Parliamentary question by Maurizio Turco (NI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission
WRITTEN QUESTION E-1479/03
by Maurizio Turco (NI) to the Commission
(16 April 2003)
Subject: Exports of fresh and frozen beef from Member States to the Vatican City State and management of the meat counters in the Vatican shop
In an interview published in March 2001 in the trade journal "Eurocarni", Ruggero Guidoni, the head of Guidoncarni, which is based in Torrevecchia (Rome), stated that in 2000 "Unicarni of Reggio Emilia ... was awarded the contract to supply meat to the supermarket run by the Vatican Governorate, where around ten thousand consumers from that community, including purchasers for several religious houses, can buy goods on production of the appropriate pass. Ildo Cigarini, the chairman of Unicarni, asked us to manage the meat counters in the Vatican shop ... and we took up a 30% stake in the company Roma Carni 2000, which was set up for that purpose. CIR Surgelati also took up a stake. The estimated turnover was 15-20 billion per annum. It could be even higher. Unfortunately the crisis upset these forecasts."
In the period 1998/2000 the Vatican imported 22 529,27 quintals of meat from EU Member States and received the export refunds provided for. These exports came from Belgium (579,84 q), Ireland (2 226,01 q), Italy (8 044,47 q) and the Netherlands (11 678,94 q).
In the light of the above, could the Commission indicate:
- what instruments the European Union has, or in other words what measures Italy has adopted, to ensure that the Vatican does not - directly or indirectly - remarket in the European Union products for which export refunds are granted;
- whether the company that was awarded this meat management contract, or rather its constituent companies, export meat to the Vatican directly or through an intermediary;
- the names of the Belgian, Irish, Italian and Dutch companies that exported meat to the Vatican in the period 1998/2001?
Supplementary answer given by Mr Fischler
on behalf of the Commission
(7 October 2003)
- Reply common to the various questions:
Under Commission Regulation (EC) No 2390/1999(1) the Commission receives from the Member States in electronic form, on an annual basis, details of all individual payments made to recipients of payments from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (EAGGF) Guarantee Section. This information is loaded into the Clearance Audit Trail System (CATS) database for further use.
On arrival of the data the Commission makes a number of quality checks (correct codes used, reconciliation of total amounts with annual declarations, compliance with the Regulation, completeness of the data). Some of the data is also checked in greater depth in the context of specific audits or enquiries. This does not however mean that all data submitted by the Member States is the subject of an in?depth analysis. Firstly, not all schemes are the subject of an audit in all Member States. Secondly, the need for a data analysis depends on the nature of the audit.
CATS is a very large detailed database of EAGGF Guarantee payments, currently containing over 138 million records. Each record can contain 128 different fields relating to payments, recipients, applications, products and inspections. It is therefore impossible to check every individual value. This is standard procedure in the case of such databases.
The CATS database was set up to assist the Commission in carrying out audits of agricultural expenditure. While in general data quality is adequate for the purposes of clearance of accounts, care is currently needed over use of the data for other analytical purposes. As the Honourable Member has pointed out, some Member States have made errors in the unit of weight in which the quantities were expressed (kg or tonnes), but such errors can easily be detected.
- Reply specific to Written Question E-1477/03:
On butter exports to the Vatican City the Commission refers to its reply to Written Question E-2299/02(2).
- Reply specific to Written Question E-1478/03:
For the beef and veal sector the CATS data, based on the actual payments notified by the Member States, is not a useful tool for monitoring or forecasting refund?aided exports, whether by destination or by Member State of origin, for the following reason.
There can be considerable differences between the CATS statistics on refund payments and the Comext(3) statistics recording trade (with or without refund), owing to the considerable time lag that may occur between the request for an export licence (conferring refund entitlement), the export declaration, the physical export of the goods from Community customs territory and payment of the refund. This time lag may run to several months, even a year, depending on the management procedures of the customs and other authorities of the Member States involved. It can be even longer depending on the refund regime applied, i.e. pre?financing or direct export.
On the quantities of beef and veal exported from the Community to the Vatican City, the figures referred to by the Honourable Member do not indicate the flow of trade in the years quoted (1998 to 2001) but the refunds paid during these years according to the notifications made by the Member States.
According to the Comext data Community exports of fresh and frozen beef to the Vatican City were: 1 041.0 tonnes in 1998, 870.3 tonnes in 1999, 516.5 tonnes in 2000, 517.0 tonnes in 2001 and 566.2 tonnes in 2002 (quantities expressed as product weight). These figures indicate a trade flow more in line with the general trend on the market, with a clear impact from the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) crisis in 2000 and 2001 and a small recovery in consumption in 2002.
- Reply specific to Written Question E-1479/03:
On the quantities of beef and veal exported with a refund to the Vatican City in the years 1998 to 2001, the Commission refers the Honourable Member to its reply to Question E-1478/03.
As far as specific provisions covering products exported with a refund to the Vatican City are concerned, there is both the Customs Convention between Italy and the Vatican City and the Community legislation on export refunds, notably Commission Regulation (EC) No 800/1999 of 15 April 1999 laying down common detailed rules for the application of the system of export refunds on agricultural products(4)
For agricultural products exported from the Community to the Vatican City with a refund the Vatican authorities certify their release for consumption within the territory of the Vatican City or within the institutions and offices of the Holy See.
In response to the Honourable Member's other two questions on the export activity of certain companies, the Commission must point out that Article 2(3) of Regulation (EC) No 2390/1999 requires it to guarantee the confidentiality of the information received under that Regulation. It is therefore unable to provide the names of the persons who received the EAGGF Guarantee Section aid in question.
- Reply specific to Written Question E-1480/03:
There is no specific monitoring of the quantities of beet and cane sugar and chemically pure sucrose in solid form exported from Member States to the Vatican City. The quantities exported appear reasonable.
(1)Commission Regulation (EC) No 2390/1999 of 25 October 1999 laying down form and content of the accounting information to be submitted to the Commission for the purpose of the clearance of the EAGGF Guarantee Section accounts as well as for monitoring and forecasting purposes, OJ L 295, 16.11.1999. Regulation last modified by Commission Regulation (EC) No 1884/2002, OJ L 288, 25.10.2002.
(2) OJ C 110E, 8.5.2003.
(3) The Eurostat foreign trade database.
(4) OJ L 102, 17.4.1999, p. 11. Last amended by Regulation (EC) No 444/2003, OJ L 67, 12.3.2003.
Members and contributors 2013
|Giuseppe R. Roma||590 €|
|Salvatore P. Capistrello||200 €|
|Giancarlo B. Torino||30 €|
|Marco B. Merano||20 €|
|Davide B. Prato||50 €|
|Giuseppe P. Grottammare||50 €|
|Maurizio T. Roma||1.000 €|
|Rosa A. Firenze||590 €|
|Giuliano G. Sondrio||590 €|
|Sergio Pasquale R. Cremona||500 €|
|Total SUM||326.746 €|
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