Commission Question – Austrian complaint about British state aid support for nuclear power

Question to the Commission for written answer E-011526/2015

Rule 130

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Austrian complaint about British state aid support for nuclear power

Austria recently filed a complaint to the European Court of Justice that Britain had proposed GBP 17 billion in state funds to help build two new nuclear reactors, citing ‘illegitimate spending under EU rules’. What is the potential outcome if the ECJ rules in favour of Austria?

EN

E-011526/2015

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Ms Vestager (26.8.2015)

Austria challenged the Commission decision regarding support to the Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station adopted on 8 October 2014 by way of an annulment action to the General Court.

The Commission cannot speculate upon the outcome of the proceedings and on the General Court’s possible ruling on the pleas raised by Austria, although it believes that its decision was legal and the annulment action should therefore be rejected. Once a final judgement of the General Court is rendered, the Commission will analyse the judgment and act according to the findings of the court. Even in case of an annulment of the Commission’s decision, the course of further action would depend on the specific grounds for such an annulment as well as (insofar as recovery of the aid would be an issue) on whether the aid has or has not been granted by that time.

Commission Question – Taxation competences

Question to the Commission for written answer E-010269/2015

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Taxation competences

Could the Commission clarify which article(s) in the Treaties gives the Commission power to instruct the Member States on issues surrounding taxation? In light of the Commission’s release of a list of 30 territories considered to be ‘tax havens’ and its intention to crack down on tax avoidance, does the Commission have the competence to regulate tax across the EU and implement new taxation in any of the 28 Member States?

EN

E-010269/2015

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Mr Moscovici (19.8.2015)

Article 115 TFEU allows for EU action in taxation where they directly affect the establishment or functioning of Internal Market. The fight against tax evasion and avoidance is a clear example of an area which affects the Internal Market. The cross-border nature of these problems makes it very difficult for Member States to effectively tackle them alone. It is also important that Member States coordinate their tax systems, so that each can apply their own national tax policy without being undermined by another Member State’s approach.

Member States fully acknowledge the need for EU measures to help tackle tax evasion and tax avoidance. For example, the European Council in December 2014 asked for stronger EU transparency requirements for tax rulings, to which the Commission responded with a proposal in March 2015.

The pan-EU list published on 17 June 2015 responds to Member States’ calls in ECOFIN (in May 2013 and June 2015) for measures to ensure that third countries meet appropriate standards of tax good governance. It is part of the work to build a common external response to corporate tax avoidance, in order to protect the Single Market from profit shifting towards third countries. The pan-EU list is a consolidation of Member States’ own national lists, which they provided to the Commission. The publication of this information was discussed and agreed with Member States in the Platform for Tax Good Governance in 2014. 

Commission Question – Arash Derambarsh’s anti-food-waste campaign

Question to the Commission for written answer E-010268/2015

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Arash Derambarsh’s anti-food-waste campaign

A recent French law was introduced to allow discarded food from supermarkets to be given to those unable to afford to look after themselves. Have any discussions taken place regarding an EU-wide law and, if so, what stage have they reached?

EN

E-010268/2015

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Mr Andriukaitis (27.8.2015)

The Commission welcomes initiatives taken by Member States and stakeholders to fight against food waste and facilitate the redistribution of safe, edible food for human consumption.

The Commission is working actively with Member States and stakeholders to remove barriers – be they regulatory or operational – which might hinder food donation and to support effective exchange of good practices at EU level.  In this regard, the Commission would kindly refer the Honourable Member to its answers to questions E-010421/2014 and E-009571/20141 as well as to its dedicated food waste website2.

With respect to the legislative proposal introduced by the French government to prevent retailers from destroying unsold, edible food, the Commission refers the Honourable Member to its replies to E-009483/2015, E-009024/2015, E-009003/2015, E-008887/2015 and E-008448/20153.

1  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/parliamentary-questions.html

2  http://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/food_waste/index_en.htm

3  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/plenary/en/parliamentary-questions.html

Commission Question – Cross-border traffic offences

Question to the Commission for written answer P-007565/2015

Rule 130

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Cross-border traffic offences

I have recently been contacted by a constituent who, whilst driving in Germany, allegedly drove in excess of the speed limit and received a ticket through the post in England. My constituent wishes to contest this, but is unable to ascertain the legal situation in Germany or the potential consequences if convicted by a German court.

In light of the recent European Parliament vote in February 2015, such cases are likely to become more frequent. What safeguards are available to prevent those with a valid legal defence from being convicted because they cannot travel abroad to court and lack the appropriate local legal representation?

