Official Journal of the European Communities Debates of the European Parliament 1998/99 Session. Report of proceedings from 11 May to 15 May 1998

Official Journal of the European Communities Debates of the European Parliament 1998/99 Session. Report of proceedings from 11 May to 15 May 1998

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ISSN 0378-5041 Official Journal Annex of the European Communities No 4-519 Debates of the European Parliament English edition 1998/99 Session Report of proceedings from 11 May to 15 May 1998 Europe House, Strasbourg Sitting of Monday, 11 May 1998 General contents 1. Resumption of the session, p. 1 - 2. Request for the waiver of Mr Ribeiro Campos' immunity, p. 3 - 3. Request for the waiver of Mr Rosado Fernandes' immunity, p. 4 -4. Legal protection of biotechnological inventions, p. 5 - 5. Second banking directive, p. 19 Sitting of Tuesday, 12 May 1998 23 I. Approval of the Minutes, p.5 -. Decision on urgency, p. 26 - 3. Conciliation pro­cedure concerning investment services, p. 26 - 4. Control of synthetic drugs, p. 28 -5. Preliminary draft general budget for 1999 (presentation), p. 35 - 6. Tobacco adver­tising, p. 37 - 7. Votes, p. 51 - 8. Water quality, p. 64 - 9. Limit values for pollutants in ambient air - Strategy to combat acidification -, p. 71 - 10. Eco-label, p. 80 -II. Question Time (Commission), p. 83-12. 'Towards a Europe of Knowledge', p. 95 - 13. Protection of minors in audiovisual and information services, p. 103-14. Interim agreement on trade with Mexico, p. 108 - 15. Community customs code, p. 113 Sitting of Wednesday, 13 May 1998 117 1. Approval of the Minutes, p. 119-2. Appointments to the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, p. 120 - 3. Euro-Mediterranean cooperation (joint debate), p. 135-4. Votes, p. 145-5.

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ISSN 0378-5041
Official Journal Annex
of the
European Communities
No 4-519
Debates of the European Parliament English edition
1998/99 Session
Report of proceedings
from 11 May to 15 May 1998
Europe House, Strasbourg
Sitting of Monday, 11 May 1998 General contents
1. Resumption of the session, p. 1 - 2. Request for the waiver of Mr Ribeiro Campos'
immunity, p. 3 - 3. Request for the waiver of Mr Rosado Fernandes' immunity, p. 4 -
4. Legal protection of biotechnological inventions, p. 5 - 5. Second banking directive,
p. 19
Sitting of Tuesday, 12 May 1998 23
I. Approval of the Minutes, p.5 -. Decision on urgency, p. 26 - 3. Conciliation pro­
cedure concerning investment services, p. 26 - 4. Control of synthetic drugs, p. 28 -
5. Preliminary draft general budget for 1999 (presentation), p. 35 - 6. Tobacco adver­
tising, p. 37 - 7. Votes, p. 51 - 8. Water quality, p. 64 - 9. Limit values for pollutants
in ambient air - Strategy to combat acidification -, p. 71 - 10. Eco-label, p. 80 -
II. Question Time (Commission), p. 83-12. 'Towards a Europe of Knowledge', p. 95
- 13. Protection of minors in audiovisual and information services, p. 103-14. Interim
agreement on trade with Mexico, p. 108 - 15. Community customs code, p. 113
Sitting of Wednesday, 13 May 1998 117
1. Approval of the Minutes, p. 119-2. Appointments to the Executive Board of the
European Central Bank, p. 120 - 3. Euro-Mediterranean cooperation (joint debate),
p. 135-4. Votes, p. 145-5. Common defence policy, p. 170-6. Nuclear tests in India,
p. 185 - 7. Agenda, p. 189 - 8. Kosovo, p. 190 - 9. Question Time (Council), p. 193 -
10. Euro-Mediterranean cooperation (continuation), p. 203 - 11. Kosovo (continua­
tion), p. 205 - 12. Competitiveness of European industry, p. 206 - 13. Electronic com­
merce, p. 212 - 14. Provision ofinformation in the field of technical standards and reg­
ulations, p. 218 - 15. Operator number portability and carrier pre-selection, p. 219 -
16. Labelling of certain foodstuffs produced from genetically modified organisms,
p. 221 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, (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
spoken.
