Verbatim report of proceedings

SITTING OF THURSDAY, 25 SEPTEMBER 2003

Lloyd's Petitions

Peticiones relativas a Lloyd's

El Presidente. De conformidad con el orden del d’a, se procede al debate del informe (A5-0203/2003) del Sr. Perry , en nombre de la Comisi—n de Peticiones, sobre la petici—n admitida a tr‡mite sobre las peticiones relativas a Lloyd's (peticiones 1273/1997, 71/1999, 207/2000, 318/2000, 709/2000 y 127/2002)

Perry, Roy (PPE-DE), rapporteur . Š Mr President, in 1997, an English lady, who is so fearful that she still has to remain known as Madame X, submitted a petition to this Parliament. She simply questioned whether the British Government was properly regulating LloydÕs of London in accordance with EU Insurance Directive 73/239. The same question or allegation has subsequently been made in other petitions, some signed by hundreds of Names and several on behalf of thousands.

Since being appointed rapporteur I have come to know Madame X and she has told me her story. She recognised that by investing with LloydÕs and becoming a 'Name' - I should explain, for the non-English listeners, it means a passive external investor whose affairs were managed by Lloyd's as approved agents - she recognised that she was exposing herself to unlimited liability. But she told me that she only took on that risk because she believed LloydÕs was regulated in accordance with British and European rules.

Earlier this year Sir Nigel Sheinwald, the United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the EU, sent a strongly-worded letter to Mr Gemelli, Chairman of the Committee on Petitions, effectively seeking to block this ParliamentÕs right to get to the facts. I am pleased that our own legal services - who say Parliament must be very wary of attempts from representatives of other institutions to limit our powers - have confirmed that there is nothing in the rules to stop us having a parliamentary inquiry, so long as the terms of reference differ from any question before the courts in a Member State.

Commissioner Bolkestein will speak for himself, but what he has said to the Petitions Committee, and his actions, clearly indicate that he has concerns about the regulation of Lloyd's. He sent long questionnaires and received responses. Unfortunately, those letters and responses have never been made public or made available to the Petitions Committee or Parliament.

The key question that the petitioners pose is: do LloydÕs have the reserves to cover their liabilities, as Directive 73/239 requires? To answer that requires an audited statement of the reserves and an authoritative estimate of the liabilities. Perhaps the Commissioner can give us the figures - in particular with reference to the old liabilities at Lloyd's that they sought to separate in the scheme known as Equitas.

The petitioners are not questioning this Parliament about the present regime, which the Commissioner now thinks may be satisfactory. They have asked us about the period from 1978, when the Directive should have taken effect, to 2000, when they submitted their petitions Š or, in Madame X's case, 1997. Was the Directive being applied then? The Commission so far is seeking to remain silent about that period, a period when the assets of the petitioners were being seized and some were being made bankrupt, when policy-holders were at risk if the reserves were not there and when other insurance undertakings across Europe were having to comply with the Directive, a period when the English courts in various rulings said that LloydÕs did not have a system in place for making proper reserves. In 2000 Mr Justice Cresswell said: 'The catalogue of failings and incompetence in the 1980s by underwriters, managing agents, members' agents, and others is staggering (and brought disgrace on one of the CityÕs great markets)'.

I do not ask the Commissioner to take action against the British Government for any failings in that period. He has to bring a Member State into compliance. I simply ask for an authoritative answer - yes or no. Between 1978 and 2000 was the British Government correctly applying EU Insurance Directive 73/239? I respect the Commissioner, I know him to be an honest man. I hope that we will be able to get a straight answer.

There has been great pressure applied by the British Government, but this must not be a case where a big country is let off the hook. If the Commission can assure us and explain how the regulation respected the Directive, that is an answer we can give to the petitioners. However, if the Commission believes that, prior to the adoption of the Financial Services Act, the British Government was not in compliance, it must say so. We need to get to the truth of what happened and why thousands were ruined.

I hope the Commission will give formal answers. There should be no need to have a committee of inquiry. That is why I have tabled an amendment giving the Commission six weeks to give a full, authoritative and written answer to this House. However, failing that, Parliament must reserve its right to have the fullest inquiry into this lamentable case.

Bolkestein, Commission. President, I should like to thank Parliament for this new invitation to address it and to provide you with the latest report on the progress of the CommissionÕs investigations into this complex and very sensitive file.

As many Members of Parliament will know, this is in fact the fourth time that I personally have had the opportunity to discuss the case with Members of Parliament, and in particular with Members of the Petitions Committee. In addition to my own personal appearances before Parliament, we have also kept Parliament fully informed of developments by regular, written updates supplemented by oral presentations made by my staff at meetings of the Petitions Committee. Furthermore, I have also responded to an extensive postbag from Members on the subject. In this way the Commission has sought to keep Parliament fully informed to the greatest extent procedurally possible.

