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C 235 E/100 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 21.8.


(2001/C 235 E/105) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0042/01

by Johannes Swoboda (PSE) to the Commission

(16 January 2001)

Subject: Refusal by Swiss firms to supply spare parts to clock- and watchmakers in the EU Member States

Many clock- and watchmakers in the EU whose customers bring them watches and clocks to be repaired
find it difficult to carry out these repairs because Swiss watch and clock manufacturers, who in any case
have a general agency in EU countries, refuse to supply spare parts, in case the clock- and watchmakers do
not have contracts with the particular manufacturers.

To what extent does this attitude constitute unlawful discrimination against various clock- and watch-
makers, and to what extent can the Commission intervene to prevent this practice, which is obstructing
people in carrying out their work?

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(8 March 2001)

Under block exemption Commission Regulation (EC) No 2790/1999 of 22 December 1999 on the
application of Article 81(3) (ex Article 85) of the EC Treaty to categories of vertical agreements and
concerted practices (1) selective distribution systems as described in the question are exempted from the
prohibition laid down in Article 81(1) of the EC Treaty when the manufacturer’s share of the relevant
market does not exceed 30 %. Below this threshold it is considered that the possible negative effects on
competition will usually be minimal or non-existent and are outweighed by the expected positive effects
resulting, for instance, from better service by trained staff. Above that threshold an individual examination
to assess possible anti-competitive effects, or enhancement of efficiency, may be required.

In order to be covered by the block exemption, the selective distribution agreement must in addition fulfil
the requirements of Articles 4 and 5 of the Regulation. The most important requirement (Article 4(2)) in
respect of the question raised by the Honourable Member is that the watch manufacturer may not impose
a restriction on the sale of spare parts to independent repairers if these spare parts are not produced by the
watch manufacturer himself. In other words, if these spare parts are produced by another undertaking,
attempts by the watch manufacturer to oblige that undertaking to supply him alone could result in
withdrawal of the block exemption

(1) OJ L 336, 29.12.1999.

(2001/C 235 E/106) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0047/01

by Mauro Nobilia (UEN) to the Commission

(22 January 2001)

Subject: The particular working conditions of workers employed by Saipem and Saitre belonging to the
ENI group in Italy

Employees who carry out drilling work for Saipem and Saitre, companies in the ENI group (Italy) which
are involved in oil prospecting, work 84 hours per week. This category of worker is employed between 15
and 18 days per month, starting at 8.00 a.m. and finishing at 8.00 p.m. They work in all weathers, with
temperatures ranging from 40 °C in summer to below zero in winter. These particular working conditions
expose this category to a higher than average risk of accidents. They are not yet recognised as a category
exposed to the risks of strenuous work and do not therefore enjoy the relevant safeguards. In view of the
above, can the Commission ascertain whether the above details are true, whether the working hours of
those carrying out drilling work for Saipem and Saitre contravene Community legislation on working