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C 277 E/150 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 14.11.

2002

Will the Commission state whether, in implementing Community directives, Member States are allowed to
create conditions of competition between fleets belonging to different regions of the same country or
between fleets from the same region (as is currently the case in Italy, in the Marches Region, because the
decision of the Ministry for Agricultural and Forestry Policy to authorise vessels from the Ascoli province
to fish in Ancona province waters is having serious economic and social repercussions and leading to
public unrest), which have a significant impact on fishing capacities and the quality of catches in that area
and damage the interests of small owners in particular?

Will the Commission state whether the current crisis can be tackled using the aid instruments referred to
in Article 16(1)(c) of Regulation (EC) No 2792/1999 (1), which provides for ‘a plan […] for the recovery of
a resource threatened with exhaustion’, rather than by displacing fleets, as the Italian Government Ministry
has done, or whether other Community instruments can be used to deal with this situation?

(1) OJ L 337, 30.12.1999, p. 10.

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(22 May 2002)

The distribution of fishing rights between fishing vessels of a Member State is a competence of that
Member State. In the case mentioned, the impact of the situation described, such as a conflict between
local fleets, is something that the Italian authorities should evaluate and decide on, provided that an
increase in fishing rights does not lead to an over-exploitation of the resource.

Article 16(1c) of Council Regulation (EC) No 2792/1999 of 17 December 1999 laying down the detailed
rules and arrangements regarding Community structural assistance in the fisheries sector, establishes that
Member States may grant compensation to fishermen and owners of vessels for temporary cessation of
activities when a plan is introduced for the recovery of a resource threatened with exhaustion. In the event
of unforeseeable circumstances, particularly those caused by biological factors, (Regulation (EC) No 2792/
1999 Article 16.1a), compensation may last no more than two months per year. In order to apply this
option a favourable report from the Scientific, technical and economic committee for fisheries (STECF) on
the corresponding recovery plan would be required. However, it must be stressed that this type of aid is
designed to assist the recovery of threatened resources, not to solve conflicts about rights to resources.
Further, tie-up aid schemes are designed to address short-term difficulties associated with stock recovery.
Events that occur repeatedly in a fishery should be taken into account in multiannual management plans
and be taken in charge by the sector itself.

(2002/C 277 E/171) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1128/02


by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(22 April 2002)

Subject: Obstacles to the provision of drinking water in the Netherlands as a result of the increasing
chemical pollution of the Rhine

1. Is the Commission aware that, in general, on the basis of agreements between the Rhine riparian
states, the water in the lower reaches of the Rhine, which in the past was strongly contaminated with
waste products from the German and Swiss chemical industries and French potash mines, has since 1995,
again been suitable for immediate transport via pipelines to sedimentation and purification basins or to
dune areas where drinking water is produced for Amsterdam, Rotterdam and other large towns in the
western Netherlands?

2. Is it also aware that since 1998 the supply of water to these purification plants has often had to be
suspended as a result of serious levels of chemical pollution, for example, between 12 November and
22 December 2001 and between 4 and 24 January 2002 in response to high levels of the pesticides
isoproturon and chlorotoluron, prompting an investigation into the consequences by the Ministry of
Transport and Water Management, which has responsibility for surface water in the Netherlands?
14.11.2002 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 277 E/151

3. What is causing the increasing levels of pollution and where does this pollution come from? Does it
reflect the return or increasing levels of existing pollutants, or new sources of pollution not covered by the
agreements currently in force?

4. In the Commission’s view, are these levels of pollution the result of breaches of existing agreements
between the Rhine riparian states, which can also be dealt with on the basis of those agreements, or are
new agreements required if a solution is to be found?

5. What measures does the Commission plan to take to help put a stop, as soon as possible, to the
ongoing or renewed instances of pollution of the water in the Rhine, which, despite the thorough
purification methods now used, make that water unfit for human consumption?

Source: ‘Spits’ of 4 April 2002.

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(3 June 2002)

The Commission is representing the Union in the International Convention of the river Rhine and is thus
fully involved in its activities. The Commission is also aware of the improvement in water quality through
the publications of RIWA (water companies using the river Rhine for the production of drinking water)
and through returns submitted by the Member States in the frame of the implementation of various
legislation on water. The improvement in the quality of the river Rhine results in the possibility to use the
water for the abstraction of drinking water and in the return of the salmon. The co-operation initiated
under the convention is also aiming at monitoring the water quality and an early warning system is in
place in case of accidental pollution.

The Commission is aware of the incidents reported by the Honourable Member. The contamination has
been apparent since 1994 and is often thought to be caused by increased levels of pesticides. The
contamination originated from the upstream catchment area and is likely to be caused by diffuse
discharges from agricultural sources. One of the objectives set by the Riparian countries is the reduction of
pesticides; according to the available data (from the Convention), considerable reduction has been achieved
but further efforts need to be done. Regulation of discharges of pesticides and effects on surface water are
covered by existing agreements between Member States and can be dealt with within these agreements.
Also pesticides are regulated through the Council Directive 91/414/EEC of 15 July 1991 concerning the
placing of plant protection products on the markets (1), Directive 98/8/EC of the Parliament and of the
Council of 16 February 1998 concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market (2), and Council
Directive 75/440/EEC of 16 June 1975 concerning the quality required of surface water intended for the
abstraction of drinking water in the Member States (3). In the case of non-compliance this is likely to be
due to failing national legislation or regulation and control within the Member States (where discharges
take place).

The Water Framework Directive (4) constitutes a comprehensive new water legislation with the obligation
to get, by 2015, all waters to good quality (good status). Transboundary co- operation will be mandatory
to establish the necessary measures at river basin level. In parallel, at Union level, measures will be taken to
address particularly dangerous substances and pesticides in particular. The Parliament and the Council have
adopted in November 2001 a list of priority substances (5). For these substances, standards for emissions
and water quality will be set and certain substances will be phased out.

The Commission is of the view that the existing agreement on the Rhine and the implementation of the
Water Framework Directive in close co-operation with all Riparian states will ensure achieving the
environmental objectives in the river Rhine both as regards ecology and its use for the abstraction of
drinking water.

(1) OJ L 230, 19.8.1991.


(2) OJ L 123, 24.4.1998.
(3) OJ L 194, 25.7.1975.
(4) Directive 2000/60/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for
Community action in the field of water policy, OJ L 327, 22.12.2000.
(5) Decision No 2455/2001/EC of the Parliament and of the Council of 20 November 2001 establishing the list of
priority substances in the field of water policy and amending Directive 2000/60/EC, OJ L 331, 15.12.2001.