Contents (continued) Sitting of Thursday, 14 May 1998 275
1. Approval of the Minutes, p.6 - 2. Improvements in the functioning of the
Institutions, p.6 - 3. Information and communication policy, p. 286 - 4. Welcome,
p. 295 - 5. Votes, p. 295 - 6. Topical and urgent debate, p. 304 - 7. Votes (continua­
tion), p. 328 - 8. Competition in the air traffic sector, p. 330 - 9. Code of conduct for
computerized reservation systems (CRSs), p. 335 - 10. Marketing of seeds -
Implementation of Regulation (EC) No 1467/94, p. 337
Sitting of Friday, 15 May 1998 343
1. Approval of the Minutes, p.3 - 2. Votes, p. 344 - 3. Payment card crime, p. 346
- 4. Use of antibiotics in animal food. p. 349 - 5. Audit of certain aspects of German
reunification measures (Court of Auditors report), p. 358 - 6. Combined heat and
power, p. 361 - 7. Adjournment of the session, p. 364
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 11-15.5.1998 appear in the Official Journal
of the European Communities C167 of 1.6.1998 Debates of the European Parliament No 4-519/1 11.5.98
SITTING OF MONDAY, 11 MAY 1998
Contents
/. Resumption of the session
Monti (Commission), Ahern, Ripa di Meana, Bianco, Marinucci, Diez de Rivera
/caza, Christodoulou, Pomés Ruiz, Medina Ortega, Gutiérrez Díaz, Morris, Schifane,
Vallvé · , 1
2. Request for the waiver of Mr Campos' immunity
Palacio Vállelersundi, Wibe 3
3. Request for the waiver of Mr Rosado Fernandes ' immunity
Wijsenbeek, Wibe 4
4. Legal protection of biotechnological inventions
Rothley, Barzanti, Mosiek-Urbahn, Pompidou, Monfds, Ephremidis, Tamino, Ewing,
Sandbæk, Gebhardt, C. Casini, Hyland, De Clercq, Sjöstedt, Ahern, Barthet-Mayer,
Blokland, Raschhofer, Oddy, Liese, Eisma, Querbes, Graefe zu Baringdorf, Berger,
Palacio Vallelersundi, Plooij-Van Gorsel, Seppänen, Ullmann, White, K. Jensen,
Malone, van Putten, Cot, Monti (Commission), Graefe zu Baringdorf, van Putten,
Monti .. 5
5. Second banking directive
Wijsenbeek, Peijs, Rothley, Mosiek-Urbahn, Monti (Commission) 19
five people have been injured, and more than a thousand IN THE CHAIR: MR GIL-ROBLES GIL-DELGADO
have lost their homes and possessions.
President
I think that at times like this it is important for the whole
(The sitting was opened at 5.00p.m.) European Union to show solidarity with the victims and
their families. If you agree, I will convey our institution's
condolences and sympathy to the Italian authorities.
1. Resumption of the session
(Applause)
President. - I declare resumed the session of the Euro­
Monti, Member of the Commission. - (IT) Mr President,
pean Parliament adjourned on 2 May 1998.
the Commission shares these sentiments regarding such a
serious and immense tragedy and, for its part, is consider­
ing the possibility of some form of concrete intervention
to show this solidarity.
Ahern (V). - Mr President, I would like to inform this President. - Ladies and gentlemen, you are all aware that
House that today at 13.00 hours GMT India made an un­Italy is currently undergoing a time of great suffering and
derground thermonuclear test similar to the one that she sorrow because of the tragic mudslides and floods which-
conducted in 1974. I would ask this House to condemn have affected various localities in the region of Campa­
these nuclear tests outright and condemn India for not be­nia, particularly Sarno, Bracigliano, Quindici and Siano.
So far, there are known to have been 135 victims, and the ing part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. I would
number of people missing may be even higher. Ninety- also ask this House to criticize the acknowledged five nu-Debates of the European Parliament No 4-519/2 11.5.98
Ahern
clear powers for setting a bad example and in particular sponsibly carved out the most advantageous national pol­
for the nuclear test in Mururoa some time ago. We in the icy and laid the foundations for the growth of prosperity
European Union have set India a bad example and I would in the region. But Konstantinos Karamanlis was also a
also like this House to condemn the transfer of civil nu­ great European, not only because he was a unique and
clear technology to third countries. wonderful leader who, literally by himself, placed Greece
among the ranks of the European Communities, but also
(Applause)
because he always had a clear and definite idea of the Eu­
ropean ideal. He believed that only a united Europe could Ripa di Meana (V). - (IT) Mr President, a very quick
achieve great things and safeguard democracy, prosperity point of order to express the wish that the Commission
and peace for its peoples. may rapidly set aside an adequate sum to deal with the se­
rious disaster which hit Campania and the Sarno valley.
Tomorrow morning at 8.00 a.m. in the Palais, the Greek
Members of the European Parliament will hold a short Bianco (PPE). - (IT) Mr President, I had already asked to
memorial service to honour Konstantinos Karamanlis and speak, but you were sensitive enough to open this sitting
all those colleagues who would like to take part will be by immediately remembering the victims in the Sarno
welcome. valley. I would like to thank you and Professor Monti for
this solidarity. Parliament must urge the European Coun­
Pomes Ruiz (PPE). - (ES) Mr President, this Parliament,
cil and the Commission to intervene effectively, so that
which has so often demonstrated its desire to defend hu­
these tortured people - whom I have visited and seen for
man rights, must not ignore the fact that last week the ter­
myself the conditions in which they are living-can know
rorist organization ETA once again attacked a politician,
that Europe is not far away.
a defender of liberty, in Spain. He was Tomás Caballero,
a member of the Navarre People's Union and that politi­Marinucci (PSE). - (IT) Mr President, I would like to
cal party's spokesman on Pamplona city council. ETA thank you for the sensitivity you have shown, by dedicat­
also murdered a sub-lieutenant in the civil guard, Alfonso ing the opening of this sitting to the tragedy which took
Parada. place in Campania. I hope very much that the warmth of
feeling and sensitivity shown by my colleagues who ap­
Mr President, today ETA still represents the most flagrant
plauded your initiative and the sensitivity shown by Com­
violation of human rights within the territory of the Euro­
missioner Monti, who made some promises, will truly al­
pean Union.
low Italy to feel that Europe is close at hand at these tragic
times. This Parliament cannot ignore these crimes, and we
should condemn these attacks. I beg you, Mr President, to
Diez de Rivera Icaza (PSE). - (ES) Mr President, I
convey this condemnation to the Spanish authorities and
would like to know if there is anything you can do to find
the victims.
out why Air France has cancelled its regular and special
flights to Strasbourg. (Applause)
Yesterday it took me 14 hours to get here. When I finally Medina Ortega (PSE). - (ES) Mr President, on behalf of
arrived in Strasbourg - which is an enchanting city and the Spanish Socialists, I want to express my condolences
the headquarters of this Parliament - I was so tired I felt to Mr Pomes Ruiz for the murder of a fellow politician,
like I had travelled to.India. I would therefore be very and join in with the condemnation of this vile attack and
grateful, Mr President, if you could do something to find the murder of the civil guard, Mr Parada.
out why the Air France flights have been cancelled.
