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ELO_Engels 68
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n 68
ELO - European Landowners’ Organization
June 2004
The annual congress of the Friends of the
Countryside is always a good time to
question our strategies. The ability of rural
businessmen and women to adjust to an everchanging world is still the key to their success.
Europe is moving ahead within an
increasingly diverse world. Agriculture, once
the cornerstone of rural Europe, is slowly
leaving behind a system of assisted
production and is instead now more
concerned with environmental constraints
and finding a place on open international
markets. At the same time forestry, once a
traditional countryside activity, is having to
cope with low sales prices.
How to be a European
on Europe's borders
7th Friends of the Countryside
Congress - Cork, 20/22 May 2004
Rural businesses and landowners will only be
able to adjust to change if they are
encouraged to diversify their activities. This is
the only way private concerns will survive
and, more broadly, the communities in which
they are situated.
The debate on the future of the countryside is
largely dominated by conservation issues.
This is a legitimate concern but should not be
the only one. Social and economic criteria
also require constant attention.
It is important to recognize that the
prosperity of the rural environment depends
on careful preservation of our cultural and
natural heritage. It is in the interests of
businessmen to protect and enhance the
value of their property - continuity is more
important than the next harvest.
The future depends on innovation, the
preservation of biodiversity and fostering
values. The Friends of the Countryside must
be part of these changes and even anticipate
them, if their projects are to succeed.
It is a matter of common sense for the
Commission and the member states to
recognize the need to create the conditions
for this success, to avoid cumbersome rules
and regulations and protect private property
and private enterprise.
Thierry de l'ESCAILLE
t is no easy task to summarize in a few lines a general
assembly and a congress covering a wide number
of subjects in great detail. And what words could
accurately describe such quintessentially Irish hospitality
and warmth to those of our friends who did not have the
opportunity of joining us?
The FCS organized its 2004 major annual meeting in Cork
in the south of the Emerald Isle, with the help of the Irish
Friends led by Nick BIELENBERG and Charles KEANE.
This was therefore the setting for the visit of senator John
DARDIS and of member of the European Convention
John BRUTON, also former Irish Prime Minister, who
explained to us the status of private property in the Irish
Constitution and in the European draft constitutional
These two contributions and the speech by Youssef DIB
on what BNP Paribas and FCS have in common were
especially stirring and started a lively debate with
the audience.
ELO_Engels 68
Pagina 2
How to be a European
on Europe's borders
The European Squirrel
Initiative: facts and
Property rights and
hunting rights - an
uncertain equation
in the countries of
the ex- Soviet block
Tax on savings
"Wetlands of Ireland
Distribution, Ecology,
Uses and Economic
Diary Dates
is a publication of ELO in
English, French, German,
Italian and Spanish.
Publisher :
Thierry de l’ESCAILLE
Chief editor :
ELO and FCS, another year
at the service of private
Thierry de l'ESCAILLE focused
his contribution on four major
topics which are constantly at the
heart of the work these two associations do in Europe: agriculture,
the environment, private property
and enlargement.
2003 was the year of the reform
of the Common Agricultural Policy
and of the draft European constitution; 2004 is the year of application
of the new agricultural measures
country by country, of the possible
adoption of the draft constitution
and of enlargement. The activity
report was thus to be seen against
this background.
The changes to the CAP are not
yet complete but the new concepts
drawn up in 2003 are being inserted into the implementing texts:
eco-conditionality and decoupling
are henceforth to be the lifeblood
of European agriculture. What will
this mean? It will in particular strip
agriculture of part of its 'Community' character; payments will
be based on historic references or
on regional averages, depending
on the choice made by national
levy is equal to 50% of the premiums subsequently due.
The notion of eco-conditionality
could, as the ELO and FCS pointed
out, lead to preserving land in a
good agricultural state without
necessarily producing anything.
Growing grass would get you a
premium. Question: does this still
deserve to be called farming?
Moreover the environment has
increased in significance in all
European policies. It is no longer a
single policy in the process of evolving, but now introduces ecological constraints at all levels (agriculture, transport, research, land
management etc). Clearly the ELO
and FCS endorse this desire to
preserve Europe's biodiversity and
a pleasant, healthy countryside but
it should be firmly established that
a countryside with no activity is a
dead countryside.
The new provisions in the CAP
are causing some landowners to
invent a new form of farming, and
to find new opportunities geared
towards the production of environmental services. This is living proof
that private enterprise is capable of
adapting to change.