Given these extensive antecedents, I do not propose to go over the general background to this case. Rather, I would propose to focus on developments since I last spoke to this Parliament, which was at the Petitions Committee hearing on 22 January 2003.

By letter dated 24 March 2003, the Commission received a comprehensive reply from the UK authorities to the supplementary letter of formal notice sent by the Commission on 23 January 2003 which expressed some residual concerns about the new regulatory regime for Lloyd's established under the FSMA (Financial Services and Markets Act 2000). After analysis of this reply, and further written and oral clarifications provided by the UK authorities, the Commission services consider that the new arrangements are compatible with the requirements of Directive 73/239 (that is to say the First Non-life Assurance Directive, as amended) under investigation. These requirements related primarily to the verification of solvency, the auditing arrangements, the adequacy of the administrative and accounting procedures and the internal control mechanisms.

In order to respect the procedural rights of complainants, in the second half of July my services wrote to all complainants, as well as to petitioners who had not lodged a formal complaint, explaining the results of this preliminary analysis and indicating the intention of the services to propose that the Commission should close the case. My services are now completing their analysis of the responses received from complainants before preparing a proposal for a final decision on the case by the College of Commissioners. In accordance with Parliament's wish, we shall be seeking to take this decision as quickly as possible, before the end of October.

Most of the comments received related to the past situation, before the introduction of the FSMA 2000. As I have already explained to this Parliament and to complainants, the objective of infringement proceedings under Community law is to ensure or restore the compatibility of national law with Community law, not to rule on the past compatibility or incompatibility of the prior regime. That is a task - I say this in particular to Mr Perry - for national courts to address. From the beginning of our investigations into this complex and sensitive file, we have always and repeatedly made it clear to complainants that any action for damages must be undertaken before national courts. Indeed, I understand that, currently, such an action has been instigated by a group of complainants before UK courts.

Therefore, in accordance with the relevant case-law of the Court of Justice, the task of the Commission is to examine the compatibility of the new regime with the requirements of the insurance directives.

During our investigations, access to the file has been a hotly-debated subject. From my opening comments I trust Members will recognise that, throughout the conduct of its enquiries, the Commission has always sought to keep Parliament fully informed to the greatest extent possible.

As the report by the Petitions Committee recognises, the Commission is bound by point 1.5 of Annex III to the Framework Agreement between Parliament and the Commission. This provides that information on infringement procedures remains confidential until a final Commission decision is made.

Clearly, after a final decision, the Commission will make documents available, subject to any remaining confidentiality constraints.

Assuming a Commission decision (by the College of Commissioners) is taken to close the case, the Commission will, in response to a formal request from Parliament, provide file access in accordance with the Framework Agreement subject to the respect of any confidentiality requirements imposed by the UK on documents which it has prepared. Furthermore, general public access to the file will be granted in accordance with the terms of Regulation 1049/2001.

Lastly, I would like briefly to touch upon an issue which, in the light of the extensive contacts which we have enjoyed with Parliament, I would have hoped would not have been necessary. There are those who imply that, in the conduct of its enquiries, the Commission has exposed itself to accusations of maladministration and unnecessary delay. Let me be clear. Despite the complexity and sensitivity of the case and the considerable volume of correspondence received, the Commission has always sought to carry out its investigations as rapidly as possible, consistent with due process and thorough investigation, while subject to real constraints on resources. Petition 318/2000 runs to seven lever arch A4 files. The Commission has carefully examined complaints and entered into substantial and sustained communication with complainants. Two press releases were issued and sent to all complainants and petitioners.

Furthermore, as I have just said, in accordance with the procedural safeguards for complainants, the Commission services have written to all complainants informing them of the results of the Commission's preliminary analysis and seeking their comments. Finally, an allegation of Commission maladministration has recently been examined by Mr. Diamandouros, the European Ombudsman, and rejected by him. In particular, may I respectfully remind Parliament that Mr. Diamandouros specifically considered allegations of Commission maladministration regarding access to files and examination of the current regulatory regime, as opposed to the past, pre-FSMA 2000 regime. In both cases Mr Diamandouros found no maladministration.

I have spoken somewhat longer than I would have preferred but, given the importance of the case and the tragic histories that surround it, I wanted to be crystal clear in my statement to this Parliament.