Gutiérrez Díaz (GUE/NGL). - (ES) Mr President, ladies
Secondly, since you opened this sitting with sympathy for and gentlemen, our painful denunciation of the assassina­
the catastrophe in Italy, I would be grateful if you could tions of two more European citizens is not just a ritual. In
also mention another enormous catastrophe - not in terms the face of the murderer's fascist irrationality, we are af­
of human life, but in terms of people's livelihoods, and firming once again the principles which form the basis for
the construction of the European Union: democratic coex­the unique European habitat of the Doñana national park.
istence, respect for minorities, and the recognition of the I would be grateful if you could express our solidarity to
wishes of the majority. the relevant authorities. Thank you very much.
President. - Thank you very much, Mrs Diez de Rivera By saying 'no' to attempts to establish violence as a way
Icaza. I shall do so. of imposing the will of visionaries, we are restating our
decision to defend democracy, using democratic methods
Christodoulou (PPE). - (EL) Mr President, during the
and means. This is not to be seen as weakness but rather
sitting of 29 April, the European Parliament honoured the
as an expression of our profound conviction that although
memory of a great Greek statesman and a great European.
irrational, fascist violence can kill democrats, it can never
Konstantinos Karamanlis was a national leader who had
assassinate democracy.
the approval of all parties, transcended party politics and
had the good fortune of being alive to see the recognition The pain we feel for the victims and our sympathy with
of his work by political friends and foe alike. He acquitted the people closest to them commit us to the cause they
himself with prudence, moderation and insight. He turned stood for and for which they were murdered. So, in saying
the visions of a nation into reality and consistently and re­ 'no' to any form of fascism - though it may be disguised Debates of the European Parliament No 4­519/3 11.5.98
Gutiérrez Díaz
as nationalism ­ it is worth remembering that while cow­ Palacio Vallelersundi (PPE), rapporteur. ­ (ES) Mr
ards might murder European democrats, they cannot President, it is my honour to present, on behalf of the
weaken pur conviction nor breach our solidarity. Committee on the Rules of Procedure, the Verification of
Credentials and Immunities, this report on the Portuguese
Morris (PSE). ­ Mr President, while endorsing what my authorities' request for the waiver of the parliamentary
colleague Mrs Ahern has said about the Indian nuclear immunity of our colleague in this House, Mr Ribeiro
tests, I wish to draw to the attention of the House that this Campos.
week in the UK it is Christian Aid week. I would hope
that we could send a very clear message from this Parlia­ The conclusion reached by the Committee on the Rules of
ment to the G8 meeting in Birmingham that we are all in Procedure, by seven votes in favour to two against, is that
favour of them urgently addressing the issue of world there are NO grounds for a decision from this Parliament
debt. This is killing so many millions of people, espe­ in relation to the Portuguese authorities' request, because
cially young children, and I do not think that we would the dossier they sent does not provide sufficient reason. I
wish to neglect sending a very clear message that they will return to this later.
must now at last resolve the issue of world debt and the
Secondly and in parallel, the Committee on the Rules of way it is affecting young children in particular in the
Procedure has declared itself in favour of Parliament's re­Third World.
port making it clear that there would be NO obstacle
Schifone (NI). ­(ΙΤ)Μτ President, I am attending the Eu­ placed in the way of Mr Ribeiro Campos appearing in
ropean Parliament for the first time, and I am also a re­ court ­ although this would have to be in the capacity of
gional councillor for Campania, therefore I must mention a witness, without the slightest compromise to his rights
your consideration for the people of our region who were ­ especially those rights he enjoys as a Member of this
affected in recent days by the mud slide, a tragedy which Parliament ­ and, of course, without any coercion.
has destroyed whole communities, and caused victims,
So the measure adopted by the Committee on the Rules of while there are still many people missing in the rubble.
Procedure, the Verification of Credentials and Immuni­
I should also like to emphasize that our region is living ties is in two parts: NO reason for a decision and NO ob­
through, and now paying the price of, an insane policy jection on Parliament's part to Mr Ribeiro Campos ap­
over recent decades and that an intervention plan is there­ pearing and being heard in these proceedings.
