateful if you would
between all parties. But I am very pleased to propose that, perhaps let Mr Schulz speak in an attempt to reach that sort
in place of the Nassauer report, the Council should make a of compromise.
statement here, to the full House, on the very unfortunate
President. - I shall not do that. I shall follow the Rules of situation that has arisen between the islands of Ireland and
Procedure, because I know that any other approach only Great Britain. Indeed, as you know, those who perpetrated
gives rise to uncertainty. There is a motion on the table by the bombing in London last Friday are not represented here
the Group of the European People's Party and the Group of by me, nor are they representative of the people I represent
the Party ofn Socialists for the report to be in Dublin, or indeed north or south of the border.
referred back. Who would like to move the proposal now
It is appropriate that the issue should be debated here in this that we have heard the rapporteur?
parliamentary democracy when the European Parliament,
Schulz (PSE). - (DE) Mr President, I wish to contradict the European Commission and the Council have given very
Mr Nassauer. If the Rules of Procedure, as you have generous funding and every help they could to the peace
explained rationally to us, do not allow for the adoption of process. I know it is difficult for colleagues from other
a compromise, I propose that we do indeed refer the report countries to understand that though we had gone so far over
back to committee. I should therefore like to move the the past 18 months, things could now have come to this sad
original motion for the simple reason that, if we had to impasse, but we hope that it is only a temporary hitch and
curtail the debate in any event, Mr Nassauer, that would ill that the peace process will get back on track.
befit the importance of the subject. Besides, 68 amend­
I urge colleagues to vote in favour of having the debate ments have been tabled, of which 40 could not be dealt
here on Wednesday. with by the committee because the dedicated Members of
a certain group - namely the Europe of Nations Group -
did not deem it necessary to involve themselves in the work
on the content of the report. I should therefore consider it President. - I shall now take the vote on the request.
more logical to refer the report back to committee.
(Parliament agreed to the request)
President. - The motion has now been moved. Does
President. - Now that we have withdrawn the Nassauer anyone wish to speak against it?
report from the agenda, there will be no problems with the
Council statement on the situation in the Aegean, which Nassauer (PPE). - (DE) Mr President, under these cir­
can go ahead on Wednesday as planned. cumstances I oppose the referral back to committee and ask
that we abide by the present agenda.
At the beginning of tomorrow's meeting I shall make a
proposal regarding the position of the Council statement on (Applause)
Northern Ireland on Wednesday's agenda. We shall defi­
President. - According to the Rules, I must now call on nitely begin with the Galeote Quecedo and Hoppenstedt
someone to speak in favour. report, and we shall put a proposal to you on the rest of No 4-475/4 Debates of the European Parliament 12.2.96
Wednesday's agenda. For Thursday and Friday there are no proposal yet; we shall first have to examine with the
changes; the order of business for this week is therefore competent services how Wednesday's agenda can be or­
ganized, and we shall present an appropriate proposal to adopted.
you tomorrow morning.
Part-session in Brussels on 28 and 29 February:
Van Putten (PSE). - (NL) Mr President, this is something
Wednesday: about the environment and I do not mind whether it is in
the afternoon or the evening, but I did not hear in your list
The Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and
whether the birds directive is on the agenda for next
Industrial Policy has requested the withdrawal from the
Wednesday. Everyone is counting on that. We have already
agenda of Mr Langen's report on the coordination of public
given the Commissioner a month's grace at her request.
contract awards in the domains of hydroelectricky, trans­
port provision and telecommunications, since the Commis­
President. - Mrs van Putten, your report is on the agenda
sion apparently intends to amend its proposal for a Direc­
for Wednesday, at least on my copy! (')
