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30. 4. 98

Official Journal of the European Communities

C 134/63

(98/C 134/78)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-3036/97

by Amedeo Amadeo (NI) to the Commission

(1 October 1997)

Subject: Charging of heavy goods vehicles

With reference to the Proposal for a Council directive on the charging of heavy goods vehicles for the use of certain infrastructures (COM (96)0331 final − 96/0182 SYN) ( 1 ), the predominant approach towards fuel taxes in the European Union clearly owes more at present to fiscal policy than to transport policy since excise duties on fuel are and will continue to be a major source of revenue.

Will the Commission eliminate all the inconsistencies between indirect taxes, which are the product of fiscal policy, and direct taxes charged to cover the use of infrastructures and external costs, which are the product of transport policy?

( 1 )

OJ C 59, 26.2.1997, p. 9.

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(12 November 1997)

The Commission accepts that fuel excise duties are primarily used in Member States as a means of raising revenue. However, in its proposal for a directive restructuring the Community framework for the taxation of energy products ( 1 ), the Commission has recognised that excise duty on motor fuels is also used by Member States to pursue other national environment, transport and energy policy objectives.

The Commission also recognises the need for the direct and indirect charges that are imposed on individual road users in relation to their road use to be part of a coherent charging system.

Consequently, a special restructuring provision has been made in the Commission’s recent proposal for a Council directive for the taxation of energy products which would allow Member States to apply levels of taxation on motor fuels lower than the minimum levels specified in this directive, in conjunction with the introduction or modification of specific charging systems for road transport that are related to the recovery of costs, such as infrastructure, congestion and environmental costs.

( 1 )

OJ C 139, 6.5.1997.

(98/C 134/79)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-3042/97

by Amedeo Amadeo (NI) to the Commission

(1 October 1997)

Subject: White Paper on railways

The Economic and Social Committee has issued an opinion on the White Paper: a strategy for revitalizing the Community’s railways (COM(96) 0421 final) ( 1 ). As regards old debts, improving the financial position and infrastructure, a key strategic element in the White Paper’s push for liberalization of the railways is independent commercial management.

An essential precondition for this and hence for compliance with Directive 91/440/EEC ( 2 ) on the development of the Community’s railways is the elimination of old debts.

Will the Commission say whether progress on this has been incomplete and has varied from one Member State to another and whether it now intends to take prompt action?

( 1 ) ( 2 )

OJ C 206, 7.7.1997, p. 23. OJ L 237, 24.8.1991, p. 25.

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C 134/64

Official Journal of the European Communities

30. 4. 98

Answer given by Mr Kinnock on behalf of the Commission

(31 October 1997)

The Commission believes that relief from past debt to create sound finances is an essential part of any strategy to revitalise the Community’s railways. Directive 91/440/EEC on the development of the Community’s railways already obliges Member States to help reduce debts to a level that does not impede sound financial management. The Commission has launched a study of progress made in reducing debts and will present the results in a general communication on the implementation and results of Directive 91/440/EEC, that it intends to present to the Council and the Parliament early next year.

(98/C 134/80)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-3050/97

by Amedeo Amadeo (NI) to the Commission

(2 October 1997)

Subject: Green Paper on commerce

With reference to the green paper on commerce (COM(96) 530 final), will the Commission set up a statistical observatory on commerce to collect, process and publicize:

1. information on supply and demand (market share per distribution channel, price levels, volume levels, etc.);

2. information by commercial sector and by region?

Answer given by Mr Papoutsis on behalf of the Commission

(7 November 1997)

As stressed in the Green Paper on commerce, improving the statistics on commerce is one of the Commission's concerns. Macroeconomic statistics must be able to meet the needs of decision-makers in the sector, who require reliable, homogeneous and constantly updated information on developments. The Commission has therefore planned a number of measures to this end which will lead to a series of publications.

At the regular meetings of Eurostat's Working Party on Statistics on Commerce, the Commission is working on implementing Council Regulation (EEC) No 58/97 of 20 December 1996 on structural business statistics ( 1 ), which contains an annex devoted to commerce and distribution. When presenting this Regulation to operators in the sector, the Commission proposed that a conference be held on statistics on commerce. This event, aimed at presenting and reporting on the latest figures available and at allowing those concerned to express their views, should take place during the first quarter of 1998. A conference of this kind could be repeated on an annual basis.

In view of the work outlined above, there are currently no plans to set up an observatory.

( 1 )

OJ L 14, 17.1.1997.

(98/C 134/81)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-3052/97

by Amedeo Amadeo (NI) to the Commission

(2 October 1997)

Subject: Green paper on public procurement

The Commission has published a Green Paper on public procurement in the European Union: Exploring the way forward (COM(96) 583 final). Will the Commission ensure that, in awarding public contracts, contracting