In closing, let me again assure you, President, of the willingness of the Commission to cooperate fully with Parliament, but always subject to the legal constraints imposed on the Commission. As on previous occasions, I would be very happy to try and answer any further questions you might have.

Resoconto integrale delle sedute

SEDUTA DI GIOVEDI' 25 SETTEMBRE 2003

Petizioni "Lloyd's"

Gemelli (PPE-DE). Š Signor Presidente, desidero anch'io ringraziare il Commissario, al quale non ho nulla da chiedere.

Vorrei soltanto riportare il discorso un attimo indietro a quando, parlando delle petizioni e del gigantismo a cui ci porta la globalizzazione, ho fatto riferimento a un caso emblematico: il cittadino rispetto al gigante. Vi  una sproporzione enorme tra il cittadino e il gigante. A questo punto il Parlamento deve chiedersi che cosa pu˜ fare per tutelare i diritti dei cittadini.

Questo  un caso - che il collega Perry ha ben puntualizzato richiamando una fattispecie specifica - che riguarda tantissimi cittadini che sono andati in fallimento. Ci sono tantissimi processi in corso negli Stati Uniti, qualcuno anche in Europa, molti in Gran Bretagna. Come si pu˜ non chiedersi quale possa essere lo sviluppo e la soluzione di questo caso? Come si pu˜ non chiedere a questo Parlamento, come possiamo noi stessi non chiederci che cosa dobbiamo fare perchŽ questo caso possa essere risolto?

I Lloyds sono una grande istituzione, hanno una credibilitˆ mondiale inalterata, ma evidentemente in un momento particolare  successo qualcosa, c' stato un qualche errore, perchŽ altrimenti non ci sarebbe stato questo proliferare di casi segnalati dai cittadini. Allora si chiede l'istituzione di una commissione di indagine o ci si oppone ad essa, ma questo non  un problema che si deve risolvere nel chiuso delle aule di tribunale, anche perchŽ noi non vogliamo fare nessun processo, anche perchŽ noi non siamo abilitati a fare processi, anche perchŽ noi non vogliamo che ci siano controparti. Vogliamo soltanto rispondere ad una domanda dei cittadini, perchŽ questo  il nostro mandato: un mandato di rappresentanza, che dobbiamo svolgere interamente rappresentando sia i cittadini sia le istituzioni come i Lloyds, per cui io non intendo criminalizzare nessuno.

Voglio capire perchŽ, invece, esiste il caso. E questo, se la risposta della Commissione, quando arriverˆ, non sarˆ esauriente, me lo potrˆ consentire soltanto un'indagine che potremo svolgere con grande serenitˆ, per capire qual  stato il nodo, il buco, la maglia entro cui  passato questo grande errore che ha creato tanti danni.

Cashman (PSE). Š Mr President, it is very easy to react on emotion but this House should not react on emotion, it should react on facts. That is why I cannot support this report. I believe it to be highly selective and deeply flawed. It fails to give a balanced assessment. The quotes used in the report are highly selective and outside of the context, and therefore fail to give a fair summary of the legal situation.

There are errors of fact, for example relating to the Lloyd's accounting system. Closed accounts do not, as is suggested, come back to life. Rather, as with all insurance, claims are made against a policy after it has ended - again errors of fact. The report states that directives have not been implemented. This is an opinion. It has not been proven. Also, the report does not detail the substantial efforts made by Lloyd's to alleviate the Names' losses. But there were also problems within the committee. I repeatedly pointed out that the way Mr Perry was trying to set up a committee of inquiry was not the correct way, was against the Rules of Procedure and, indeed, the Treaties.

Sir Nigel Sheinwald did not seek to block an inquiry, but pointed out quite rightly, that any inquiry should be within the Rules of Procedure and indeed our Treaties. Let me quote the relevant section of his letter. He believes that 'they do not permit a committee of inquiry to be established where the alleged facts are being examined before a court and while the case is still subject to legal proceedings'. As we have heard from the Commissioner, there is now a case before the Appeal Court of the United Kingdom, and it is right that we should be very careful and considered before we set up a committee of inquiry. Again, Mr Perry has used comments and quotes from the Jaffrey case in the Court of Appeal selectively.

I could go on and on, but let me reassure Mr Perry. The PSE Group will vote in favour of his amendments. I believe his amendments actually tie up some of the problems that we have been dealing with. Indeed I am pleased that at my suggestion the Sessional Services have called for other changes and, in particular, the deletion of Mr Perry's insistence in paragraph 5 that his explanatory statement should be incorporated into the resolution.