I now call on Mr von Wogau, chairman of the Committee
4. Waiver of parliamentary immunity on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Industrial Policy.
President. - The next item is the report (A4-0023/96) by von Wogau (PPE), chairman of the Committee on Eco­
Mr Wijsenbeek, on behalf of the Committee on the Rules of nomic and Monetary Affairs and Industrial Policy. - (DE)
Procedure, the Verification of Credentials and Immunities, Mr President, the point I wish to make concerns the Langen
on the request for waiver of parliamentary immunity with report as well as the fact that we in the Economic Affairs
regard to Mr Bernard Tapie. Committee, by adopting the Langen report, rejected by a
large majority the Commission proposal on public tender­
Wijsenbeek (ELDR), rapporteur. - (NL) Mr President, a
ing. Our adoption of the report was followed by talks
request for waiving the parliamentary immunity of one of
between the Economic Affairs Committee and Commis­
our Members is never a cause for rejoicing. It means in the
sioner Monti, in which he stated that the Commission was
first place that one of our fellow-Members has met with
prepared to amend its proposal again. This has subse­
problems. Whatever the circumstances behind the request
quently been confirmed in writing, and we expect that
for waiver of immunity, which in this case are certainly not
Commissioner Papoutsis will also make a statement on the
trilling, we need to show compassion for the Member
matter. This being the case, we feel that it would be prudent
to withdraw the report from the agenda.
Even through no fault of our own, things might happen to
Papoutsis, Member of the Commission. — (EL) Mr Presi­
us at any time to bring us up against the judicial authorities.
dent, after careful consideration of the concerns expressed
Apart from any political considerations, there is no reason
by the Committee on Economic, Monetary and Industrial
to wish that on anyone. But it is not for the snke of the
Policy, I can confirm that the European Commission
Member as an individual that there is immunity, but only
believes there is room for improvement of its proposal by
for the protection of the institution in relation to the
the appropriate amendments.
national authorities. It is the oldest privilege of parliaments
and we must therefore make careful use of it. That is I would also like to confirm that the Commission is ready
clearly also the case here. to discuss the related issues that we could amend. For that
reason, the Commission welcomes the withdrawal of this
The French Assembly has already given a decision, be­
item from the agenda, which will enable the debate to be
cause a double mandate is involved. We shall have to make
continued in the relevant committee.
sure that our own responsibility docs not provide any
grounds for conflict with national parliaments. I would like to end by expressing the hope that the coming
discussions will take place in a constructive spirit.
First of all I wish to state expressly that the report which I
am making today to this House represents the point of view President. - Thank you, Commissioner. We shall now vote
of the great majority of our committee. The explanatory on the request.
statement has also been prepared in close consultation and
(Parliament agreed to the request) discussion with the committee as a whole.
Bloch von Blottnitz (V). - (DE) Mr President, Wednesday Part II of the explanatory statement is standard and
morning, unfortunately, is fully booked once again. But I contains the actual description of the possible circum­
would like to ask you that, when the next agenda is stances and facts which each rapporteur must take into
adopted, care be taken to ensure that debates on reports by account with regard to a request for waiver of parliamen­
the Committee on the Environment are not always held at tary immunity. In that connection too I should like to
five minutes to midnight. I too should welcome an oppor­ express my thanks to my predecessors who, over the years,
tunity to speak in the afternoon. Debates on reports by the have built up a firm body of case-law. Those who traced the
Environment Committee are generally late, late shows. line were advocates, first Georges Donnez and then Jean
That was the case between 1984 and 1989, and now the Defraigne, both former members of my Group, who have
whole business has started again. Perhaps a somewhat provided me even now with valuable advice. Amongst
fairer allocation could be made. present Members, our Vice-President, Mr Gil-Robles, has
also given great help in drawing up our lines of policy.
President. - Mrs Bloch von Blottnitz, I am all for fairness
as you know, but I have heard you speaking here on
environmental matters when it was broad daylight outside!
') Urgent procedure - Speaking time - Topical and urgent debate (subjects
We shall see. For that reason I have not made a specific proposed): see Minutes Debates of the European Parliament No 4-475/5 12.2.96
The present proposal, for non-waiver of immunity, is study the file supplied by the state prosecutor of the
prompted above all by the decision of the French Assem­ Aix-en-Provence Court of Appeal on the charges against
blée which I mentioned and which results from the double Mr Tapie, that document was published in a French weekly.
mandate and the application of Article 26 of the French
I also deplore the fact that details of the committee's vote constitution. The combination of the two factors means that
have been disclosed. After the committee voted on Mr in fact our own report is supererogatory. Our fellow-
Wijsenbeek's report, it was being written and said in Member will in any case be prosecuted and if the judgment
France that the Members of the European Parliament had acquires the force of res judicata it may also be put into
been guilty of conspiring with Mr Tapie, that they had effect.
