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15.10.

1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 297/115

The German Presidency of the Council also gives animal welfare a high priority, and aims to achieve Council
adoption of the proposal on the protection of laying hens kept in various systems of rearing (1), and Council
discussion of the proposal on the protection of pigs passing through staging points (2).

The Commission is preparing a proposal on the stunning and killing of animals (Council Directive 93/119/EC)
based on the reports of the scientific veterinary committee. It is also preparing a proposal on the
harmonisation of checks and related reports (Council Directive 98/58/EC). These proposals are expected to
be ready for discussion during the Finnish Presidency of the Council.

The Commission has also started to make checks on the application of Community animal welfare legislation.
The results will be discussed in line with Council Directive 98/58/EC as soon as resources permit.

The Commission is about to start preparing the proposal for new standards for the welfare of pigs (Council
Directive 91/630/EEC) which should be ready towards the end of the year.

(1) COM(98) 135 final.


(2) COM(98) 478 final.

(1999/C 297/156) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3918/98


by Graham Mather (PPE) to the Commission

(4 January 1999)

Subject: Ecofin Council meeting of 1 December 1998

At this meeting the original intention was that Ministers would discuss the work of the VAT Committee and
the Committee on Excise Duties. They were unable to do so for lack of time. They did, however, discuss the
work of the Code of Conduct Group on business taxation.

Can the Commission please provide details of all formal and informal groups and committees currently active
in the field of taxation and taxation policy at EU level and indicate the remit of these groups and their
composition?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(24 February 1999)

The following committees and working groups are currently operating in the taxation field under the auspices
of the Commission:

6 the Value Added Tax Committee, which is composed of representatives of the administrations concerned
and is chaired by a Commission official, gives its opinion, in an advisory capacity, on all questions of
interpretation of the Sixth VAT Directive;

6 the Excise Committee, which is composed of representatives of the administrations concerned and is
chaired by a Commission official, has to decide on questions of application and interpretation of the
Directives on excise duties (under the regulatory committee procedure);

6 the Standing Committee on Administrative Cooperation (SCAC), which is composed of representatives of


the administrations concerned and is chaired by a Commission official, is the forum for discussing
administrative cooperation. It deals with questions concerning the application of Council Regulation
(EEC) 218/92 of 27 January 1992 on administrative cooperation in the field of indirect taxation (1) and
Council Directive 77/799/EEC of 19 December 1977 concerning mutual assistance by the competent
authorities of the Member States in the field of direct taxation (2). It also acts as the management
committee for the Fiscalis programme under Parliament and Council Decision No 888/98/EC of 30 March
1998 establishing a programme of Community action to ameliorate the indirect taxation systems of the
internal market (Fiscalis programme) (3). SCAC has three specialised subcommittees: SCAF (Anti-Fraud
Subcommittee), SCAT (Training Subcommittee) and SCIT (Information Technology Subcommittee);
C 297/116 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 15.10.1999

6 the Taxation Policy Group, which is composed of the Finance Ministers’ personal representatives and is
chaired by the Member of the Commission with special responsibility for taxation, was set up to provide a
forum for the informal discussion of current taxation policy issues in the context of the Community
objectives of reducing distortions of competition in the single market, preventing significant erosion of
Member States’ tax revenues and promoting job creation. A subgroup composed of representatives of the
tax administrations has been instructed to look into the tax arrangements applicable to supplementary
pension schemes and life assurance policies;

6 meetings of the heads of customs and tax administrations and meetings of the deputy heads of indirect
taxation departments, during which all major issues within their areas of responsibility are discussed;

6 Working Party No 1, composed of representatives of the administrations concerned and chaired by a


Commission official, is an advisory body which assists the Commission in preparing legislative measures
in the VAT field.

In addition to the committees and working parties operating under the auspices of the Commission, there are
specialised working groups meeting within the Council:

6 the Code of Conduct Group for Business Taxation, composed of high-level national representatives, is
responsible for monitoring implementation of the agreement reached in December 1997 between the
Member States on the introduction of a code of conduct to eliminate harmful competition in the field of
business taxation;

6 the Working Party on Financial Questions, composed of representatives of the Member States’ tax
administrations and of the Commission, is the Council body responsible for discussing all Commission
proposals in the taxation field.

(1) OJ L 24, 1.2.1992.


(2) OJ L 336, 27.12.1977.
(3) OJ L 126, 28.4.1998.

(1999/C 297/157) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3919/98

by Joaquín Sisó Cruellas (PPE) to the Commission

(4 January 1999)

Subject: Rules on the manufacture and marketing of objects containing precious metals

On 31 July 1998 the Spanish Association of Jewellers, Silversmiths and Watchmakers submitted a formal
complaint to the Commission concerning obstacles to the free movement of Spanish goods in this sector in the
intra-Community area. The above association takes the view that the diverse legislation in the Member States
governing the manufacture and marketing of objects containing precious metals and the lack of a Community
directive on the subject are giving rise to a situation where some Member States (particularly Portugal, the
United Kingdom, France, the Netherlands and Ireland) are hindering and preventing the marketing of Spanish
products in the countries concerned, even though the checks made are identical or equivalent to those carried
out in Spain. The consequence is a duplication of checks, verification of purity and stamping fees for the same
product, since these procedures must be carried out both in the state of origin and in the state of destination,
with the result that commercial transactions are delayed and on some occasions cancelled.

The Commission:

1. Can it say whether it has launched any investigations to confirm or refute the distortions of competition
reported by the Spanish Association of Jewellers, Silversmiths and Watchmakers, through which some
Member States are alleged to be obstructing the free movement of Spanish goods? If so, what were the
results?

2. Has it considered the possibility of bringing in legislation on the manufacture and marketing of objects
containing precious metals?