fore necessary, which the region is preparing through a
plan for the monitoring, identification and prevention of Mr President, this is actually an old problem, which we
natural disasters. have been dealing with in this Parliament since at least
1976, ever since the election of MEPs by direct universal
All of this also requires the effort and solidarity of the Eu­ suffrage made people realize that there was a need for a
ropean Union however, and I therefore thank you and all single MEP's statute. This is a very clear demonstration
my colleagues who have asked the European Commission of the problems caused by not having a single MEP's stat­
to intervene as quickly as possible to give a tangible sign ute. Because in order to examine this question, we have to
of European solidarity towards our region. refer to Article 10 of the 1965 Protocol on the Privileges
and Immunities of the European Communities, the 1976
Vallvé (ELDR). ­ (ES) Mr President, going back to what
Act concerning the Election of Representatives of the Eu­
my colleagues Mr Pomes Ruiz, Mr Medina Ortega and
ropean Parliament, and the Constitution or legislation of
Mr Gutiérrez Díaz said, I also want to express my con­
each Member State. The situations in the Member States demnation of the outrages in the Basque Country and Na­
are very diverse: no parliamentary immunity in the UK,
varre last week, and our condolences to the victims and
and others with a totally different type of parliamentary
their families.
immunity. That creates unnecessary differences. This
Parliament increasingly represents the citizens of Europe. President. ­ Thank you very much, Mr Vallvé. (')
So there should be mechanisms to protect its Members ­
because parliamentary immunity is nothing more than
protection for the work they do in this Parliament. And 2. Request for the waiver
that protection should be provided with full respect for the of Mr Ribeiro Campos' immunity
principle of equality between Members.
President. ­ The next item is the report (A4­0155/98) by
In that sense, Mr President, I should like to go back to the Mrs Palacio Vallelersundi, on behalf of the Committee on
second part of the decision adopted by a wide majority in the Rules of Procedure, the Verification of Credentials
the Committee on the Rules of Procedure, the Verifica­and Immunities, on the request for waiver of the parlia­
tion of Credentials and Immunities. Notwithstanding the mentary immunity of Mr Antonio Carlos Ribeiro Cam­
disparity caused by referring to the legislations of the var­pos.
ious Member States, as Community legislation obliges us
to do, that committee has been trying for a long time to es­
') Approval of Minutes ­ Documents received ­ Petitions ­ Member­ tablish a jurisprudence ­ a line of conduct to constitute a
ship of Parliament ­ Membership of committees, ACPÆU Joint common practice. And the basis of that line of conduct
Assembly and delegations ­ Action taken on Parliament's opinions
should be an absence of artificial differences between an and resolutions ­ Order of business ­ Speaking time ­ Topical and
MEP and a normal citizen. An MEP is a normal citizen in urgent debate (subjects proposed): see Minutes. No 4-519/4 Debates of the European Parliament 11.5.98
Palacio Vallelersundi
the eyes of the law, but he or she is also a representative The vote will take place tomorrow at 12.00 noon.
of the people and, as such, should be protected against le­
gal proceedings which might compromise, not them­
3. Request for the waiver of Mr Rosado Fernandes' selves, but what they represent - compromising the citi­
immunity zens of Europe, in fact.
That, Mr President, is the reason for the clarification in President. - The next item is the report (A4-0154/98) by
the second part of the decision adopted by the Committee Mr Wijsenbeek, on behalf of the Committee on the Rules
on the Rules of Procedure, the Verification of Credentials
of Procedure, the Verification of Credentials and Immu­
and Immunities. What that committee wants to convey to
nities, on the request for waiver of the parliamentary im­
the Portuguese authorities is that it places no obstacle, but
munity of Mr Raúl Miguel Rosado Fernandes.
upholds the guarantees to which any Member of this Par­
liament is entitled, by the very fact of being so. Therefore, Wijsenbeek (ELDR), rapporteur. - (NL) Mr President,
the committee clearly states that at the moment.there are although the facts, it is true, are different from those in
no grounds for a waiver of immunity, and requests that we Mrs Palacio's earlier report on Mr Campos, this request is
should be sent more information once the proceedings in fact concerned with the same thing.
have reached a more advanced stage. Meanwhile, there is
The Portuguese Public Prosecution Service wishes to start
no objection to Mr Ribeiro Campos being heard under
enquiries into the charges which, although not otherwise these conditions.
relevant here, are concerned in both cases with charges of
misuse of European Union agriculture funds. We, in Par­Wibe (PSE). - (SV) Mr President, let me begin by thank­
liament, have gradually built up a law of precedent and in ing Palacio Vallelersundi for an absolutely excellent re­
this case, indeed in both cases, we could say that it is a port, the conclusions of which I entirely agree with. Let
matter of fumus persecutionis. Nevertheless, we do not me say also that the matter of principle which we dis­
want to do that, precisely because in recent years we have cussed in the Committee on the Rules of Procedure, the
taken the line that we ought not to give the press and pub­Verification of Credentials and Immunities concerns
lic any reason at all to think that we would wish to protect where in the judicial process parliamentary immunity
our Members, and that they can do or say virtually any­shall start to apply. It thus turns on a judicial process
thing without sanctions by availing themselves of parlia­which can be said to extend from an inquiry via prelimi­
mentary immunity. nary investigation to prosecution, judgement and sentenc­
ing. The question is therefore where in this process parlia­
Parliamentary immunity is intended, and must be used
mentary immunity shall start to apply.
