Official Journal of the European Union

C 318/114

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the Proposal for a Council Regulation laying down special measures to encourage silkworm rearing

(Codifed version)

COM(2006) 4 final — 2006/0003 (CNS)

(2006/C 318/19)

On 8 February 2006, the Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 37 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the abovementioned proposal.

The Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 11 July 2006. The rapporteur was Ms Le Nouail.

At its 429th plenary session, held on 13 and 14 September 2006 (meeting of 13 September), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 168 votes to 7 with 17 abstentions.

1.   Introduction


The purpose of the Commission's proposal is to undertake a codification of Regulation (EEC) No. 845/72 laying down special measures to encourage rearing of silkworms (Bombyx mori (Linnaeus, 1758)) using the accelerated procedure provided for under the inter-institutional agreement of 20.12.1994.


Codification is used for rules that have been frequently amended over time and have therefore become unclear or difficult to understand.

2.   General comments


The Regulation cited above came into force over thirty years ago. It has been amended substantially several times and, as a result, it has become difficult for the intended users of this legislation to understand its content and scope without considerable legal research work to assess which parts of the text are currently applicable.


Consequently, the Committee supports the proposal on codification, which makes it easier for Europe's citizens to access the law and contributes to the goal of establishing better lawmaking, as called for and expressed in the Committee's earlier opinions (1).

3.   Specific comments


Consideration should also be given to the use of other simplification procedures, such as the repeal or updating of the legislation concerned.


Silkworm rearing began to develop in Southern Europe in the 13th century and reached a peak in the 19th century, before collapsing in the wake of an epidemic which struck the silk moth, Bombyx mori, whose caterpillar, or silkworm, produces a cocoon made up of a single strand of silk, used in the textile industry. Despite the reintroduction of healthy eggs (2), silkworm rearing never recovered. Not only do the silkworms themselves require a good deal of care, rearing also involves mulberry cultivation, since the worms feed exclusively on mulberry leaves and eat vast quantities, which need to be picked every day. Today, the industry depends almost exclusively on imports, mainly from China and Vietnam.


Given that silk has many different uses, requiring various different qualities, and that research may uncover many new applications for silk in the future, the Committee considers that the basis for a European silk worm rearing industry should be preserved, especially since it provides jobs in disadvantaged or outlying regions (3). The granting of aid for each box of silkworm eggs, as provided for in the Regulation, is vital to ensure the future of an activity that faces fierce competition from mass imports from countries outside the EU, where labour costs are extremely low. Furthermore, European silk is not only suitable for current applications, but may also have other applications in the future, thus warranting the preservation of EU production.

Brussels, 13 September 2006.

The President

of the European Economic and Social Committee

Anne-Marie SIGMUND

(1)  Including the EESC's 2005 exploratory opinion on Better Lawmaking (rapporteur: Daniel Retureau) INT/265 — OJ C 24 of 31.1.2006, p. 39.

(2)  Eggs of the silk moth, Bombyx mori.

(3)  Half of all Europe's production comes from the Canary Islands.