EN

P-007565/2015

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Ms Jourová (14.7.2015)

It is of utmost importance that Member States ensure a high level of road safety for their citizens, and recovering financial penalties for offences committed plays a role in this. Directive 2015/413 on facilitating cross-border exchange of information on road-safety-related traffic offences1 and the Framework Decision 2005/214/JHA on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties2 are designed to enable Member States to share information with each other to identify possible offenders and recover financial penalties in a cross-border context.

At the same time, the Charter of Fundamental Rights provides guarantees to every citizen to her/his rights to an effective remedy and to a fair trial. The above mentioned Framework decision also contains certain safeguards when applied, for example the execution of a decision on a financial penalty might be refused if the person concerned by that penalty did not have an opportunity to have his/her case tried by a court having jurisdiction in particular in criminal matters or did not appear personally or enjoys immunity under the law of the executing state. 

Detailed information about the different Member States’ court systems and available rights in judicial proceedings can be found at the European e-Justice portal3.

1  Directive 2015/413 of  the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 March 2015 on facilitating cross-border exchange of information on road-safety-related traffic offences  (OJ L 68, of 1.03.2015 p.9)

2  Council Framework Decision 2005/214/JHA of 24 February 2005 on the application of the principle of mutual recognition to financial penalties (OJ L 76, 22.3.2005, p. 16)

3  https://e-justice.europa.eu/

Commission Question – Erasmus Mundus and IT

Question to the Commission for written answer E-009119/2015

Rule 130

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Erasmus Mundus and IT

Does the EU provide training in computer science, information technology and/or related disciplines under the Erasmus Mundus scheme?

Is this training available to students from the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region? How many students from MENA countries have studied these disciplines since 2004?

EN

E-009119/2015

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Mr Navracsics (7.8.2015)

Under the programme Erasmus Mundus and Erasmus+ the EU has offered opportunities for students and doctoral candidates from all over the world to apply for scholarships for Joint Masters Degrees and for Joint Doctorates. Comprehensive information on programmes for students from third countries can be found on the Commission’s website1.

The Commission is sending directly to the Honourable Member and to Parliament’s Secretariat tables on training participation of students from the MENA region.

1 http://eacea.ec.europa.eu/erasmus_mundus/results_compendia/selected_projects_en.php

Commission Question – Leaving the European Convention on Human Rights

Question to the Commission for written answer E-009118/2015

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Leaving the European Convention on Human Rights

The British Prime Minister has not ruled out the possibility of Britain seceding from the European Convention on Human Rights. Under current EU law, is this compatible with continued British membership of the European Union?

EN

E-009118/2015

Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Ms Jourová (7.8.2015)

 The Commission is not aware that any Member State has expressed its intention to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights, and hopes that such a situation would remain purely hypothetical.

The Commission would also like to refer the Honourable Member to its joint reply to questions P-002853/11 and E-002857/11.

Commission Question – EU-wide corporation tax

Question for written answer E-009122/2015

to the Commission

Rule 130

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: EU-wide corporation tax

It has been reported that both Germany and France are keen on the harmonisation of corporation tax across the EU.

Given that Britain has the lowest rate of corporation tax in the G7, at 20 %, is the Commission aware of the significant difficulties that this would cause for the British economy?

Can the Commission please confirm its latest position and the status of any such proposals, whether formal or informal?

EN

E-009122/2015 Answer given on behalf of the Commission by Mr Moscovici (12.8.2015)

The Commission has no plans, formal or informal, to harmonise tax rates.

On June 17 2015, the Commission adopted a Communication on “A Fair and Efficient Corporate Tax System in the EU: 5 Key Areas for Action”1. The first area for action related to the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB), which offers a holistic solution to the problem of profit shifting in the EU. The CCCTB would eliminate the mismatches between tax systems which are exploited by aggressive tax planners and transfer pricing rules would no longer be used to shift profits. The CCCTB would deliver significant benefits to companies operating cross border in the EU, as they would only have to follow one set of tax rules, and would be able to offset profits made in one area with losses made in another. The Commission proposed a staged approach to the CCCTB. Member States should initially focus on elements relating to agreement at the OECD Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, before moving on to other elements of the tax base and finally to consolidation. The international elements of the CCCTB are currently under discussion in Council, and the Commission is working on a new proposal.

A key point to note is that the CCCTB is aimed at aligning the tax base, which is to say the rules governing the calculation of taxable profits. Even upon adoption of the final stage, the CCCTB would not harmonise the tax rate which would remain the responsibility of Member States.

