WRITTEN QUESTION No. 1017/97 by Amedeo AMADEO to the Commission. Asbestos in the offices of the Community institutions

Official Journal C 367 , 04/12/1997 P. 0055

WRITTEN QUESTION E-1017/97 by Amedeo Amadeo (NI) to the Commission (19 March 1997)

Subject: Asbestos in the offices of the Community institutions

The use of asbestos in the construction of office buildings used by the European institutions has generated a great deal of controversy. Following closure of the Berlaymont building the special analyses commissioned by the parents' association, justifiably sceptical of the assurances given by the Brussels buildings directorate which refused to admit the presence of asbestos at the Uccles school, proved the presence of asbestos and showed that its use had not yet been halted. Although not so widely used asbestos is still produced and is present in the construction of the new buildings in Brussels: 13 out of 20 samples taken at the EAS were positive as were 16 out of 19 at the REM, 1 out of 8 at the RMA, 2 out of 11 at the MAE, 1 out of 17 at the MON and 7 out of 20 at the LEO.

What does the Commission intend to do to ensure that the directives on the control of asbestos in buildings are complied with?

How does it intend to protect the health of the public and of those who work and live in premises in which the presence of asbestos has been confirmed by exhaustive analyses?

Joint answer to Written Questions E-0892/97 and E-1017/97 given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission (25 April 1997)

On 19 September 1983 the Council, on a proposal from the Commission, adopted Directive 83/477/EEC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work (second individual Directive within the meaning of Article 8 of Directive 80/1107/EEC) ((OJ L 263, 24.9.1983. )). This Directive was amended, also on the Commission's initiative, by Council Directive 91/382/EEC of 25 June 1991 ((OJ L 206, 29.7.1991. )).

These two Directives, which contain prohibitions and value limits to be applied to asbestos in buildings, have been transposed into the legislation of the Member States.

Belgium has introduced equal or stricter standards than those provided for in the above Directives into its general regulation on protection at work. In addition to these provisions, a Belgian ministerial order requires every employer in Belgium to prepare a table showing the asbestos levels in his premises.

In its buildings in Brussels, the Commission not only complies with the two directives mentioned above but also with Belgian legislation where it is stricter.