Property Rights, a national
and European concern
Transfer of payment rights
without land is still possible but the
Commission, after repeated warnings from the ELO and FCS, has
adopted a system of levies which
renders this process unattractive;
for a mutually agreed transfer, the
The Friends Congress which
this year focused on property
rights had two VIP guests - the Irish
senator John DARDIS and the
member of the European convention John BRUTON. Senator DARDIS drew on the founding texts of
Rue de Trèves, 67
B - 1040 Bruxelles
Tel. : 00 32 (0)2 234 30 00
Fax : 00 32 (0)2 234 30 09
[email protected]
Internet Site :
5 Euros
ELO_Engels 68
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the Irish Republic and underlined
the importance of the notion of property in a country where the access
to land dates back to the 19th and
beginning of the 20th centuries.
Property rights are recognized and
sanctioned by law - for example
substantive law enforces the principles of compensation and protection in the event of expropriation
by the public authorities.
This too had been the philosophy inspiring the former Prime
Minister John BRUTON when drafting the European constitutional
treaty. He highlighted the protection
of property rights in article II-17 of
the draft which lists points from the
European Charter of Fundamental
Rights - to which ELO contributed
in 1999-2000.
John BRUTON also underlined
the codifying role of the draft constitution. The document lists those
legal principles where a consensus
among the member states is a foregone conclusion, since they are
already part of the culture of all of
the Union's states. He regretted the
current delays in adopting the text,
but said this may soon be overcome because the draft could be rechristened the 'Treaty of Union', or
any other title which avoids too
direct a reference to the idea of a
Broadening the debate, the speaker
welcomed the work done by the
Convention but underlined the
weakness of certain areas, in particular foreign policy; the Union
does not really have proper armed
forces except for the rather embryonic Eurocorps.
Europe may have a flag, an
anthem and an (almost) single currency but it still lacks charisma. In
his view this could come from a
man democratically elected by all
Europeans who would thus embody both the people and the territory.
The draft constitution is silent on
the matter but the increase in the
number of member states may
make a Commission of 25 Commissioners an unmanageable outfit.
Why not redefine the institutions
then, in order to make them more
pragmatic and legitimate?
Many speakers spoke eloquently and with passion about their
institutions and about European
modernization; they set an example
for many of the politicians from the
so-called 'big' countries, all too
often bogged down in their own
strategies to preserve national
As John DARDIS and John
BRUTON emphasized, the principles of proportionality and subsidiarity make Europe more united
while at the same time granting
every decision-making rung a degree of independence. The right
decisions should be taken in the
right place.
FCS and BNP Paribas - more
than a marriage of convenience, a
mutually beneficial bond
In March 2004 Youssef DIB organized a seminar in Geneva on taxation and the transfer of inheritance.
At the Cork Congress he went on to
speak of the foundations of the partnership between the 'private branch'
of BNP-Paribas bank and our organization - which would not have been
ELO_Engels 68
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40,000 euros per acre - a price which
bears no relation to the land's true
yield. However in spite of the high
prices, tax breaks on land purchased
with the proceeds of the sale of other
plots also make the Irish market one
of the most dynamic.
The programme also included a
lecture by Roger COOK, secretary
general of the European Squirrel
Initiative on the invasion of the grey
squirrel in Ireland and the UK from
the 19th century onwards, and more
recently in Italy. This non-native species has not been content with driving out the native red squirrel but
also attacks and seriously damages
“Lismore Castle”
able to attain the level of excellence it
currently enjoys without the considerable involvement of Youssef DIB and
François DEBIESSE. They were
appointed Honorary Friends during
the Cork Assembly in recognition of
their services.
This title was also awarded to Dr
Anders WALL who together with
FCS created the Anders Wall
Foundation prize for a dynamic rural
environment. The prize is awarded
every year by a panel made up of
the Foundation, FCS, the European
Since 2001 the partnership between BNP-Paribas and FCS has
been constructed around the principles of private property, private
enterprise and the preservation of our
rural environment. With over 45 billion
euros, the bank has the largest
amount of assets in the Euro zone.
This is due to its presence in all international markets and banking professions (business banks, private and
retail banks). From this strong base its
vocation is to propose to privileged
clients total access to the group's
know-how through single, personalized contacts. The services proposed
include highly confidential skill areas
such as charity investment advice.
In the long run the ongoing development of the BNP-Paribas/ FCS
partnership can make its own
contribution to a European policy
which respects socio-economic and
environmental balances in the countryside. The partnership promotes
quality investment in zones which
are often suffering from a dwindling
population and a decline in activity.