These are just some concrete examples of changes that had to be made to a deeply flawed report. I will finish on this. If, in this Parliament, we raise expectations for citizens and petitioners that we cannot meet, we do so at our peril. Mr Perry's process throughout has been genuine and sincere, but I believe he is raising expectations that cannot be met. He is demanding documents that he knows cannot be given. I am the author of Regulation 1049/2001. He is making demands of the Commission for an inquiry which he knows the Commission cannot make.

Finally, the PSE Group will support this but, in all honesty I have to say to the House, with my hand on my heart, I cannot support this report and therefore I will not.

Wallis (ELDR). Š Mr President, along with many British Members of this House, I have received a large number of personal letters from constituents like the petitioners in this case. I welcome Mr Perry's dogged work on behalf of those petitioners, and confirm that my Group will support the report.

However, there is a wider issue at play here, which affects the good functioning of Community law. I was a rapporteur for the last two years on the reports on the implementation and monitoring of Community law. As a Parliament we then called on the Commission to improve its infringement procedures and its dealings with complainants, calling in particular for correspondence passing between the Commission and the Member States to be made available.

This is the area that any committee of inquiry should, and can, examine: the Commission's carrying out of its supervisory duty in implementing Community law. This need have nothing whatever to do with the current English High Court proceedings. It is about getting an answer for our citizens.

Any committee of inquiry must get to grips with this central question about the efficiency of infringement proceedings. It must be said that this history goes back a long way to 1997. With the greatest respect to the Commissioner - and I have the utmost respect for his work - to say that everything is in order now is not entirely satisfactory. If the Commission cannot carry out its role as Guardian of the Treaties, this is really very serious and the whole legal framework of the Union can accordingly be brought into disrepute and called into question. We have to provide answers for our citizens.

Lloyd's-verzoekschriften

Dhaene (Verts/ALE). Š Voorzitter, mijnheer de Commissaris, mijn fractie steunt het verslag van Roy Perry. In de EU-verdragen wordt erkend dat het nodig kan zijn een parlementair onderzoek uit te voeren naar de eigen Europese zaken. Het is daarbij niet de bedoeling het werk van de Commissie in verband met de controle op een correcte toepassingen van het EU-recht door de lidstaten in twijfel te trekken. Soms echter wil de Commissie de regeringen van sommige lidstaten niet op de tenen trappen.

Wat mij echter verontrust, is dat ik soms hetzelfde gevoel heb over ons eigen Parlement, bijvoorbeeld in verband met de Prestige. Waarom zouden wij afzien van ons recht om een niet correcte toepassing van het EU-recht door autoriteiten en regering van lidstaten aan de kaak te stellen?

Na lezing van het verslag over de Lloyd's-verzoekschriften heb ik de indruk dat er in de eerste plaats nog zaken instaan die om extra verduidelijking vragen. In de tweede komt het mij voor dat noch de regering van het Verenigd Koninkrijk, noch de Europese Commissie hier verder op wil ingaan, alhoewel u een opening hebt gemaakt. We zijn benieuwd. In de derde plaats voelen sommige collega's er blijkbaar meer voor hun eigen regeringen te beschermen dan zich verantwoordelijk op te stellen ten opzichte van de burgers en te tonen dat de wet voor iedereen gelijk is.

Collins (UEN). Š Mr President, I would like to thank most sincerely our rapporteur Mr Perry for his report on the Lloyd's Petitions which date back to 1997. The issues, arising from multi-billion-euro losses in the '80s and the '90s, many related to asbestos, can only be dealt with satisfactorily through the establishment of a committee of inquiry. This matter is not going to go away. A resolution is clearly overdue and the question of compensation cannot be side-stepped. At the heart of the issue is the failure to implement properly the 1973 First Non-life Assurance Directive and subsequent relevant directives.

Many investors were bankrupted, some committed suicide and we need to know why, who was at fault and why there was a delay in the implementation of European Union law. The petitioners and complainants invested in what they thought was a properly regulated market according to UK and EU law. Would they have invested if they had been aware of the undisclosed liabilities? We have to take seriously the claims that a proper audit into the firms was not carried out. If it had been carried out, then the extent of the potential losses might have been discovered. The huge losses and the needless human suffering might have been avoided.

The Lloyds petitioners are not only from the UK: they come from my country, Ireland, as well, and indeed also from Denmark and Germany, not to mention investors who brought cases before the courts in the United States. Still there is no resolution of the problem at European Union level, still the Commission sits on the fence and speaks about the complexity of the issue. Complex or not, the petitioners have a right to know why European Union rules for the regulation of Lloyds were not properly implemented. An in-depth inquiry is needed to answer all these questions; after all we are dealing with investors who, if catastrophe strikes, have to pay and pay to the point where they can lose their businesses and their homes.