1 http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/resources/documents/taxation/company_tax/fairer_corporate_taxation/com_2015_302_en.pdf

Question to the Commission – Protect and Provide Livelihoods in Lebanon project (PPLL)

Question to the Commission for written answer E-008838/2015

Subject: Protect and Provide Livelihoods in Lebanon project (PPLL)

Can the Commission please confirm the specific amount of funding provided to the Protect and Provide Livelihoods in Lebanon (PPLL) project? How can this project be justified at a time of austerity within the Member States?

E-008838/2015

Answer given by Mr Hahn on behalf of the Commission (12.8.2015)

Solidarity is one of the essential foundations of the European Union. The European Union is committed to helping the people in need suffering the consequences of the terrible war in Syria. Moreover, it is to be noted that it is also in the interest of the EU to ensure peace, stability and prosperity in our immediate neighbourhood.

Since 2013 the Commission has mobilised substantial funding for development actions supporting the livelihood, education and basic social services for Syrian refugees and strengthening the resilience of their host communities in Lebanon. In this context, the Commission has also provided a grant of EUR 895,568 for the implementation of the project referred to by the Honourable Member. This project is designed to mitigate the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on Lebanese host communities by assisting small and medium agricultural producers to adjust to the new reality and strengthen coping mechanisms. Unfortunately, the support given by the Commission and the Member States is hardly enough for the dire needs of the country. Lebanon is currently hosting almost 1.2 million Syrian refugees, amounting to a quarter of its population and the stability of the country is under severe strain. The country has the highest ratio in the world of refugee per inhabitants. This figure is in addition to an estimated 42,000 Palestinians from Syria, 250,000 Palestinians already in Lebanon and 16,000 Iraqi refugees. Other vulnerable groups include around 33,000 Lebanese returnees, and over 1 million vulnerable Lebanese living under the poverty threshold of 4 USD/day.

Commission Question: Subject: Armenian genocide and Turkey pre-accession funding As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, does the EU intend to raise the issue of Turkey’s laws which prohibit discussion of the Armenian genocide? Does the Commission feel it is appropriate to give pre-accession funding to a country which refuses to acknowledge war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide perpetrated against the Armenian people?

Question for written answer E-001159/2015

to the Commission

Rule 130

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Armenian genocide and Turkey pre-accession funding

As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide, does the EU intend to raise the issue of Turkey’s laws which prohibit discussion of the Armenian genocide? Does the Commission feel it is appropriate to give pre-accession funding to a country which refuses to acknowledge war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide perpetrated against the Armenian people?

EN

E-001159/2015

Answer given by Mr Hahn

on behalf of the Commission

(14.4.2015)

 

 

In its progress report on Turkey of October 2014, the Commission pointed out that the debate in Turkey on sensitive matters such as the Armenian issue has been open and lively. The progress report also stated that in April 2014, on the eve of the 99th anniversary of the events in 1915, the Prime Minister has issued the first ever message of condolences to the descendants of Armenians killed or deported. The message was published in nine languages including Western and Eastern Armenian. In May, the Prime Minister met the Armenian Deputy Patriarch. Initiatives to mark ‘Armenian Genocide Commemoration Day’ took place peacefully on 24 April 2014 in Istanbul and five other provinces. A ground-breaking conference on Muslim Armenians in Turkey was organised by the Hrant Dink Foundation in November at Bosphorus University.

 

The Commission believes that the EU needs to continue enhancing its engagement with Turkey to make sure that European standards remain the reference in Turkey. The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) II is aimed at helping the beneficiaries, including Turkey, to implement the reforms needed to fulfil the accession criteria. The Indicative Strategy Paper for Turkey earmarks EUR 4.45 billion of funding for the period 2014-2020, a significant part being devoted to fundamental rights, democracy and rule of law. This includes support to the freedom of expression.

 

Commission Question – Subject: Legality of leaving the euro In light of recent speculation that Greece may leave the euro, can the Commission please comment on the legality of a euro zone member state leaving the euro without also leaving the EU?

Question for written answer E-001163/2015

to the Commission

Rule 130

Jonathan Arnott (EFDD)

Subject: Legality of leaving the euro

In light of recent speculation that Greece may leave the euro, can the Commission please comment on the legality of a euro zone member state leaving the euro without also leaving the EU?

EN

E-001163/2015

Answer given by Mr Moscovici

on behalf of the Commission

(16.3.2015)

 

 

The irrevocability of membership in the euro area is an integral part of the Treaty framework and is expressed under Article 140(3) TFEU. On this basis, the adoption of the euro is an irreversible step and no change of currency in any of the euro-area countries is provided for. As the guardian of the EU Treaties, the Commission, fully respects this principle and protects the integrity of the euro area.