After all, without people Europe's
countryside cannot preserve its
natural and cultural heritage.
The Cork Congress - combining business and pleasure
The Congress could of course
not end without a Gaelic note. On
the evening of 22 May the Friends
met around a typically Irish dinner
before attending a demonstration of
dances by a local group.
Whoever would have believed it
now at all? Some of the friends were
won over to the idea that the best
way of getting to know a culture is
to practice it. And so a bold group
got up and tried out a few steps
from River Dance.
■ Ronan GIRARD
The richness of this rural heritage
is particularly evident in Ireland, and
visits to the sites prepared by the
secretariat and the Irish members
were an opportunity to discover it at
first hand. It would be difficult to list
here all the properties visited by the
Friends. From a thoroughbred stud
farm to a dairy farm, from whiskey
distilleries to historical monuments,
botanical gardens and country estates, Irish landowners have always
known how to put to their advantage the temperate, wet climate of
the south of the island.
These unique circumstances as
well as speculative pressure make
the land some of the most expensive
in Europe, sometimes as much as
François de RADIGUÈS
tel: +352 021 190 345
ELO_Engels 68
Pagina 5
The European Squirrel Initiative:
facts and developments
he European Squirrel Initiative originated in London in June 2002 at a meeting to discuss the
problem of grey squirrels. The meeting was attended by British foresters, conservationists and
landowners concerned by the damage to the environment and the potential exteinction of the
native Red Squirrel (Scurius vulgaris) caused by the American grey squirrel (S. carolinensis) in Britain.
The initial meeting spent much
time discussing possible solutions
and eventually came to the conclusion that there was only one way to
protect our woodland and its wildlife
- and that is the total removal of the
American grey squirrel. Control
methods developed over 50 years
and recommended by the UK authorities have failed to prevent the grey
squirrel spreading across almost all
of England and Wales and into
Scotland. Control on a local scale is
not feasible and is of limited utility. It
is not a solution.
We need to find a way of removing all grey squirrels which is both
effective and publicly acceptable.
The group quickly realised that
the grey squirrel problem is common
to three EU Members - the UK,
Ireland and Italy - and that therefore
a European solution is required to
deal with a European problem.
In consequence, the group has
assumed the name of European
Squirrel Initiative (ESI) and intends
that the organisation will become
truly European as soon as possible.
With the help of the European
Landowners' Organization (ELO) we
Agriculture of the EU Commission, in
Cork, in May 2004 within the frame
of the general assembly of the
Friends of the Countryside to reinforce the European awareness.
These meetings were important
milestones in ESI's development.
They enabled the organisation to
share its objectives with European
colleagues and to describe some of
the dangers of the spread of the grey
arranged a meeting in Brussels at
the end of March 2004. Speakers
described the threats to European
forests to a group of foresters, conservationists, landowners and officials. Mrs Louise HUXLEY and
Dr Michael CAREY in their presentation
showed the damaging consequences to forest and forest wildlife in the
UK and Ireland caused by allowing
the grey squirrel to establish itself.
Dr Sandro BERTOLINO then described how the same plague is spreading from the forests of northern
Italy, to threaten France, Switzerland, Austria and beyond.
A second meeting was organised
for European landowners and representatives of the Direction General
We need to raise the issue with
EU and national Authorities, forestry
and conservation bodies and the
media to ensure that the threat of the
grey squirrel., and the risk to
Europe's natural biodiversity is taken
seriously. ESI plans to build on the
contacts made in Brussels and Cork
both by exchanging information and
through the development of ESI
branches in Italy, Switzerland,
Germany and France.
■ Miles BARNE
Further information on
ELO_Engels 68
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Property rights and hunting rights - an uncertain
equation in the countries of the ex- Soviet block
lthough the relationship between property rights and hunting rights differs from that in the EU
of 15, for the countries of the ex-Soviet block it is no longer conceivable for hunting rights to be
a state monopoly now they are in the European Union.
However, some of the countries
which have joined the EU must now
cope with an ambivalent situation
regarding hunting rights as part of
the broader process of the return of
property rights confiscated by communism. The situation varies from
Poland - in which the return of property rights and especially hunting
rights has been halted and 83% of
woodland is now in the hands of the
state - to Lithuania, Slovenia and
Estonia, to name but a few examples where the process is almost
complete but excludes the return of
hunting rights to landowners. Even
worse, these rights are still state
property, and are leased to private
individuals, often former apparatchiki, without the agreement or compensation of the landowners.