Stockton (PPE-DE). Š Mr President, I would like to thank the Commissioner for his careful, accurate and detailed analysis of this case. While I am now reasonably content with the outcome of Mr Perry's report, I must, in the interests of balance, make some comments.

Mr Perry's explanatory statement does not give a fair and balanced account of the circumstances surrounding the underwriting losses of Lloyd's members in the 1980s. I would cite in particular its highly selective use of material and its failure to reflect the full findings of the UK Court of Appeal in the Jaffrey case, including its view that it was only with the benefit of hindsight that reserves established by syndicates for asbestos liabilities in the 1980s proved to be inadequate, given the unanticipated way in which those liabilities developed.

Of course I have tremendous sympathy for the Names who suffered these underwriting losses, among whom are a number of my friends, including the godparents of one of my own children. Yet, since I became involved in this case, I have been subjected to a torrent of abuse and vituperation, including anonymous abusive telephone calls to my home accusing me of being a paid agent of Lloyd's. Since 97% of the Lloyd's Names have accepted the renewal plan of 1996 and they have been able to reduce their liabilities by significant amounts, this issue has by and large been covered fully.

As stated in all the advertisements: you cannot guarantee that past profit is an indication of future gain.

The focus of Mr Perry's report and the real allegation of the petitioners is, as I understand it, that the UK Government failed to implement the terms of EU insurance law correctly in its supervision of Lloyd's. The UK Government denies this allegation. The real place to adjudicate, therefore, is in a court of law. That is exactly what is happening, as there is now such a case before the English High Court.

These are complex legal issues. Parliament should let the legal process run its course and allow the Court to reach a proper decision.

Meanwhile, I encourage the Commission to respond to those issues raised in this report and to reply as fully as possible. While we need answers as soon as is reasonable, I would caution against a rush to judgement.

In conclusion, I urge this House to support Mr Perry's amended report and, until the due process has been exhausted, go no further.

Κουκιάδης (PSE). Š Κύριε Πρόεδρε, ο κ. Perry έκανε μια εισήγηση και μας ¹αρουσίασε ορισμένα στοιχεία για την υ¹όθεση LloydÕs. Ο κ. Ε¹ίτρο¹ος μας έδωσε σήμερα μια σειρά α¹ό διαφωτιστικές εξηγήσεις ¹ου, ¹ράγματι, είναι ¹ολύτιμες. Και ο κ. Cashman αμφισβητεί τα στοιχεία του κ. Perry. Τι ¹ροκύ¹τει α¹Õ αυτό; Ότι το θέμα μας αυτή τη στιγμή δεν είναι η ουσία της υ¹όθεσης, ούτε είμαστε δικαστήριο. Το θέμα μας αυτή τη στιγμή είναι ένα μόνο: μετά α¹ό ¹έντε χρόνια αναφορών, θέλουμε να διατηρήσουμε την αξιο¹ιστία της ε¹ιτρο¹ής μας και συνε¹ώς το ¹ρόβλημά μας είναι εάν θα έχουμε μια οριστική α¹άντηση κατά ¹όσον εφαρμόστηκε η οδηγία ή όχι. Μόνο αυτό είναι το θέμα μας.

Και δράττομαι αυτής της ευκαιρίας για να γενικεύσω το θέμα, γιατί σήμερα είχαμε τις εκθέσεις του Διαμεσολαβητή και της Ε¹ιτρο¹ής Αναφορών. Το θέμα LloydÕs ήρθε στην Ε¹ιτρο¹ή Αναφορών με αναφορές ¹ολιτών. Ενε¹λάκη και ο Διαμεσολαβητής, ό¹ως εί¹ε και ο Ε¹ίτρο¹ος, στο θέμα κατά ¹όσον η Ε¹ιτρο¹ή έκανε καλά το έργο της. Και, φυσικά, είναι και θέμα εφαρμογής κοινοτικού δικαίου.

