(2000/C 280 E/007) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2074/99

by Agnes Schierhuber (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(12 November 1999)

Subject: Market transparency in agriculture

In some respects the internal market does not function at all or functions poorly where the operating

resources and inputs needed in agriculture are concerned. This is due partly to the lack of market

transparency and partly to the absence or total inadequacy of European Community rules.

Commission research (Eudramat) shows that, as national certification procedures continue to exist,

identical drugs are sold at very different prices in the various Member States. A study based on this

research indicates a potential saving for health insurance funds, consumers and farmers in Austria of about EUR 1 billion a year. If this is extrapolated to the whole EU market, the present decentralised certification

system is costing Europeans up to EUR 35 billion a year. The situation is similar in the case of plant

protection products.

1. What measures to increase the transparency of the markets in seed, feedingstuffs and fertilisers are


2. What measures to bring about a functioning internal market in tractors and other agricultural

machinery, veterinary medicinal products and plant protection products are planned?

I would appreciate more than just a reference to the present rules.

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(25 January 2000)

Member States and the Commission share on a regular basis information on the net selling price of seeds

received by growers, on total quantities harvested, total trade for the marketing year, on stocks as well as

on the internal consumption forecasted. This information is assembled at Community level by the

Commission and submitted for discussion at the meetings of the management committee for seeds and

of the standing group on seeds of the advisory committee on agricultural product health and safety. Any

differences in prices of the same species are normally justified by the specific characteristics of the product

like varieties or origin, productivity, disease resistance and so on. Therefore the Commission remains

convinced that the existing rules ensure a good level of transparency of the market in seeds. On this issue,

there are no medium-term proposals planned.

In the field of animal feedingstuff, the Community acts on the basis of harmonised Community legislation,

which sets the rules for the placing on the market, for labelling of additives, for raw materials and for

compound feedingstuff.

The main objective is to guarantee the safety of use of feedingstuffs, and to inform stockbreeders on the

nature and the characteristics of food that they use to feed their animals. Following the dioxin crisis, the

Commission submitted to the Council and to the Parliament a working programme in order to improve

the tracing back of animal feed and in particular to enhance the safety of animal feedingstuffs by

improving control procedures. Moreover, the Commission, in conjunction with the consultative and

management committees concerned, carries out a permanent monitoring of the market of animal


Harmonised legislation for placing fertilisers on the market exists since 1976, when Council Directive

76/116/EEC of 18 December 1975 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to

fertilisers ( 1 ) came into effect. Meanwhile, the Directive was amended or adapted to technical progress

17 times and a report by the SLIM (Simplification of legislation for the single market) group in

October 1997, which evaluated the performance of the legislation with regard to its transparency and

effectiveness, concluded that the legislation operated rather well.

Indeed, more than 90 % of the cross-border trade of fertilisers in the Community is estimated to be by

Community fertiliser that falls under Directive 76/116/EEC, and more than 50 % of all fertilisers marketed

in the Community carry the label ‚EC-Fertilisers™.

Community fertiliser legislation is complemented by national legislation concerning authorisation for

placing on the national market, national or imported fertilisers that are non-Community fertilisers. They

concern types of fertilisers for which to date no harmonised regulation exist (for instance organic or

organo-mineral fertilisers). However, following a recommendation of the SLIM group, it is planned to

include these fertilisers into the harmonised regulation as soon as the current 18 directives have been

recast into a single new directive, which constitutes a further improvement of market transparency. Work

is in full progress and submission of the recast directives to Council and Parliament is planned for the year


The process of simplification as well as of adaptation to technical progress is conducted with full

consultation of all concerned, including industry, and thus ensures further that the high degree of

transparency already in place is being maintained. Since 1988, Community type approval for wheeled agricultural or a forestry tractor has been optional †

see Council Directive 74/150/EEC of 4 March 1974 ( 2 ). The Commission is working on a complete

overhaul of the type approval legislation for tractors to make Community type approval compulsory. This

would ensure the single market in this sector. The draft directive will be submitted in 2000 to Council and

to Parliament.

The Commission has recently granted a contract to independent management consultants to evaluate the

functioning of procedures to authorise medicinal products in the Community. This includes the procedures

to evaluate veterinary medicinal products. The consultants are expected to talk to representatives of all

Concerned. The report is expected to be ready by the end of 2000. Depending on the outcome of the

report the Commission will reconsider existing Community legislation and the authorisation procedures


Council Directive 91/414/EEC of 15 July 1991 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the

market ( 3 ), and in particular its Annex VI, provides a harmonised framework for the safety review of active

substances and for national authorisations of plant protection products. It has been implemented in

national law in all Member States. Working group discussions with Member States are under way to

provide guidance on remaining open questions, which concern, for example, parallel imports. Overall, in

the sector of plant protection products, a high degree of harmonisation and transparency has been


( 1 ) OJ L 24, 30.1.1976.

( 2 ) OJ L 84, 28.3.1974.

( 3 ) OJ L 230, 19.8.1991.

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