refused to waive his immunity because they thought there
was a political conspiracy against him, that we felt that the Our colleagues in the French Parliament have not proposed
request by the French judge was not fair or made in good any preventive detention of the person concerned apart
faith, etc. from monitoring his whereabouts. That is an important
consideration for us. It is not acceptable for the execution
These allegations are untrue, and I formally deny them. of a European mandate to be subject to national supervi­
Our committee refused to indulge in these bogus argu­sion.
ments, and I would like to make it absolutely clear that
French justice can take its course entirely unimpeded, from Moreover, we agree with our French colleagues that
examination to sentence, and all the way to imprisonment. preventive detention in order to prevent influencing wit­
nesses six years after the material events occurred must be
Furthermore, some of these allegations by a member of the
excluded as being excessive. Any influence could have
Committee on the Rules of Procedure who was present
been brought to bear long ago if that had been the intention.
throughout the entire discussion and vote were made in the
utmost bad faith. There is nothing in Mr Wijsenbeek's Equally the fact that preventive custody is requested
report or in the conclusions of that report or in the because the person concerned has no permanent residence
or place of abode may be rejected out of hand as entirely committee's discussions to support these allegations.
ridiculous, the more so as the French judicial authorities
We as Members of the European Parliament cannot allow themselves have enquired from Mr Tapie's landlord in
the accusations made against us by Mr Thierry Jean-Pierre
Paris how he paid his rent. That makes us wonder why a
to pass unchallenged. I do not take it upon myself to
request for waiver of immunity has been made at all. What
question Mr Jean-Pierre's reasons for arguing in favour of
is the request for if, as also decided by the French
waiving Mr Tapie's immunity. He, for his part, should give
Assemblée, preventive detention cannot be imposed, whilst
his colleagues on the Committee on the Rules of Procedure
at the same time supervision may be continued and also a
credit for uprightness and honesty in making the decision
sentence having the force of res judicata may be executed?
they did, a decision which was reached by a large majority.
We are paying once more for not having a statute of our
Mr President, anyone who presumes to sit in judgement on
own, because this is now being dealt with under French law
his colleagues must himself expect to be judged by the
so we do not actually have a say. The same situation
yardstick of his own scrupulousness. That may prove a
applies, mutatis mutandis, as reported to our committee by
heavy burden to bear. And, subject to these remarks, I ask
Mr Vecchi, who is responsible for credentials in the event
my colleagues to give their approval to the Wijsenbeek
of bankruptcy of a Member. One must wonder whether that
is a valid reason for inability to be a representative of the
people. Nevertheless French law excludes it and we can (Applause)
only accept the position.
Ford (PSE). - Mr President, Mr Wijsenbeek has explained
On all these grounds our committee has decided by a large his report so admirably that there is almost nothing for me
majority, in accordance with the principle dubio pro reo, to say.
not to agree to a waiver, and that is not for the sake of the
person concerned but rather because our institution's own The allegations against Mr Tapie are serious. They do not
rights and own position are involved. relate, as far as we can see, to his political activities but it
is not our job to judge his guilt or his innocence, even if
Fayot (PSE), chairman of the Committee on the Rules of some of our colleagues, including Mr Jean-Pierre, seem to
Procedure, the Verification of Credentials and Immunities. want to act as judge, jury and executioner.
- (FR) Mr President, in my capacity as chairman of the
Committee on the Rules of Procedure, I would first like to We are of the opinion that Mr Tapie should face his
congratulate the rapporteur on the way in which he has accusers in court. But it is no longer necessary for his
performed his task. His report is highly objective and free immunity to be waived for that to take place, because of
of any partisan or party political attitude. I would also like changes in French law. We had a choice in the Committee
to thank the members of the Committee on the Rules of on the Rules of Procedure, the Verification of Credentials
Procedure for the serious and calm way in which they have and Immunities of either using Rule 6(4) allowing for his
dealt with this matter. immunity to be waived conditionally, i.e. notg him
to be held in preventive detention, or merely to refuse the
I should also emphasize, because this is the first case of its waiver. I preferred the former, but the latter makes very
type to arise in this House, that Parliament has adopted little difference indeed and, in view of the fact that that was
very precise rules for dealing with matters like this. Among adopted in committee, the Socialist Group can go along
those rules, one which I believe is especially important is with it without any difficulty.