and continue to be used, so that the institution as such can
safeguard itself from the obstruction of our duties as a co-As we know, there are instances of parliamentary immu­
legislator in the meantime. This means that Members as nity which cover solely the actual penalty; one can be
individuals cannot claim protection against criminal in­prosecuted and judged, therefore, but not punished. How­
ever, immunity of this kind does not apply to Members of vestigation. This brings us right to the heart of the prob­
the European Parliament. We end instead before the point lem that lies before us today in Mrs Palacio's and my re­
ports. of prosecution. The principal question is then whether a
preliminary investigation, as is involved in this case, shall
Article 10 of the Protocol says that Members enjoy 'in the
also be covered by our immunity or not. We have of
territory of their own State, the immunities accorded to
course decided that it is not covered by our immunity. The
members of their parliament'. Members of Parliament in
Portuguese authorities may accordingly initiate prelimi­
Portugal cannot be cross-examined, not even as witnesses
nary investigations in this case, but if they reach the point
- Mr President, I must just explain this - without their im­
of prosecution, in the case of Mr Campos, they must come
munity being formally waived, whereas we assume that
back with a request for the lifting of immunity.
no waiver of immunity is needed for our Members to be
cross-examined. There are two reasons why we do not consider that a pre­
liminary investigation should be included in the require­
Once again we are having to pay for the lack of a detailed
ments for immunity: In the first place, it can be said that
statute of our own and equal immunity for all our Mem­
a preliminary investigation is needed to clarify the exact
bers regardless of their nationality. It is high time that the
nature of any offences which the person is said to have
Bureau came up with the necessary proposals for this,
perpetrated; a preliminary investigation can thus clarify
which have been held up as false hopes for. so long, oth­
the situation for us here in the Parliament.
erwise, yet again, nothing will come of it before the next
session. The second reason is precisely that mentioned by Palacio
Vallelersundi, namely that we would· like to minimize this
My committee has tried time and time again to come to an
right to immunity as much as possible and ensure that it
informal agreement with the Portuguese authorities, be­
will not imply any privilege for Members of this Parlia­
cause this is certainly not the first time that the Member
ment. It shall instead be just what it is intended to be,
State of Portugal has asked us to waive immunity, in par­
namely a safeguard for our freedom of expression. With
ticular with regard to Mr Campos. We invariably reply
that I would like to call for this report to be approved.
that the authorities can proceed with their cross-examina­
President. - The debate is closed. tion and enquiries as long as Parliament as an institution, Debates of the European Parliament 11.5.98 No 4-519/5
Wijsenbeek
or in this case the Members concerned, are able to carry President. - The debate is closed..
out their duties freely and without disruption. After all,
The vote will take place tomorrow at 12.00 noon.
the question of waiver of immunity cannot arise for us
yet, because no charges, criminal or otherwise, have yet
been brought.
4. Legal protection of biotechnological inventions
A delegation from our committee will soon be making a
President. - The next item is the recommendation for working visit to Portugal to raise this issue once again,
second reading (A4-0170/98), on behalf of the Commit­when it will be done directly and not only through an ex­
tee on Legal Affairs and Citizens' Rights, on the common change of correspondence with colleagues from the Por­
position established by the Council (C4-0132/98-tuguese Parliament and the relevant authorities at the
95/0350(COD)) with a view to the adoption of a Euro­Ministry of Justice.
pean Parliament and Council Directive on the legal pro­
Meanwhile, we stick to our proposal not to respond posi­ tection of biotechnological inventions (Rapporteur:
tively or negatively to this request. We ask the Public Mr Rothley).
Prosecution Service to conduct the necessary enquiries,
Rothley (PSE), rapporteur. - (DE) Mr President, ladies including cross-examining the Members, but to keep us
and gentlemen, I recommend that the European Parlia­informed and not to take any measures against the Mem­
ment should not adopt any amendments to the common bers in question which could prevent them from carrying
position. I have been rapporteur for ten years. If this di­out their duties in our institution before we have been
rective is adopted, I shall have everything that I want. The given an opportunity to express our view.
time is ripe for a decision. We need clear rules: what
Mrs Palacio and I ask the House to support this recom­ needs to be protected in the field of biotechnology, and
mendation. what does not?
Wibe (PSE). - (SV) Mr President, I would like to say Basically, the common position of the Council includes
again that I have no objections whatsoever to the report the proposals that Parliament accepted by a large majority
which Mr Wijsenbeek has drawn up. As he himself says, at first reading. We need a decision by the European leg­
the question of principle of course is actually the same as islature. This field is not regulated either by national pat­
in the previous business, that is whether a prosecutor shall ent legislation or by the European Patent Convention.
have the right to initiate a preliminary investigation, or That is why it is our own task to ensure that there is legal
whether this requires us to lift Members' immunity. In certainty in the European Union, and it is our duty to
this case the same resolution applies as in the Campos avoid legal fragmentation.
case.
The following points have played a role in the discussion:
However, there is a certain difference between these two the Convention on Biodiversity, the so-called Rio Con­
cases which may merit attention. I believe that we are al­ vention. Incidentally, the Convention gives explicit rec­
most completely in agreement in the Committee on the ognition to patents and other forms of protection of intel­
Rules of Procedure, the Verification of Credentials and lectual property. I want both the European Union and the
Immunities as regards what parliamentary immunity shall European Parliament to adhere strictly to the Rio Conven­
actually cover, to be precise, freedom of expression for tion, and want us to do all that we can to ensure that what
we Members; it must not therefore be able to be restricted was intended under this Convention actually becomes a
in any way. In principle, this means that we shall not be reality.
able to be prosecuted for anything which is said from the
Next year we shall review the TRIPs Agreement. If it rostrums in this House.
should become clear that it is really necessary to revise
We are likewise completely in agreement that when it is a the TRIPs Agreement, I shall certainly be one of those
question of 'ordinary' violations, that is to say criminal calling for it to be revised and for the directive to be
offences, then we Members of Parliament shall quite sim­ changed. But we do not know that yet.
ply be able to be prosecuted and our immunity lifted.
