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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/99

(2003/C 137 E/112) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2613/02

by Sérgio Marques (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(18 September 2002)

Subject: Convention on the future of the European Union

The European Council in Laeken decided to convene a Convention to which it assigned the task of
outlining the future shape of the European Union. The conclusions of the Convention will serve as a basis
for the deliberations of the Intergovernmental Conference on the revision of the Treaties scheduled for

During the first phase of the deliberations  the listening phase  various bodies submitted contributions.
The Commission itself submitted to the Convention last May its thoughts on the fundamental tasks of the
Union and the constitutional framework appropriate for carrying them out. These observations were far-
ranging and highly relevant.

The various contributions received by the Convention during the listening phase, which came to an end
last July, already suggest specific guidelines for the ultimate approach to the various issues under debate.

Can the Commission therefore say:

1. what its position is on the guidelines which are beginning to emerge regarding the various issues to be
tackled by the Convention;

2. whether it intends to express an official opinion at this stage in the deliberations and send the
Convention further observations on the specific issues raised in the context of the broad listening
exercise carried out?

Answer given by Mr Prodi on behalf of the Commission

(11 October 2002)

The Commission gives its opinion on the various questions which the Convention is called on to consider
when they are raised in the plenary session or in the working parties, via statements by its representatives
in the Convention. The Commission is planning to follow up its Communication of 22 May 2002,
‘A Project for the European Union’ (1), with a Communication dealing more specifically with institutional

(1) COM(2002) 247 final.

(2003/C 137 E/113) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2621/02

by Maurizio Turco (NI) to the Commission

(12 September 2002)

Subject: Benefits of liberalisation and costs of protectionism

On 4 July this year the Commission submitted individual requests to 109 member countries of the WTO,
asking them to reduce or eliminate barriers to the free movement of services and make access to those
markets easier.

Can the Commission say:

 what the requests submitted contained and what requests have been received so far in response,
specifying the sectors and countries to which they were submitted and from which they were received;

 whether it has assessed the scale of the benefits, in terms of export growth, the EU would enjoy if the
requests are accepted; on the other hand what the benefits  and hence the costs if the requests are
not accepted  would be for the third countries if their requests to the EU are granted;
C 137 E/100 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.2003

 whether it has assessed the scale of the costs borne by the developing countries as a result of
Community protectionism in the agricultural sector and the amount of EU development aid allocated
to those same countries, as well as the increased costs to European consumers of a failure to liberalise
the agricultural market?

Answer given by Mr Lamy on behalf of the Commission

(15 October 2002)

The Community and its Member States have essentially submitted their initial requests under the services
negotiations to all World Trade Organisation (WTO) members with the exception of the countries that are
parties to the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement, the candidate countries for accession to the
Union, and countries in the Balkans that are WTO members.

The initial requests, as submitted, seek improved market access in the following sectors: Professional
Services, Business Services, Telecommunications Services, Postal & Courier Services, Construction and
related Engineering Services, Distribution Services, Financial Services, Transport Services, Energy Services,
Environmental Services, Tourism and Travel Related Services, News Agency Services. More generally the
requests do not seek to dismantle or undermine public services, nor to privatise state-owned companies.
No requests are being made on health services or audio-visual services to any country, and only the United
States will receive a very limited and targeted request vis-à-vis privately-funded higher education services.

It should be noted that there are certain adjustments in the requests submitted in an attempt to balance on
the one hand the Community’s offensive interests and on the other hand the level of development of the
country concerned. For example, the Community is generally seeking commitments in fewer sectors and
modes of supply for the least developed countries (LDCs), just as it is requesting market access
commitments in a more limited number of sectors. Further details on the requests are available in the
summary of the requests published on the Directorate General Trade web site (1).

In terms of initial requests to the Community from third countries, so far requests from the following
19 countries have been received: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, Hong Kong, Japan,
Korea, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Paraguay, Singapore, Switzerland, Taiwan, Uruguay,
United States. The Commission is still in process of analysing these, but a first examination reveals that all
services sectors covered by the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) are targeted by the
incoming requests, although they obviously vary in terms of scope and in terms of level of ambition from
one country to the next.