the confidentiality rule. In view of this, I must first of all
deplore the fact that, several days before the members of I wish to point out, under Rule 127 that we have an
the Committee on the Rules of Procedure were able to anomaly in our Rules. We can waive the immunity, we can Debates of the European Parliament No 4­475/6 12.2.96
conditionally waive the immunity, or we can refuse to Guinebertière (UPE). ­ (FR) Mr President, ladies and
waive the immunity. However, Rule 6(6) states that if Mr gentlemen, is it necessary for us today to waive the
Wijsenbeek's report is rejected the contrary will be deemed parliamentary immunity of one of our number? Legal
opinion has shown that doing so would change very little, to be adopted. I am not sure what the contrary is when you
since France has not waived Bernard Tapie's immunity. have a choice of three options. Mr President, maybe you
can rule on that and refer the matter to the Rules Commit­
Let me give you my reaction as a citizen ­ one of the tee so that we can consider appropriate action for future
citizens whose representatives we are. They have a pretty occasions of this kind.
poor opinion of justice, and are asking a lot of questions
about Europe. The man in the street is convinced that if you Donnelly, Brendan (PPE). ­ Mr President, I should like to
scratch a politician you will sometimes find a more or less begin by making one point clear above all others. If I
dishonest person, and some such people are more clearly
believed that any decision taken by us today could hinder
identifiable than others. He is also convinced that we are,
or hamper the court proceedings to which Mr Tapie is now
as they say, 'untouchable'.
subject in France or if I believed that any decision taken by
us today could prevent him from paying any fine or serving Are we to prevent justice from following its normal course
any prison sentence to which he might be condemned in the in dealing with a case which predates the entry of the
French courts, I would be the first to insist on the waiver of person concerned into the European Parliament? Is parlia­
his immunity and I would not have supported the Wijsen­ mentary immunity intended to protect an elected repre­
beek report in committee. The system of parliamentary sentative in connection with matters which have nothing
immunities is one that I view personally with little enthu­ whatever to do with political activity but are matters for the
siasm. In democracies subject to the rule of law there can common law? The Committee on the Rules of Procedure
be little scope for the apparent preferential treatment of puts forward arguments connected with legal procedure
parliamentarians over their fellow citizens. which are certainly very reasonable, but in states governed
by the rule of law, such as ours, parliamentary immunity
I am aware that the recommendation of the Wijsenbeek has no reason to exist outside political activity.
report will be surprising to some colleagues, but the great
In voting yes to the waiving of parliamentary immunity majority of the committee concluded that, on balance, the
under these conditions I am saying yes to the free exercise legal and procedural arguments in this case pointed again
of justice. Are we going to confirm the misgivings of those any action by Parliament to raise Mr Tapie's immunity. I
who believe that there are two categories of citizen ­ those stress 'in this case' since Mr Tapie is involved in other legal
who are protected and those who are not? proceedings where a request for the waiver of his immunity
would not necessarily raise the same considerations as
Nordmann (ELDR). ­ (FR) Mr President, I have a deep
those we are looking at today.
admiration for Fionas Wijsenbeek's dialectical talents, but
I am unable to agree with his conclusions. Every parlia­Like Mr Fayot, I resent ­ both personally and politically ­
mentary precedent, in fact, is in favour of waiving Mr certain public comments made by a member of the Com­
Tapie's parliamentary immunity. And everything is in mittee on the Rules of Procedure, the Verification of
favour of referring back to committee a report which ν Credentials and Immunities. Words such as 'connivance'
confronts us with a binary choice, whereas Rule 6(4) of our and 'scandalous' have no place in parliamentary debate. We
Rules of Procedure offers us the option of a ternary choice must go forward on the basis that we accept and recognize
and, in particular, the option of aligning ourselves with the the good faith of others, even when we disagree with them.