I have already said that regulation is also being extended
However, I should like to point out that there is a grey to what does not need to be protected. The discussion
area between these two extremes. It is thus conceivable about the human body that has lasted for years has found
for a Member to make a speech in Parliament which he expression in formulations which the Council has ac­
cannot be prosecuted for. If the Member then returns to cepted word for word.
his native country and makes exactly the same speech,
As far as cloning is concerned, the Council has adopted a
with a political content, shall he then be able to be prose­
stricter formulation than the European Parliament. In the
cuted for this? Are we thus to lift his immunity for this?
case of the gene sequence, which was very controversial
This is roughly what applies in the Campos case, but does
in the first proposal, we now have a clear ruling. In rela­
not apply in this other case, which concerns a possible of­
tion to animals, the Council has deleted the following
fence entirely unrelated to work as a Member of the Eu­
words, 'suffering of animals' and 'physical impairment'.
ropean Parliament.
I would point out that in the directive on animal experi­
ments, reference is made only to 'suffering'. I cannot be­With these detailed observations I wish to congratulate
lieve that because of these words, which have no inde-the rapporteur once again on a quite excellent report. Debates of the European Parliament No 4-519/6 11.5.98
Rothley
pendent significance, we would give serious thought to Anyone who has not accepted from today the establish­
actually starting a conciliation procedure. ment of the directive in discussion considers that the pat­
ent, in the context of a global economy which does not al­
In relation to the use of embryos, the Council has set some low marginal or exceptional solutions, is fundamental to
limitations: they are not to be used for industrial or com­
guarantee research, allow control, circulate results, and
mercial purposes. But I would only ask you to remember
encourage the consequent widespread economic develop­
that this was done with the United Kingdom in mind. We
ment.
cannot as European legislators decree that something
which does not contravene the underlying legal principles As for biotechnology, it is a retrograde step, in my view,
of all Member States is a contravention of public order, to state an ideological and prejudicial 'no', although I re­
and we cannot brand something that we do not jointly re­ spect that. In my view, it is necessary to govern it, direct
gard as abhorrent as a contravention of common decency. it, deal with the specific and restricted sphere of patenting
That is not acceptable! It is only exemplary in any case, methods, fixing precise and insurmountable ethical lim­
that is to say, other ways of using embryos may be inves­ its; this is the specific European dimension, on the basis
tigated with the proviso that they do not contravene public of the proposals which our Parliament put forward at first
order and common decency for other reasons. reading.
What are we dealing with here? We have to rise to the I do not recall the features of the text which are stated
challenges of the 21st century. We in the European Union here. Much inaccurate criticism was expressed on the
have been left behind, in computer technology, entertain­ agreement reached; it should be confirmed that it is not
ment electronics, laser technology, solar technology, in­ true that techniques of genome line genetic engineering
formation technology, and so on. How can we expect to can be patented; it is not true that blocking patents can be
win the battle for the future? How can we expect to create created, because the patent confers rights on the process
jobs? Not by giving each other hair cuts, I imagine! This which refer to a drug restricted only to the function
is not just a directive for European industry. No, this is shown. I cannot underestimate the possible imbalances
also a directive for research institutes, attached to the damaging agriculture and favouring industry and the risks
State, to universities or to private companies, which are of aggressive exploitation in the South of the world. Eu­
funded by licence fees for the patented results of their re­ rope must be in the forefront in fighting for effective co­
search. Do we want to chop off the legs of this research? operation and choices which are consistent with the pro­
Do we really want to destroy the financial basis of this re­ tection of biodiversity, respecting nature and the rights of
search? people, but it must do it with courageous policies, it is not
with the ability to give patents and with this directive that
(Heckling)
one can have an instrument for this purpose.
Research means investment. Investment means jobs. And
For this directive we must think positively however, when
if you reject this directive - with respect, Mr Graefe zu
looking at the future of biotechnology. To those who call
Baringdorf^ then please do not sign any more resolutions
to mind suggestive and frightening images of pig men or
against unemployment. The European Parliament can
new Frankensteins, as Dario Fo stated recently, I recall
consolidate its role as co-legislator of the European Union
other monsters, real and not imaginary: serious illnesses
with this directive. The time is ripe for a decision. We
which are not yet beaten, scourges such as cancer and
shall take this decision tomorrow.
AIDS. This directive can help us to conquer them, giving
certainties in terms of regulations.to research and indus­(Applause)
try.
Barzanti (PSE). - (IT) Mr President, in Europe a direc­
Mosiek-Urbahn (PPE). - (DE) Mr President, Commis­tive is required which harmonizes the procedures for pat­
enting biotechnological inventions. The question has sioner, ladies and gentlemen, first of all I would like to
been open for more than ten years. Finally it can be thank the rapporteur for his patience, his commitment and
closed, by approving the balanced and efficient text of the his incredible staying power during this ten year legisla­
tive procedure. I would like with wholehearted conviction common position established by the Council without fur­
to support his recommendation that we accept the com­ther amendment. I agree with the report drawn up by Mr
Rothley. mon position unchanged.
