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1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 118/63

(1999/C 118/076) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2375/98

by Eryl McNally (PSE) to the Commission

(27 July 1998)

Subject: Exploitation of single travellers

Having already felt the need to establish a support group − STAG − Single Travellers Action Group −
which already has a membership of 4 000, a constituent of mine has written to express concern that the
issue of single travellers is still very much ignored. Single travellers continue to be exploited by travel
companies charging higher prices for single travellers, for example, and national consumer groups do not
appear to offer any protection.

Bearing in mind the increasing number of people living alone, does the Commission envisage submitting
any proposals to prevent these inequalities from occurring and thus protect the single traveller on a
European level? What degree of protection does Europe currently offer?

Answer given by Mrs Bonino on behalf of the Commission

(20 October 1998)

Council Directive 90/314/EEC of 13 June 1990 on package travel, package holidays and package tours (1),
aims to approximate the laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to
packages sold or offered for sale in the territory of the Community. The directive is designed to protect
consumers who buy package travel in the Community.

Article 2.4 of the Directive defines the consumer as the person who takes or agrees to take the package
(‘the principal contractor’), or any person on whose behalf the principal contractor agrees to purchase the
package (‘the other beneficiaries’) or any person to whom the principal contractor or any of the other
beneficiaries transfers the package (‘the transferee’). Therefore the Community text does not make any
distinction between travellers, single or not, and its provisions apply to all of them.

In the absence of more detailed information about possible inequalities, the Commission does not see in
which way single travellers are disadvantaged. Generally speaking a higher price for single travellers is
one of those principles accepted by the mechanisms of the market, because single travellers cause higher
accommodation and travelling costs and this has an obvious repercussion in prices.

(1) OJ L 158, 23.6.1990.

(1999/C 118/077) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2384/98

by Giovanni Burtone (PPE) to the Commission

(17 July 1998)

Subject: Compatibility with the Treaty of measures to defer payment of tax and reduce the tax liabilities
of Sicilian firms

Following the earthquake that struck eastern Sicily on 13 December 1990, the Italian Government allowed
firms situated in the communes affected to suspend payment of, inter alia, social security contributions
and VAT.

In the next few days, the firms in question must pay back the relevant instalments of their deferred tax bills
for 1990, 1991 and 1992.

Immediate repayment of these deferred taxes would lead to the collapse of many firms as a result of the
economic depression that has affected the Region from 1990 to 1998, as shown by a reduction in turnover
which has had a drastic effect on Sicily’s economic situation.
C 118/64 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 29.4.1999

Whereas the INPS (the National Institute of Social Insurance) has provided for social security payments to
be paid back within 10 years, the tax authorities envisage a much shorter time-scale. The impact on
employment would be dramatic to say the least, given that this area is already characterized by a very high
unemployment rate.

The EU regards combatting unemployment as one of its priorities. The Luxembourg European Council
identified fiscal policy as one of the instruments to be used to reduce unemployment.

In particular, the Luxembourg European Council of 21 November 1997 confirmed the need to make the
tax system more favourable to employment and reverse the tendency to increase the burden of taxes and
social security charges on labour. The Member States undertook, therefore, to reduce the tax burden on

In view of the foregoing, would the Commission state whether it would be compatible with the Treaty to
apply to firms which had been allowed to defer payment, a measure which would

− defer payment of the tax due until 31 December 1998 and

− enable tax liabilities to be offset against investment, modernization and increasing the employment

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(2 October 1998)

In the tax field, value added tax (VAT) has been harmonised on the basis of the Sixth Council Directive of
17 May 1977 (1), as last amended by Council Directive 96/95/EC of 20 December 1996 (2).

In particular, where taxpayers’ obligations are concerned, Article 22(5) of the Directive lays down the
principle whereby every taxable person has to pay the amount of VAT when submitting his tax return. By
way of derogation from that principle, the second sentence of Article 22(5) allows Member States to ‘fix a
different date for the payment of the amount’. However, this derogation may not have the effect of
cancelling or reducing the tax debt.

Moreover, any extension of the payment date would constitute state aid which would have to be examined
by the Commission in the light of Article 92 et seq. of the EC Treaty.

In accordance with Article 22(9)(c) of the Sixth Directive, Member States ‘may release taxable persons
from payment of the tax due where the amount involved is insignificant’. It follows that, except in cases
where the amount payable by a taxable person as VAT to the tax authorities can be regarded as very small,
a Member State is not authorised to reduce the tax debt payable by that person.

(1) Directive 77/388/EEC on the harmonisation of the laws of the Member States relating to turnover taxes −
Common system of value added tax: uniform basis of assessment (OJ L 145, 13.6.1977).
(2) OJ L 338, 28.12.1996.

(1999/C 118/078) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2385/98

by Hiltrud Breyer (V) to the Commission

(17 July 1998)

Subject: Continuing shipments of Italian waste for disposal in the special waste incineration plant in
Biebesheim (Germany)

On several occasions since 1997, the Darmstadt administrative district authorities have granted the Italian
firm 3 R Servizi S.p.A authorization for shipments of Italian waste to be disposed of at the Biebesheim
special waste incineration plant (SAV) pursuant to Articles 4(2)(a) and 5(1) of Regulation (EEC)
259/93 (1) on waste shipments. The importer of the waste is the Hessische Industriemüll GmbH (HIM).