Τι ¹ροκύ¹τει α¹ό αυτό; Ότι τα δύο δίδυμα δικαιώματα, της καταγγελίας και της αναφοράς είναι αλληλένδετα. Δεν ¹ρέ¹ει λοι¹όν η συζήτηση να γίνει χωριστά. Δεύτερο, με αυτές τις δύο εκθέσεις, εμ¹λέκεται και το όλο θέμα της σωστής εφαρμογής του κοινοτικού δικαίου, δηλαδή κατά ¹όσο και αυτή η έκθεση θα ¹ρέ¹ει να συζητείται α¹ό κοινού σήμερα. Προτείνω λοι¹όν στο Κοινοβούλιο, την Ε¹ιτρο¹ή και τους συναδέλφους να δούμε το ενδεχόμενο να εξετάζονται αυτές οι εκθέσεις α¹ό κοινού, διότι ουσιαστικά είναι οι μόνες εκθέσεις ¹ου αφορούν άμεσα τον ευρω¹αίο ¹ολίτη. Εφόσον λοι¹όν όλοι ενδιαφερόμεθα να ενδυναμώσουμε τη συμμετοχή του ευρω¹αίου ¹ολίτη, θα έλεγα να δώσουμε μια έμφαση σÕ αυτή τη συζήτηση και θα έλεγα μάλιστα να κηρυχθεί η ημέρα της συζήτησης στο Κοινοβούλιο ως ημέρα του ευρω¹αίου ¹ολίτη. Έτσι, θα είμαστε αξιό¹ιστοι και θα ¹ούμε ότι ¹ράγματι ενδιαφερόμαστε για τα δικαιώματά του.

Τώρα, αυτό ¹ου ζητάμε εμείς είναι μετά α¹ό ¹έντε χρόνια, να έχουμε τουλάχιστον μια σαφή εικόνα για το τι συμβαίνει. Αυτό ¹ου ζητάμε λοι¹όν είναι σε σύντομο χρονικό διάστημα να α¹οκτήσουμε αυτή τη σαφή εικόνα διότι, ¹ράγματι, μ¹ορεί να έχει δίκιο ο κ. Cashman. Δεν ξέρουμε όμως αυτή τη στιγμή ¹οιος έχει δίκιο. Και η ολιγωρία της Ε¹ιτρο¹ής είναι υ¹αρκτή. Και έτσι, θα θέσω το γενικότερο θέμα. Η Ε¹ιτρο¹ή Αναφορών καθυστερεί ¹ολλές φορές τα τελικά της ¹ορίσματα διότι έχουμε μια χρονοβόρα διαδικασία α¹ό την ¹λευρά της Ε¹ιτρο¹ής στα θέματα των αναφορών. Δεν μ¹ορεί να συντομευτεί αυτό το χρονικό διάστημα ούτως ώστε και εμείς να είμαστε ¹ιο αξιό¹ιστοι α¹έναντι στους ευρω¹αίους ¹ολίτες ¹ου έρχονται και μας λένε ένα, ενάμισι χρόνο και δεν ¹ήραμε α¹άντηση; Να λοι¹όν ¹οια είναι τα γενικότερα θέματα ¹ου τίθενται στη σημερινή μας συζήτηση και νομίζω είναι μια χρυσή ευκαιρία να τα αξιο¹οιήσουμε για το συμφέρον, βεβαίως, της Ευρω¹αϊκής Ένωσης, αλλά και κυρίως να δώσουμε στους ευρω¹αίους ¹ολίτες να κατανοήσουν ότι είμαστε κοντά τους.

Μαρίνος (PPE-DE). Š Κύριε Πρόεδρε, θα ήθελα να υ¹οστηρίξω τα όσα ¹ροτείνει η έκθεση Perry, αφού ¹ροηγουμένως σημειώσω ότι ¹ράγματι έδωσε ¹ολλές νεότερες ¹ληροφορίες και διευκρινίσεις ο Ε¹ίτρο¹ος Bolkestein για το θέμα αυτό. Όμως, ¹αραμένει ¹ρόβλημα, το υ¹ογράμμισε με ¹ολύ σωστό και ε¹οικοδομητικό τρό¹ο ο συνάδελφος κ. Κουκιάδης, ότι δεν έχουμε σαφείς α¹αντήσεις ε¹ί του εξής: η βρετανική κυβέρνηση ¹ροφανώς μετέφερε ¹ολύ καθυστερημένα στο εθνικό δίκαιο την οδηγία ¹ου θα έ¹ρε¹ε να ισχύει και στη Μεγάλη Βρετανία για το θέμα της ιδιωτικής ασφάλισης ¹ου θα κάλυ¹τε και την ¹ερί¹τωση των Lloyd's. Ε¹ίσης αμφισβητείται αν τη μετέφερε σωστά. Ε¹ι¹ρόσθετα, ανακύ¹τουν ερωτήματα και αν την εφαρμόζει σωστά και αν διασφαλίζει με συνέ¹εια την τήρησή της.