There is an urgent need for order and clarity in a situation I, too, recognize explicitly that the common position
which is chaotic and confused, to avoid disagreements in which is now before us represents an improvement over
interpretation and age-old disputes which continue to pe­ the first text. It presents many things in a way which is
nalize Europe, leaving the way clear for the large Ameri­ textually clearer and more easily understood. Nonethe­
can and Japanese multinationals. This directive is the re­ less, I cannot refrain from pointing out that in the case of
sult of the urgent need to define European rules, given the the second draft, which is now before us in the shape of
framework of standards which is becoming more precise the common position, we are not dealing with any basic
and detailed at international level: the Council of Eu­ change to the result that we achieved in the Conciliation
rope's Convention on Biomedicine and Human Rights Committee. At that time, the Group of the European Peo­
and the Rio Convention on Biodiversity, which is now ple's Party voted by an overwhelming majority for the
subject to verification in Bratislava. compromise reached in the Conciliation Committee, and No 4-519/7 Debates of the European Parliament 11.5.98
Mosiek-Urbahn
it is fully behind it. I would like to point this out in order as it is not included in the initial patent. This therefore is
to counteract the impression that a genuinely acceptable a directive which aims to guarantee the intellectual prop­
text has become available only in the context of the sec­ erty rights of the inventor on the basis of the usual three
ond legislative procedure. criteria - innovation, inventiveness, industrial application
- but gives it the framework of specific ethical rules.
Nonetheless, as I have already said, the present text is
more clearly drafted and for that reason it is to be wel­ It excludes from patentability the human body in all its
comed. Any problems in relation to the acceptability of stages of development, procedures which use germinal
cells, embryos and clones created for the purpose of re­this directive are based on a fundamental misunderstand­
producing human beings..Ethical guarantees are given by ing. It is assumed, for example, that all concerns in the
an independent European Group on Ethics which has just area of ethics also need to be regulated in the context of
been revived by President Santer, and which will work the patent directive. That is to miss a number of points.
closely with the European Parliament from now on, and
On the one hand, patenting an invention does not in any especially with STOA, its parliamentary assessment of­
sense mean that the patent holder is also allowed to de­ fice. We can be sure that biodiversity will be sustained,
ploy it or even to make use of it on an industrial scale. Na­ animal suffering will be taken into account and public or­
tional laws alone determine this. In the field of biotech­
der and morals will be referred to. So two special dispen­
nology, these are, in Germany for example, in the first
sations are intended to guarantee the 'farmers' privilege'
case the Gene Technology Act, the Embryo Protection to make private use both of the products of his harvest and
Act, and law on medicine. If standardization is desired in of the products from the cattle on his farm.
this field, we shall need a European Gene Technology Act
and a European Embryo Protection Act, but you cannot In the final analysis, the common position takes into ac­
make a start on this in the context of the bio-patents direc­ count two main concerns: respect for ethical rules, based
tive. on the fundamental principles of respect for life and the
rights of the human being, and the protection of intellec­
In addition, and contrary to the first impression, the rejec­
tual rights, a protection which should never be confused
tion of a patent application, in other words the refusal of
with the subsequent obtaining of a licence. In this light,
patent protection, does not mean that all exploitation of
the common position meets two important objectives.
the invention is excluded. It simply means that it is then
Firstly, an economic objective, which will enable the in­
freely available for anyone to use, provided that its use is
ternal market for biotechnological inventions to be devel­
permissible under general national laws.
oped, therefore attracting back investment which had left
the European Union, for this is something which today It is important to point this out in order to gain an under­
leaves us at a disadvantage in the face of competition standing of the directive, be it in its first or second draft,
from the United States, Japan and China. The return of and in order to classify it correctly in terms of its legal
this kind of economic dynamism will mean that new jobs character. Only if we bear these aspects in mind will we
will be created in innovative and rapidly growing enter­be in a position to take an objective view in the context of
prises. Secondly, the common position meets a humani­this legislative procedure. Patent law is not an instrument
tarian and public health objective. Here I refer to fighting for postulating a European legal and moral order. In this
famine in the world by using plants which are resistant to respect, I give my unreserved agreement to the substan­
drought or to insects which devastate crops, and fighting tive explanations of the rapporteur. We need this direc­
serious endemic illnesses by using new vaccines, such as tive, and if we adopt it tomorrow, as I hope we do, by
the ones currently used for hepatitis, and doubtless soon agreeing to the common position, we shall achieve a
for AIDS and for certain parasitic diseases, which are the strengthening of Europe's attraction as a location for bio­
real scourges of humanity. We must ensure proper diag­technology, and as a result wc shall be able to hold our
nosis of and treatment for genetic diseases, especially rare ground far better in terms of the law of competition.
ones known as orphan diseases. In other words we need
Pompidou (UPE). - (FR) Mr President, ladies and gen­ to live up to the expectations of millions of patients and
tlemen, the common position which has been submitted their families who are placing their hopes on the progress
today is much clearer and more precise in legal terms than of genetics and biotechnological inventions.
the initial draft, and, thanks to the rapporteur's remarka­
In these circumstances I support the adoption of the direc­ble and persistent efforts, it is also more ethically accept­
tive. In the current state of affairs I consider it a matter of able. This common position ensures that a clear distinc­
urgency to do so, in order to bring back the necessary cap­tion is made between the gene as a medium for hereditary
ital for developing and producing agricultural food prod­matter, and as a life giver, and the gene as a simple ele­
ucts in a context of product safety and consumer informa­ment in cellular machinery which is a medium for bio­
tion, but also to bring back the diagnostic tests, vaccines, technological inventions and a hope giver.
