Parliamentary question by Maurizio Turco (NI) and Monica Frassoni (Verts/ALE) to the Commission and answer given by Mr. Fischler on behalf the Commission

Parliamentary questions
by Maurizio Turco (NI) and Monica Frassoni (Verts/ALE) to the Commission
(04 June 2003)

Subject: Application of the milk quota system in the Italian Republic

- As a result of the application of the milk quota system in the Italian Republic, an additional levy of over EUR 1 000 m was due in the period 1995-2001;

- the Italian government has submitted draft reforms to the relevant parliamentary committees, including the possible cancellation of fines incurred by producers in that period and a new system for applying levies;

- reliable estimates put the amount of what is known as "black milk" at 20% of total production, with fraudulent practices continuing to occur, such as the non-registered import of milk from abroad and the re-use of powdered milk intended for use as feed;

- the L1 forms for the 2001/2002 season, submitted to the Agricultural Delivery Agency (AGEA) by milk buyers and signed by around 60 000 producers, show that:

- 5 953 farms claim to have produced milk whilst claiming not to have any cattle or failing to declare how many; total production attributable to these "producers" comes to over 1.6 m tonnes;

- 2 527 farms declare over 12 000 kg of production per head per annum, which is clearly incompatible with the animals' potential; this amounts to declared production per head of 284 744 kg per annum;

- 157 farms declare a fat content for delivered milk of less than 2.80 %, a level below which the product can no longer be called "milk";

- a very large number of buyers have bought milk from different producers with an identical fat content, and with the quantity of milk delivered being identical to the quantity corrected, suggesting that the chemical and microbiological analyses required under current legislation had not in fact taken place (or that the milk was not from these sources), with predictable consequences on the health and hygiene situation.

- any monitoring of these serious "anomalies" has been rendered slower and more difficult by the chaotic state of the national cattle registry, the principle means of monitoring commercial stock and cattle movements.

Can the Commission state whether it is aware of these serious anomalies, whether it intends to take steps to safeguard the Community budget and consumer health, and if so, what such steps would be?

Réponse donnée par M. Fischler
au nom de la Commission
(8 août 2003)

La Commission suit de près la situation concernant l'application du système des quotas laitiers en Italie où le problème principal reste celui de la collecte du prélèvement auprès des producteurs. La Commission est également au courant des anomalies présumées décrites par les honorables parlementaires et pour cette raison l'Office européen de lutte anti-fraude (OLAF), a ouvert en 2002 une enquête sur quelques affaires spécifiques d'irrégularités. A l’heure actuelle, les conclusions de l'OLAF ne sont pas encore connues vu que l'enquête n'est pas encore terminée.

Par ailleurs suite à la décision 2003/530/EC du Conseil du 16 juillet 2003 concernant l’approbation d’une aide du gouvernement italien, l’Italie devra verser au budget communautaire l’intégralité de la dette à recouvrer pour les périodes de prélèvement 1995/1996 à 2001/2002.