Ένας μεγάλος αριθμός των N ames , ¹ου είναι ας ¹ούμε οι μέτοχοι ­ είναι ¹ολύ ιδιότυ¹ο το καθεστώς ­ α¹ό έλλειψη ή α¹οφυγή ενημέρωσής τους, αλλά και εξ αιτίας ¹αραλείψεων της βρετανικής κυβέρνησης τις ο¹οίες ¹ροανέφερα, υ¹οχρεώθηκαν σε καταβολή α¹οζημιώσεων με το σύνολο της ¹εριουσίας τους για ασφαλιστικούς κινδύνους ¹ου ισχυρίζονται ότι αγνοούσαν. Έτσι, ¹ολλοί εξ αυτών καταστράφηκαν ολοκληρωτικά, μιλάμε για τεράστιες ¹εριουσίες, και κά¹οιοι εξ αυτών οδηγήθηκαν α¹ό α¹ελ¹ισία στην αυτοκτονία. Ανάμεσα στα θύματα ¹εριλαμβάνονται και συμ¹ατριώτες μου, Έλληνες, οι δραματικές διαμαρτυρίες των ο¹οίων συσσωρεύονται εδώ και 2­3 χρόνια στο γραφείο μου και στην Ε¹ιτρο¹ή Αναφορών της ο¹οίας έχω ε¹ίσης την τιμή να είμαι μέλος.

Η ¹ροσ¹άθεια της Ε¹ιτρο¹ής Αναφορών να διαφωτιστεί με ¹ληρότητα α¹ό την Ε¹ιτρο¹ή για την τραγική αυτή υ¹όθεση, αλλά και α¹ό τη βρετανική κυβέρνηση ­ έχουμε κάνει και συνεδρίαση κεκλεισμένων των θυρών ­ δεν α¹οδίδει, τουλάχιστον για τη δική μας ενημέρωση. Δεν δίδονται ε¹αρκείς α¹αντήσεις στα ερωτήματα ¹ου έχουμε κατ' ε¹ανάληψη διατυ¹ώσει, και σ' αυτή τη σιω¹ή της η βρετανική κυβέρνηση, η ο¹οία αρνείται να γνωστο¹οιήσει στην Ε¹ιτρο¹ή Αναφορών τις α¹αντήσεις της, έχει συμ¹αραστάτη και την Ε¹ιτρο¹ή. Έτσι δεν μ¹ορούμε να σχηματίσουμε σαφή και ¹λήρη γνώση του ¹ώς ακριβώς έχει η ¹ερί¹λοκη αυτή υ¹όθεση και σε ¹όση έκταση υ¹άρχει ευθύνη εξ αμελείας ή και εκ δόλου της βρετανικής κυβέρνησης εξ αιτίας καθυστερημένης, ατελούς μεταφοράς και εσφαλμένης εφαρμογής των κοινοτικών οδηγιών ¹ερί ιδιωτικής ασφάλισης.

Οι ¹ροαναφερθείσες ε¹ισημάνσεις, ¹ου ενδέχεται να αδικούν τη βρετανική κυβέρνηση και την Ευρω¹αϊκή Ε¹ιτρο¹ή, δεν φαίνεται να συγκινούν μέχρι σήμερα ούτε τη μία ούτε την άλλη. Οι ευρω¹αίοι ¹ολίτες, κύριε Πρόεδρε, ¹ιστεύουν ότι θα έ¹ρε¹ε να ακούγεται η φωνή τους και είναι ευκαιρία να ανακτηθεί η αξιο¹ιστία και η εγκυρότητα της Ευρω¹αϊκής Ένωσης και του θεσμού μας έναντι των ¹ολιτών. Εάν κινούμεθα μέσα σε αδιαφάνεια και χωρίς να λαμβάνεται υ¹όψη η ¹λευρά των ¹ολιτών, τότε α¹οτυγχάνουμε ως ευρω¹αϊκός θεσμός και σε μια κρίσιμη καμ¹ή της όλης εξελίξεως.

Ke§ler (PSE) . Š Herr PrŠsident, Herr Kommissar, verehrte Kolleginnen und Kollegen! Ich danke allen drei Berichterstattern fŸr ihre gute Arbeit, aber besonders Frau Laura Gonz‡lez ēlvarez, die uns im Ausschuss doch sehr fehlt.

Die Rolle des Petitionsausschusses ist es herauszufinden, ob die nationalen und lokalen Behšrden EU-Richtlinien richtig umsetzen und anwenden. Wir mŸssen uns also dauernd mit nationalen Regierungen oder Ministerien auseinandersetzen, und manchmal leitet auch die EuropŠische Kommission ein Vertragsverletzungsverfahren ein. NatŸrlich ist das nicht vorteilhaft fŸr die betreffende Regierung, aber dafŸr sind wir da - und so verstehe ich meine Arbeit im Ausschuss -, nŠmlich um unsere BŸrger zu schŸtzen. Diese Lloyd's-Petitionen sind unangenehm, sowohl fŸr die ehemalige britische Regierung als auch fŸr die heutige, aber auch fŸr die EuropŠische Kommission, die schon 1978 zšgerte, Schritte gegen Gro§britannien zu unternehmen. Der Austausch zwischen der EU-Kommission und der britischen Regierung zum Thema Lloyd's war von vielen MerkwŸrdigkeiten umgeben.