Due to the difficulties related to measuring services trade flows, statistics on trade in services still lack the
level of detail and sophistication of merchandise trade statistics. This makes it difficult to quantify the exact
benefits or costs as the Honourable Member requests. However, most of the studies undertaken by
organisations such as the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Bank
and the WTO tend to show that gains from liberalising services may be substantially greater than those
from liberalising trade in goods. This is in part due to the fact that current levels of protection are higher
in the former and because liberalisation of services would also create additional spill-over benefits from the
required movement of capital and labour. For a good overview of empirical studies undertaken on the
economic effects of services liberalisation the Commission would refer the Honourable Member to a
background note from the WTO secretariat from 29 May 1998 (2).

The Commission is aware of external studies and has carried out its own studies which examine both the
costs and benefits to developing counties of its agricultural policy.

The Community is by far the largest market in the world for products originating in the developing
countries in large part as a result of trade preferences granted to developing countries. In the period
1997-1999, the Community imported an average of USD 35,5 billion of agricultural products from
developing countries. This is more than the United States, Japan, Canada, Australia and New Zealand did
together. In 2000, 62,5 % of the agricultural imports of the Community came from developing countries.
Moreover, recent research (2002) conducted for WTO shows that 70 % of the Community imports from
developing countries, and almost all from least developing countries, came in duty free. The ‘Everything
12.6.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/101

but Arms’ (EBA) initiative adopted by the Council in February 2001 and the ongoing work for rendering
existing preferential schemes more stable and predictable (imminent negotiations of the Economic
Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the African, Caribbean and Pacific States (ACP) agreements and
generalized system of preferences (GSP) scheme) provide evidence of the willingness to consolidate this
position. In the multilateral arena, flexibility, preferences and technical assistance provide evidence of the
commitment to special and differential treatment and the Community is engaged in negotiations that will
enhance these provisions.

As regards development aid, the Community already accounts for some 55 % of total international Official
Development Assistance and more than two thirds of grant aid. In 2000, the Commission has committed
EUR 8,4 billions and spent EUR 4,9 billions in development aid.

A recent initiative also foresees to provide ad hoc technical assistance to favour real access to world trade.

The Commission is clearly committed to continuing the Common agricultural policy (CAP) reform process
and negotiates further trade liberalisation in the WTO. The presentation of the CAP Mid-term review is a
clear step towards reducing trade distortion and increasingly meet the expectations of European citizens in
areas such as enhancement of the environment, food safety and animal welfare.

(1) http://europa.eu.int/comm/trade/.
(2) S/C/W/26/Add.1.

(2003/C 137 E/114) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2640/02

by Daniel Hannan (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(12 September 2002)

Subject: Four unanswered questions

The rules state that the Commission is supposed to answer standard written questions within six weeks.
I have put four questions on 9 July  questions E-2165/02 on unpaid workers, E-2164/02 on curved
bananas, E-2163/02 on a European Central Bank advertising campaign and E-2162/02 on the EU’s High
Representative in Bosnia  which remain unanswered. Would the Commission (a) answer these questions
and (b) account for the delay? Furthermore, why has the Commission opted not to reply to the last part of
question E-1540/02 on Commissioners taking part in domestic politics?

Answer given by Ms de Palacio on behalf of the Commission

(10 October 2002)

The Commission would first restate the major importance it attaches to the exercice by members of
Parliament of their right under Article 197(3) of the EC Treaty to address themselves directly to it in order
to obtain information and thereby to strengthen Parliament’s political supervision over it.

The Commission endeavours to answer questions put to it by members within the deadline sought by
Parliament. It is also pays attention to the quality of its answers. The time needed to prepare a draft answer
for approval by the Commission and thus to supply an answer to a Parliamentary question depends on a
host of factors that do not always allow the desired deadline to be met. These include the immediate
availability of, or the need to track down, the information that will enable the Commission to take a
position on a particular issue and to provide the information requested, as well as the need to ensure that
all answers to Parliamentary questions are endorsed by the Commission as a body.