and medication which are essential in order to fight the
By clearly distinguishing between a discovery and an in­
new genetic and infectious diseases which plague man­
vention, and with reference to Articles 3 and 4, the com­
kind.
mon position avoids the appropriation of life, the human
body and its elements in their natural state. In recital 28, Monfils (ELDR). - (FR) Mr President, at last after years
a gene patented as part of an innovative procedure re­ the rules defining the conditions and limits on research
mains free for research and any later application insofar into the living will be finalized. Congratulations and No 4-519/8 Debates of the European Parliament 11.5.98
Monfils
thanks go to Mr Rothley, who led the debates with great technocratic and financial regulations. Nor does it pro­
skill. I am delighted to say that Parliament has modified vide for and establish rules and strict, pre-emptive, re­
the draft directive considerably and has been supported in pressive, continuous and effective controls to prevent the
this by the Council of Ministers. We now have a text risk of causing an affront to mankind and nature and the
which is balanced between the desire to allow scientific overturning of social life and of human growth and devel­
progress through research on the living, and the concern opment. On the contrary, we believe that, whether the re­
to protect human dignity and the integrity of human be­ port or the common position wishes it or not, these regu­
ings. From now on, any invention relating to a biological lations make it easier for oligopolies and monopolies to
substance or a breeding process can be the subject of a lay their hands on these biotechnological discoveries and
patent. Therefore, a partial gene sequence can be patented inventions and to apply them on behalf- always - of their
if the invention states a definite industrial application. own unregulated and inhuman profit. For this reason I
However, as Mr Pompidou said, the directive also sets said that we would vote against the report and the com­
limits on research and on patents. Article 6 states that the mon position and we request that they receive a radical
following cannot be patented: procedures for cloning hu­ overhaul in a direction and with a content which corre­
man beings, procedures which modify the genome line spond to the true mission of science, which is at the behest
genetic identity of the human being, the use of embryos of mankind. Finally science, with its discoveries, must en­
for industrial or commercial purposes, and of course the
able mankind to make its life better and more secure and
human body. Therefore it is clear that any objections re­
not to make it worse and to place it in danger of being de­
lating to the risk of genetic manipulation are not well
stroyed by a holocaust.
founded, inasmuch as the directive provides for the crea­
tion of a European ethics group, as Mr Pompidou also told
us, without detracting from the positions of the ethics
committees in each country. This provides an answer to
the deceptive campaigns being led in some countries,
IN THE CHAIR: URSULA SCHLEICHER such as my own, Belgium, where people are being made
to believe that cloning, the manipulation of genome line
Vice-President
cells or other experiments are permitted even though this
is not the case. By reading the directive it is clear that
Τ amino (V). - (IT) Madam President, the Green Group's
there is no truth in this.
opposition to this directive is well known, and our mo­
tives are also well known and clear.
Ladies and gentlemen, looking exclusively at health is­
sues, thanks to this directive it will be possible to carry out The directive proposes to patent living organisms, their
research which attempts to abolish genetic diseases, un­ genes and parts of their body, including those of mankind.
der good conditions. If there are those who would like to This is an absurdity clear to each and every citizen: a liv­
block this research for purely ideological reasons, I would ing organism is not an object, a thing, an invention, even
suggest that they meet some of the patients suffering from if some of its genes are modified, using biological sys­
genetic diseases like Huntingdon's disease and tell them tems which exist in nature. At most these genes are dis­
face to face that it will not be possible to cure them be­ covered, but the discoveries cannot be patented.
cause Parliament has decided not to do so. Furthermore,
the expenses involved in discovering new medication are We are not prejudicially against patenting techniques
huge. Patents are one way of covering the cost and Euro­ which allow modified organisms to be obtained or to iso­
pean industry cannot afford to remain outside this market late and replicate genes: but this does not authorize the
in biological products otherwise, by the year 2000, we patenting of organisms and genes.
will have to treat people with medication from the United
Genes are information, information which is written with States and Japan. Ladies and gentlemen, it would be un­
a molecular alphabet, and this information is the property thinkable to abandon the future of Europeans' health to
of the person to whom it belongs; it can be stated at most others.
that it is the collective property of humanity, but it cannot
be for any industry to transform it into goods. To define To conclude, I would say to all those who remember what
this information as patentable - for example a human was happening fifty years ago that history has shown that
gene when it is isolated and reproduced outside the body it was not delinquent doctors or scientists who created to­
- is like stating that the literary writings of Homer, Dante talitarian regimes, but quite the reverse. Every democratic
or Shakespeare - today the cultural property of humanity state must ensure that they do not prohibit, but rather lay
- can be patented if they are reproduced on another sys­down a framework for scientific activity to avoid any de­
tem which is the result of human technology, such as a viant behaviour. This is exactly what the directive does
compact disc for example. I think we all agree that it is the with its well-balanced text and we support it wholeheart­t disc which can be patented, not the work of edly.
Dante or Shakespeare. And in the same way the technol­
Ephremidis (GUE/NGL). - (EL) Mr President, we will ogies can be patented, not the genes and organisms. This
vote against both the common position and the Rothley logic may lead to very dangerous consequences: for ex­
report since it approaches this issue, which is of vital im­ ample it questions the Convention on Biodiversity, and
portance for the present and future of mankind alike, with the sole objective is the companies' profits.