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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 92 E/43

6. In the context of the solution referred to in the previous paragraph, the Commission was given a
mandate to find a solution with Korea by 30 September 2002. Meetings with Korea in August and
September 2002 ended in failure, and so the Council, at its meeting on 30 September 2002, took note, on
the basis of a statement by the Commission representative, of the negative outcome of the negotiations
between the Commission and the Korean authorities and of the measures to be taken in this area.

(1) OJ L 172, 2.7.2002, p. 1 et seq.

(2003/C 92 E/045) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1221/02

by Michael Cashman (PSE) to the Commission
(29 April 2002)

Subject: The safety of lorry drivers with left-hand drive cabs on roads in the United Kingdom

Could the Commission give details as to the number of accidents caused by non-UK lorries on United
Kingdom roads that cause accidents due to the fact that drivers are on the left-hand side of the cab? Could
the Commission also give details of the number of accidents caused by UK drivers on the continent due to
their right-hand drive cabs? Can the Commission state what measures are being taken to ensure that lorry
drivers are equipped to cover their ‘blind side’ when travelling on roads abroad, where they find themselves
in this position?

Answer given by Mrs de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(6 June 2002)

The Commission is not in a position to give details as to the number of accidents caused by non-British
lorries on United Kingdom roads due to the fact that drivers are on the left-hand side of the cabin, nor can
it give details as to the equivalent number of accidents on the continent.

The Community data base on road accidents is built on administrative police reports which give factual
information without indicating the causes of accidents. Determining the causes needs in-depth
investigations that are carried out under the responsibility of judicial authorities in the Member States.

With regard to the measures taken by the Commission, the Honourable Member is kindly requested to
refer to the answer to the written question E-0852/02 by Mr Wiersma (1) about blind spot mirrors. The
proposed amendments to the rear view mirrors directive will in general improve the field of vision for
truck drivers.

(1) OJ C 277 E, 14.11.2002, p. 96.

(2003/C 92 E/046) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1253/02

by Charles Tannock (PPE-DE) to the Commission
(6 May 2002)

Subject: Rules governing the provision of state aids with particular reference to Mecklenburger Metallguss

A British company Stone Manganese Maríne, a world leader in its field, has made propellers for the Queen
Mary, the Queen Elizabeth, the QE2 and many of the Royal Navy’s best-known aircraft-carriers and
battleships. It is now about to lay-off most of its employees because it has found that its tenders are
constantly being undercut by the German company Mecklenburger Metallguss, which has been
transformed over the last three years, together with the help of direct subsidies that have been approved
by the Commission, from a struggling relic of East-German Communism to the world’s largest marine
propeller manufacturer in the world.

Under certain circumstances, subsidies are permitted under the rules governing state aid. Commissioner
Monti has also gained an impressive reputation for acting ‘without fear or favour’ regarding the application
of state aids. Nevertheless, does the Commission believe that it is appropriate to permit subsidies which
will allow an otherwise struggling firm to wipe-out its major competitors by undercutting their tenders by
C 92 E/44 Official Journal of the European Union EN 17.4.2003

up to 20 % and, if not, are there provisions for reducing the level of subsidy to ensure that state aids, even
when approved by the Commission, enhance rather than reduce competition within the Union? In
particular, are the rules sufficiently flexible to allow challenges to be made more than two months after the
Commission has made a determination on the legality of a state subsidy where there is a significant change
in circumstance on the part of either the recipient of the state subsidy or a competitor?

Finally, is the Commission certain that the levels of subsidy provided to Mecklenburger Metallguss do not
exceed those approved by the Commission and what is the limit of discretion on the part of the
Commission regarding the precise level of state subsidy which can be permitted at any particular time?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(20 June 2002)

According to current State aid rules Member States can grant state aid for rescuing and restructuring of
companies in difficulties, if strict conditions are complied with. The Commission bases its assessment of
the compatibility of the aid in these cases on the 1999 Community guidelines on State aid for rescuing
and restructuring firms in difficulty. All individual grants of State aid to such companies are thoroughly
scrutinised by the Commission on the basis of the guidelines.

The reason for allowing aid to be granted for restructuring of companies in difficulties is to enable them to
restore their long term viability, so that they can compete in the market without any further State
intervention. This was also the aim of the restructuring of Mecklenburger Metallguss. At the same time the
aid should not distort competition in the market and the Commission requires a reduction of the capacities
of the aided company as a counterpart for receiving the aid in question. The restructuring of
Mecklenburger Metallguss was, at the time, not considered to create undue distortions of competition. In
addition, Mecklenburger Metallguss reduced its capacities in the segment for standard cast iron products
by 40 %.

As regards your question on possibilities of changing the Commission Decision, the Commission can
revoke its decision on its own initiative, where the decision was based on incorrect information that was
provided during the procedure and that was a determining factor in the decision. The Commission
Decision can also be challenged before the Court of First Instance by an interested party within two
months of the publication of the measure.

According to the restructuring guidelines, the aid must be limited to the strict minimum required for the
restructuring plan to be carried out; it must be limited in time to the restructuring period; and must be
earmarked for measures identified in the restructuring plan. When assessing the aid, the Commission needs
to ensure that these criteria are fulfilled. The Commission is not in a possession of any information
indicating that Mecklenburger Metallguss might have received any aid other than the DEM 13,75 million
approved in the 1999 decision and part of the aid granted to Dieselmotorenwerk Rostock GmbH, also
partially approved in 1999 (1).

(1) Commission Decision 1999/600/EC of 21 April 1999 on the State aid granted by Germany to Dieselmotorenwerk
Rostock GmbH  OJ L 232, 4.9.1999.

(2003/C 92 E/047) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1301/02

by Michael Cashman (PSE) to the Commission

(7 May 2002)

Subject: Voting rights of EU citizens

Is the Commission aware that currently UK citizens who have been living abroad for more than 15 years
lose their right to vote in the UK? Is the Commission aware of similar rules within other EU Member
States? Can the Commission comment as to whether it plans to take any action on this issue?