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C 192 E/64 Official Journal of the European Union EN 14.8.

2003

(2003/C 192 E/062) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2497/02


by Mogens Camre (UEN) to the Commission

(9 September 2002)

Subject: Press censorship in Sweden

In order for a European country to become a member of the European Union, the country concerned must
be democratic. The EU has always made clear that the Union stands for democracy and freedom, and the
preamble to the Treaty on European Union therefore confirms the Member States’ ‘attachment to the
principles of liberty, democracy and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of
law’.

Free, factual and objective press coverage is an extremely important condition for the protection and
preservation of democracy in any country and is confirmed by Article 10 of the European Convention on
Human Rights which states, inter alia: ‘Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall
include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by
public authority and regardless of frontiers’. The European Court of Human Rights added that: ‘freedom of
expression is applicable not only to information or ideas that are favourably received or regarded as
inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the state or
sections of the population. Without pluralism, tolerance and broadmindedness there is no democratic
society’.

General, regional and local elections are to be held in Sweden on 15 September 2002. It is already clear
that these elections will be a farce because the Swedish media have boycotted any parties voicing concern
at the rising number of immigrants from the Third World.

The media are ignoring parties critical of immigrants. They are being deliberately excluded from Swedish
TV’s election broadcasts and cannot place any election advertisements in the newspapers. Recently, it was
also revealed that Swedish Radio had instructed their journalists consistently to refer to parties critical of
immigrants as hostile to foreigners.

A condition of democracy is that all groups in a society are allowed their say provided they endeavour to
achieve their aims by peaceful means. Guaranteeing that right is also the task of government-funded public
service channels  in the case of Sweden, Swedish TV, which has prevented certain parties from voicing
their opinions in the election campaign from the very outset.

Such censorship in Sweden is contrary to everything that the Union claims it stands for, and is also
contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Will the Commission take steps to instruct Sweden to introduce a free press in order to fulfil its conditions
of membership of the European Union?

Answer given by Mr Vitorino on behalf of the Commission

(22 November 2002)

Article 6 (2) of the TEU provides that the Union will respect fundamental rights as guaranteed by European
Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, to which the Honourable
Member refers, and as they result from the constitutional traditions common to the Member States, as
general principles of Community law. Freedom of expression and the right to be informed are among
these general principles. Article 11 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, solemnly
proclaimed at Nice on 7 December 2000, also states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression
and the right to receive and impart information.

However, the Commission has no general powers in relation to the stand taken by the press in the
Member States. Within the limits of the Union’s powers, the Commission endeavours to promote political
and cultural pluralism in the media so as to maintain the high level of freedom in this respect. Naturally, it
cannot intervene or even comment on the editorial line taken by the media in one or other Member State.
It is for readers to make their own assessment. In any case, it is the Member States’ responsibility to ensure
that the relevant principles, such as pluralism in the media and freedom of expression, are duly respected.
14.8.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 192 E/65

Likewise, there are no grounds for determining the existence of a serious and persistent breach within the
meaning of Article 7 on the Treaty of the European Union.

The Commission accordingly feels that it has no power to take the measures referred to by the Honourable
Member.

If, however, the situation in question constituted a violation of a right or a freedom, the matter should be
brought before the Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, after all other means of redress have been
exhausted.

(2003/C 192 E/063) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2502/02


by Mihail Papayannakis (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(2 September 2002)

Subject: International Criminal Court

Following the USA’s refusal on 1 July to ratify the establishment of the International Criminal Court (ICC),
it has signed a bilateral agreement with Romania concerning exemption for Americans from the ICC.
Given that Romania is applying for membership of the EU, and in view of the USA’s clear intention to
sign bilateral agreements of the same nature with other applicant countries, could the Commission say
whether it intends, in addition to expressing its displeasure, to take additional measures with regard both
to the USA and the various pre-accession countries in order to prevent the institution of the International
Criminal Court being undermined from the very outset?

Answer given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission


(25 November 2002)

It is correct that since last summer, the United States has approached a number of countries, including
Member States and candidate countries, with a view to negotiating bilateral agreements on non-surrender
of nationals of the other party to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Commission attaches great importance to preserving the full integrity of the Rome Statute and has
taken part in the discussions aiming at a common European Union line on this issue. A common line was
adopted by the Council on 30 September 2002 by way of conclusions and guiding principles which
provide a common basis for Member States to respond constructively to the US without undermining the
integrity of the Rome Statute or the good functioning of the ICC. The Commission concluded in its 2002
Regular Report on Romania (1) that the bilateral Agreement with the US to which the Honourable Member
refers does not comply with these guiding principles.

Since then, the EU has sought to ensure the coherence of policies on the ICC taken by the Member States
and by candidate countries. In particular, the Presidency has been active in informing candidates and
associated countries about the Council conclusions and guiding Principles.

(1) COM(2002) 700 final.

(2003/C 192 E/064) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2551/02


by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(12 September 2002)

Subject: Growing problems arising from inequality of opportunity on the market for owner-occupied
properties in the border areas around the Netherlands due to differences in housing costs

1. Is the Commission aware that, within a short period of time, nearly all the plots in the new Pieper-
Werning 1 housing estate in Bad Bentheim (Lower Saxony, Germany) have been sold to purchasers from
the area around the towns of Enschede and Hengelo in the nearby Netherlands, rapidly increasing the