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14.5.

1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 135/131

Reply

(20/21 December 1998)

The Code of Conduct on arms exports was adopted on 8 June 1998 with a view to setting high common
standards which should be regarded as the minimum for the management of, and restraint in, conventional
arms transfers by all Member States, and to strengthen the exchange of relevant information with a view to
achieving greater transparency within the Union.

The facts mentioned by the Honourable Member in his question have not been brought to the attention of
the Council.

The Honourable Member will be aware that individual arms export decisions, and therefore the
implementation of the Code, remain the responsibility of the Member States and of their national
licensing authorities.

Pursuant to the provisions of the Code, the Council is currently engaged in the definition of the detailed
procedure for the envisaged reporting exercise.

(1999/C 135/158) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2867/98


by Clive Needle (PSE) to the Commission

(28 September 1998)

Subject: Code of conduct on arms control

Despite the Code of Conduct on Arms Control agreed in May, the German company Heckler and Koch
have signed a contract with MKEK of Turkey under which the latter will manufacture 200 000 combat
rifles.

Given human rights abuses in Turkey does this contravene the Code of Conduct, and what steps is the
Commission taking on this issue?

Answer given by Mr van den Broek on behalf of the Commission

(5 November 1998)

The Union’s code of conduct on arms exports was formally adopted by the General Affairs Council of
8 June 1998. The code lists various criteria for Member States to take into account when selling military
supplies to third countries. These criteria include compliance with the Member States’ international
undertakings and the human rights situation in the country of destination. However, the code of conduct is
not an instrument of Community policy and cannot therefore, under the rules of the Treaty, be enforced by
the Commission. Each Member State is accordingly responsible for interpreting the criteria listed in the
code and assessing how they apply to its arms sales.

(1999/C 135/159) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2870/98


by Patricia McKenna (V) to the Commission

(28 September 1998)

Subject: Phosphorous pollution from detergents

Detergents are a major source of phosphorous in waste water. Such pollution has resulted in a legal ban on
phosphorous in detergents in Italy and Switzerland and voluntary agreements with the detergent industry
in other countries, such as Germany and the Netherlands. This has resulted, for example, in a
C 135/132 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 14.5.1999

94 % reduction in the amount of phosphorous in detergents in Germany since 1975. Such measures have
resulted in significant reductions in the input of phosphorous from detergents into the aquatic environment
in the countries where action has been taken.

No such action has been taken in Ireland, resulting in significant aquatic pollution from this source. Does
the Commission agree that standardisation is necessary to bring Ireland into line with the good practice
which is widespread across much of the rest of the EU and that this standardisation could come in the form
of a Europe-wide voluntary agreement with industry, as in Germany and the Netherlands, or a ban as in
Italy?

As a first step, does the Commission agree that phosphorous-free detergents should be VAT-exempted in
the EU to reduce the price deterrent currently in place which prevents consumers from buying
phosphorous-free products?

Answer given by Mr Bangemann on behalf of the Commission

(30 October 1998)

The Commission is currently examining the issues raised by phosphates in detergents. Controls on
marketing, whether legislative or voluntary, exist in some Member States and vary from one to another.
The general attitude toward phosphates in detergents has been evolving in favour of phosphates. Many
circles favour phosphates over other alternative detergent builders providing that wastewater treatment is
adequate, since phosphates can be readily removed from wastewater thus making them less of an
environmental problem than their substitutes.

Council Directive 91/271 EEC of 21 May 1991 concerning urban waste water treatment (1) provides that
urban waste water entering collecting systems shall before discharge be subject to secondary treatment (2)
and has established a schedule for the compliance of agglomerations of different sizes up to 31 December
2005. Furthermore, special provisions, mainly the requirement for nitrogen and phosphorous removal,
have been established for areas susceptible to eutrophication. However, not all Member States have
wastewater treatment systems in place.

The Commission is in the process of assessing the need for harmonization of the marketing of phosphates
throughout the Community. No decision on harmonisation has been taken yet, and in the absence of
harmonisation, the Commission has not considered fiscal incentives.

(1) OJ L 135, 30.5.1991.


(2) ‘secondary treatment’ means treatment of urban waste water by a process generally involving biological treatment
with a secondary settlement or other process in which the requirements established in Table 1 of Annex I of the
directive are respected.

(1999/C 135/160) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2879/98


by Panayotis Lambrias (PPE) to the Commission

(28 September 1998)

Subject: Infringement of Directive 91/674/EEC concerning insurance undertakings

According to allegations by various bodies which have now come to light and reached the attention of the
Commission, the Greek Ministry of Development is failing to show the necessary rigour in monitoring
compliance with Greek and Community legislation, thereby permitting many insurance undertakings to
accumulate deficits of millions of drachmas and illegally attempt to cover them during the following
accounting period. This is resulting in constantly increasing deficits, thereby placing policyholders in a
precarious position and allowing certain undertakings illegal access to stock exchange listing.

In the light of the information available to it, does the Commission consider that Directive 91/674/EEC (1)
is being properly implemented in Greece and, if not, will it take appropriate measures?

(1) OJ L 374, 31.12.1991, p. 7.