Aber was ist nun der so genannte Lloyd's-Skandal? Lloyd's hatte Names rekrutiert, ohne diese Menschen darauf aufmerksam zu machen, dass sie fŸr gigantische Versicherungsverluste aufkommen mussten, vornehmlich durch Urteile aus den USA zu AsbestfŠllen. Das Lloyd's-Management hat dann diese Verluste auf die Names abgewŠlzt. Viele haben damit ihr Vermšgen verloren und manche ihre einzige Altersversorgung. Nicht nur Briten, auch Belgier und Deutsche. Einige haben sich sogar das Leben genommen. Nun kšnnte man kalt sagen: "Nun, ihr habt Pech gehabt!" Aber nein, diese Leute haben darauf vertraut, dass der Versicherungsmarkt reguliert ist und britisches und EU-Recht respektiert wŸrde.

Nun stand ich zwischen zwei hochgeschŠtzten britischen Kollegen, zwischen Roy Perry und Michael Cashman. Ich freue mich sehr, dass nun ein Kompromiss gefunden wurde, aber ich bedauere es auch sehr, dass dieser Bericht so viele politische Wogen geschlagen hat. Ich begrŸ§e also den Kompromiss und hoffe, dass wir damit den Petenten gerecht werden kšnnen und hoffentlich dazu beitragen, dass sich solche Tragšdien nicht wiederholen.

Bolkestein, Commission . President, I shall try to be brief in my reply to Members of Parliament and their questions.

Mrs Wallis has asked whether the Commission is really the Guardian of the Treaties in this case. I would like to reply to her and other Members that yes, we are, and that is the reason the Commission has sent two letters of formal notice. It has not sent those letters of formal notice for nothing, there were reasons for doing so. The UK Government has reacted and now, as I have said earlier, the legislation is brought into line with European law. It is the duty of the Commission to ensure that this happens.

At the centre of this debate is the question as to the role of the Commission. The role of the Commission, as I have said time and again, is to see that present legislation is in line with present European law. Let me give another example that also concerns the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom has instructed its customs authorities to impound quantities of alcohol and cigarettes in excess of what it thinks is reasonable for personal consumption. The Commission has judged that these actions are disproportionate to the purpose sought. Therefore the Commission has sent two letters of formal notice, the process of negotiation and discussion with the UK authorities has started, the UK authorities have brought their instructions into line with what the Commission thinks ought to be done. However, the people who have had their cars impounded have still not received any redress for the loss that they have suffered.

Mr Perry and Mrs Wallis might well say that the Commission should do something about it, see to it that those who have had their cars impounded get compensation for their loss. My reply to them would be the same as my reply in this case - that is not the job of the Commission. Therefore the matter of compensation for previous losses must be left to the national judicial authorities and, as has been remarked this morning, there is now a lawsuit which has been brought before the High Court in London.

Therefore, with all the sympathy I must have for people who have undergone these tragic occurrences, some of whom have taken their own lives, I cannot go further than the law allows me to do. Therefore it would not be true, as Mr Collins has said, that the Commission is sitting on the fence. The Commission is not sitting on the fence, but it cannot go beyond the bounds of what it is allowed to do.

That is what I would like to say. It is not a question of David versus Goliath, as Mr Gemelli said, it is a matter of what are the legal bounds of the Commission. The Ombudsman has dealt with the matter of transparency and I have nothing more to add, except to say that the matter of the inquiry is something I must leave up to Parliament. It is not for me to judge whether the circumstances are present for such a committee, nor whether the process hitherto has been correct. That I must leave in the hands of Parliament: I will respect its outcome.

Perry, Roy (PPE-DE). Š Mr President, in his speech Mr Cashman made various quite serious allegations. I concede that he has been consistent throughout in seeking to block this report by every means and at every turn. I would simply ask you to confirm that the action of the House in receiving this report is fully in accord with the Rules of Procedure and that it is acceptable.

As regards paragraph 5 concerning the accompanying explanatory statement, I am more than ready to make an oral amendment to my report that the explanatory statement, in accord with our usual practice, should not be included with the report. It is the report that is important, but I would welcome your confirmation on that point.