position adopted by the French National Assembly, which
has rejected the possibility of holding Mr Tapie on remand, The fundamental reason why the Committee on the Rules
while waiving his parliamentary immunity. of Procedure recommended rejection of the request for
waiver of Mr Tapie's immunity is simple. It is that the I believe that it would be a creditable course of action for
combination of new French national rules and the decision our Parliament to adopt this very logical position. The truth
of the National Assembly in December last year has is that many of our colleagues, one month after the death of
rendered the original request null and void. Irrespective of François Mitterrand, are reluctant to waive the parliamen­
any decision taken here today, the proceedings against Mr tary immunity of one of his former ministers. This situation
Tapie will continue and he will bear the financial or is temporary. Unfortunately for all concerned, it settles
liberty­depriving consequences of an adverse judgment nothing.
like any other citizen. He will not be put in prison before
final sentence is given because the National Assembly has Aelvoet (V). ­ (NL) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen,
decided that he shall be free to continue in the exercise of as many Members have already said, the question actu­
his national mandate. ally before us today is not whether, in the matter on
which we are being consulted, Mr Tapie is guilty. That is
In effect, there is no longer any substantial request on the something which the court and the court alone must
table for the waiver of Mr Tapie's immunity. To waive Mr decide. The question before us is whether the waiver of
Tapie's hollow immunity in this case would itself be a immunity, in the form it has now taken in the French
hollow gesture. Under the chairmanship of Mr Fayot, the constitution, has still any point as regards the further
Committee on the Rules of Procedure recognizes a duty of treatment of this case. In that regard and account being
objectivity and serenity. It is not a partisan committee. I taken also of the decision of the French Assemblée,
believe the Wijsenbeek report discharges that duty to the which will not allow recourse to preventive detention, the
rest of the plenary and I hope when we come to vote on the view taken by many members of my group is that waiver
matter in less than one hour's time the plenary will endorse of the immunity will now have no consequences for the
the serious work done in good faith by the Committee on further course of the case. He may state his case, be
the Rules of Procedure and accept the Wijsenbeek report. examined, convicted and then, after a definitive sentence Debates of the European Parliament No 4-475/7 12.2.96
exact nature of the proposed coercive measures had not of the court, imprisoned. As far as that is concerned all
the conditions are fulfilled for him to be treated as a been specified.
normal citizen, no more and no less.
As regards other liberty-depriving measures (what the
On the other hand I should like to point out that for many French Criminal Code calls 'judicial supervision', for
members of our group questions arise also as to the way in example, which is a prohibition on leaving French territory
which parliamentary immunity is managed in a number of or an obligation not to visit any place other than those
countries. We should be very glad to have a fundamental determined by the examining magistrate), there is no doubt
debate about it because the position must actually be that that the effects of such measures would be very serious for
no Member of Parliament can be placed above the law. For the European Parliament.
that basic reason we are clearly having a free vote on this
subject and call Parliament's attention expressly to our To summarize, if we stick to the rules of law and objec­
tivity... wish to have a fundamental debate about immunity irre­
spective of any specific case.
(The President cut the speaker off)
Lalumière (ARE). - (FR) Mr President, a request for the
President. - I now call on Mr Jean-Pierre, who will speak waiver of immunity is always a serious matter and must be
on behalf of the Europe of Nations Group. Mr Jean-Pierre, considered rigorously and calmly.
to avoid any misunderstandings, let me say now that you
That is the spirit in which the Committee on the Rules of have one and a half minutes as spokesman of your group.
I shall then give you the opportunity you requested to make Procedure proceeded, and I pay tribute to the reporter, Mr
a personal statement at the end of our debate as provided Wijsenbeek, who based his arguments on law alone,
for in our Rules of Procedure. without regard to any emotions that might be aroused by
the person in question, Bernard Tapie, his political prefer­
Jean-Pierre (EDN). - (FR) Mr President, ladies and ences or his nationality. By a very large majority - 13 votes
gentlemen, what does the concept of justice represent to against 2, with 3 abstentions - the Committee on the Rules
each one of us? First, it is one of the foundations of our of Procedure invites us to reject the request made by the
societies, which are based on the rule of law. Without French authorities for a waiver of immunity. Its reasons
justice there can be no social cohesion, no national com­seem to us totally convincing. Let me briefly summarize
munity, no institutional equilibrium. Secondly, it represents the principal points.
a very simple idea that all of us share from childhood
This request for a waiver of immunity relates to the case onwards: under our rules and laws, all men are equal. All of
known as the Olympique de Marseille accounts case. It has us, as Members of this Parliament, are citizens like any
a highly specific and very serious purpose: that purpose is other citizens, and the law must be applied to us as it is
to authorize the judge to imprison Bernard Tapie on remand applied - harshly, sometimes - to the citizens of our
before judgement, or to impose upon him measures to countries.
deprive him of or restrict his liberty. That is what it is
about, and that is all it is about. So why should one of us escape this general rule? We know
the gravity of the charges against Bernard Tapie. We know
The point here is that the French Constitution was amended that the French judge who made the request has gathered
in 1994, and since that date it has not been necessary to such firm evidence against him that he wishes to place him
waive the immunity of a Member of Parliament when the in preventive detention. Our duty, as elected representa­
intention is to prosecute him, examine his case and, if tives of the European nations, is not to provide systematic
appropriate, sentence him to imprisonment for facts extra­ protection for this or that member of our institution. Nor is
neous to the exercise of his mandate. In reality, a waiver of it our duty to camouflage offences with arguments about an
immunity is required only if the intention is to arrest him or imaginary political plot.
impose upon him any measure such as to prevent or restrict
his liberty before final sentence is passed. In other words, It is for these reasons that I ask you to vote to waive
the present French law certainly does not offer automatic Bernard Tapie's immunity. And I take due note, Mr
protection to Members of Parliament. President, of my option to address the House in due course
in order to answer the unacceptable accusations by the
In the present case, are there any legal considerations chairman of the Committee on the Rules of Procedure, the
which could justify imprisonment or other liberty-depriv­ Verification of Credentials and Immunities.
ing or liberty-restricting measures? No document in the file
is convincing in this respect. There is nothing to prove that (Applause from the EDN Group)
Bernard Tapie's freedom of movement would at present
represent a serious threat to public order. There is nothing Gollnisch (NI). - (FR) Mr President, the growing number
of prosecutions against Mr Tapie leads Members to believe to prove that that liberty would lead him to try to influence
that he is a victim of an unjust persecution. On the other the course of the examination by interfering with other
hand, the growing number of prosecutions against Mr Le persons undern or with witnesses, in France or
elsewhere. Hence, there seems to be no need for any Pen led them to believe that their attitude towards him was
measures to restrict his freedom of movement. Further­ justified.
more, a distinction has to be drawn between these various
The report is quite hypocritical in refraining from any types of measure.
detailed examination of the charges made against the party
As far as preventive detention is concerned, the question in question. Has Mr Tapie ruined the businesses he bought
has as it were already been answered, since the French for a symbolic price of one franc, yes or no? Yes! Has Mr
National Assembly has rejected it, believing not only that Tapie betrayed his solemn undertakings to preserve jobs in
such action would be disproportionate but also that the those businesses, businesses which he was in fact buying Debates of the European Parliament 12.2.96 No 4-475/8
his case. What was its decision? It maintained Mr Tapie's solely in order to resell them after dismissing the staff, yes
immunity, and therefore denied the request for detention on or no? Yes!
remand made by the public prosecutor. On the other hand,
In the matter before us today, did Mr Tapie bear false it waived immunity as regards judicial supervision meas­
witness through one of his henchmen, the former socialist ures which were not requested by the public prosecutor. So
minister and still mayor of Béthune, Mr Mellick, yes or no? we have here an absurd situation: we cannot waive immu­
Yes! Was the perjurer and false witness Mellick caught nity in a matter which is of interest to French justice, and
red-handed trying to put pressure on a witness, his secre­ we can only give satisfaction to French justice in a matter
tary, with threats made to her personally and to her husband which is of no interest to it.
if she refused to bear false witness, yes or no? Yes! It is this
Under these conditions, we have the choice between unhappy woman, Mr Wijsenbeek, who should be the object
refusing to reply, holding that no decision was called for -of your sympathy, or the employees who have lost their
which is a possibility - and refusing to waive parliamen­jobs, or the humblest of French tax-payers who have been
tary immunity. This is what our rapporteur, Mr Wijsenbeek, called upon to fill in the pit dug in the Crédit Lyonnais by
suggests, and we shall go along with his suggestions. the Parrettis, Maxwells and Tapies.
Todini (UPE). - (IT) Mr President, first of all I would like But, ladies and gentlemen, having said that, let us not be
to congratulate Mr Wijsenbeek on his exhaustive report. too hard on Mr Tapie. He is first and foremost the product
We, the European Parliament, cannot and must not pass of a system, less guilty than the media which for many
judgment on whether Mr Tapie is or is not guilty: we must
years praised him to the skies, less guilty than Mr Haberer,
decide whether or not parliamentary immunity should be
the Chairman of the Crédit Lyonnais, who provided him
revoked and, I have to say, we are being called upon to act
with financing that was never repaid, less guilty than the
on what I perceive to be extremely weak legal grounds.
politicians like you who vested him with moral authority
Why is that so? Because our legal reasoning leads us to
solely because he was attacking Mr Le Pen, less guilty than
believe that there are insufficient grounds to grant the François Mitterrand who made him a minister, less guilty
revocation requested by the French prosecutor which is than Jacques Toubon, the Minister of Justice, who is
based on two arguments: the risk that Mr Tapie might leave showing him consideration today, less guilty than you,
the country and the likelihood that existing evidence may ladies and gentlemen, who waived the immunity of one of
be tampered with. Why should there be the risk that Mr your number when he advanced arguments you didn't like
Tapie might leave the country - the first of the two but maintain immunity in a matter which is, quite clearly,
arguments - has not been explained. With regard to the a common-law one.
second argument - the possibility that evidence may be
tampered with - I would like to point out that the cases
At least everyone can see how the land lies - the masks are
referred to date back to the years 1990-1993. Now, if there
off, and that is as it should be.
really had been any risk of Mr Tapie leaving the country,
this would already have happened. In addition, the Wijsen­Cot (PSE). - (FR) Mr President, as far as immunity is
beek report has been approved by the Committee on the concerned, European legislation refers us to the constitu­
Rules of Procedure by a majority vote. This clearly tion - the French constitution in this case. That­
demonstrates the intentions of Parliament. I shall therefore tion, which was amended in August, as we know and as we
vote - and I invite my honourable colleagues to do the have in any case been specifically reminded, eliminates any
same - in favour of the Wijsenbeek Report. immunity during a prosecution and at the stage of final
sentence, even if that sentence is one which deprives the
President. - The debate is closed. accused of his liberty.
The vote will take place at voting time, which will follow I note, incidently, that these provisions of the French
shortly. constitution mean that there is no point in referring to
Rule 6(4) of our Rules of Procedure, which allows us to
Jean-Pierre (EDN). - (FR) Mr President, I shall not detain
separate our decision on prosecution from our decision on
you long.
libertydepriving measures. Well, Mr Nordmann, that was
not what the French National Assembly decided. We are Mr Fayot, I repeat everything I said. You say that there is
not required to make a decision here regarding immunity no connivance, but I tell you that there is connivance!
in the event of prosecution, since no such immunity exists
When, two days before the meeting of the Committee on in French law.
the Rules of Procedure, the rapporteur's conclusions can be
The question we have to answer is confined to preventive read in 'Le Monde', while our proceedings are being held
detention and confined to the measures of judicial super­ in camera and are supposed to be confidential, that is
vision which the examining magistrate might decide upon. scandalous! And when I ask the Committee to be so kind as
What are the French authorities asking? The public pros­ to conduct an inquiry and find out who talked to the
ecutor of Aix considers that a remand order would be reporter, I receive no reply from you.
justified. On the other hand - and this is vital to our
When, eight months ago, I asked on behalf of my group decision - that same public prosecutor of Aix, in his
that the Committee on the Rules of Procedure should call request, considers that judicial supervision measures pur­
upon the President of the European Parliament to ask the suant to Articles 138 onwards of the French Code of
French Minister of Justice officially exactly what is the
Criminal Procedure would be, and I quote, 'inadequate and
legal situation with Bernard Tapie, so that following the ineffective', to use the same form of words as the request
personal bankruptcy judgement given against him he for the waiver of Mr Tapie's immunity.
could be deprived of his mandates, and when the Com­
mittee on the Rules of Procedure unanimously requests Now, because Mr Tapie holds a double mandate, the French
that this should be done, what is the situation eight National Assembly was called upon to give judgement in