As part of its twinning programme between the rural business
organizations in the old and new
countries of the European Union,
the ELO tackled this question within
a Franco-Estonian working party in
Paris on 21 April. It was also discussed in the European Working Party
on Hunting Rights created by the
ELO which met in Bucharest on 26
April in partnership with the International Hunting Council, the
National Office of Hunting and Wild
Fauna (France) and representatives
of the landowners of the countries
Officially, hunting rights have
been reinstated for Estonian landowners, but they are subject to particularly strict conditions. Even hunting small game in a personal capacity requires 20 hectares of land;
they are not allowed to hunt large
game (deer, elk, lynx, bear and wolf).
Hunting is allowed in areas of
minimum 5 thousand unbroken hectares. Big game hunting rights,
which still belong to the state, are
leased out to hunting associations
which organize hunts for a fee,
without any compensation for the
landowners on whose land these
hunts take place. Moreover, to hunt
on one's own land membership of
the local hunting association is
To obtain authorization to organize hunts on his own territory, the
Estonian private landlord must own
2/3 of a five thousand hectare area.
He will not even 'own' this right
because it is leased to him by the
state. In practice, in a country where
the average property covers 10 hectares, the matter does not even
This means the private landowner is stripped of any effective rights
to hunt on his own land. The state's
confiscation of hunting rights is a
left-over from the Soviet past.
However, it is necessary for Estonia
to move on in order to allow the landowners - who are often farmers
and foresters - to free up investment
capacity which is so cruelly lacking
in the countryside.
Although hunters represent only
1% of the country's total population, they participate actively in
maintaining the countryside, which
needs to preserve its socio-economic dynamism. Many of them have
professions linked to the land, and
hunting is a complementary activity
and a source of necessary income.
Hunting rights must not be considered in isolation but as one of the
ways of enhancing the value of the
The entry of Estonia into the EU
will allow it to evolve further towards
a liberal economy, especially as
withholding hunting rights could be
disputed under the European
Declaration of Human Rights, in
particular article 1 - 'human rights'
- and 11 - 'freedom of association'.
Likewise, article II-17 of the future European Constitution to which
the ELO contributed protects property rights. The adoption of the
constitutional text would send a
strong message to the authorities in
the member states about the importance and level of protection required for the right to own land and
accessory rights.
ELO_Engels 68
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Tax on savings
n 3 June 2003 the EU Council of Ministers approved the directive on taxation of income from
savings and the draft agreement negotiated by Switzerland and the EU, ratified on 21 January
2003. The ECOFIN council met on 9 and 10 March 2004 to take stock of the agreement and
the directive. This is the current state of these dossiers:
The agreement concerns the
adoption of the European 'tax
package', made up of two directives for tax on savings and the
payment of interest and charges
between companies on the one
hand, and a code of conduct for
business taxation on the other.
rest paid within the same state
is not covered. Likewise, interest paid to third states is not
covered. However, the interest
from non-EU sources is covered, provided a paying agent
located in a member state pays
them directly to a beneficiary
resident in another member
state. It is immaterial whether
the interest belongs to the private or commercial estate of the
beneficiary. On the other hand,
legal persons are excluded.
According to the draft, the other
entities without a legal personality 'taxed according to ordinary
law' are also excluded. This restriction to the scope of the
directive, leaving the way clear
for the creativity of all those
wanting to lodge their savings
within a structure (domicile
companies, trusts, foundations
etc), should however be treated
with caution.
As far as taxation on savings and
interest payments are concerned an essential point for our private
banking customers - the following
are covered by the directive:
Real interest: including interest
incurred or converted into capital and acquired by the beneficiary on reimbursement or
transfer of the financial instrument and - subject to certain
conditions - interest distributed
by capitalization UCITS. It also
covers income earned on transfer, reimbursement or re-purchase of shares in UCITS, if
these bodies have invested over
40% of their assets in loan
claims. Dividends and the products of investments, innovative financial products (futures)
and the products of life insurance contracts are however excluded. It also excludes all eurobond stocks issued before 1
March 2001.
Paid by a paying agent based in
the EU or a signatory country of
the agreement: the paying
agent is the economic agent
who pays or allocates interest
for the immediate profit of the
effective beneficiary. This basically means a legal or natural
person paying interest in the
context of his profession or
commercial activity (i.e. banks).
A natural person residing in
another EU member state: inte-
Dividends and investment income,
innovative financial products (futures), products of life insurance
contracts and eurobonds issued
before 1 March 2001 are excluded. Therefore interest paid under
the same conditions to legal (and
assimilated) persons is also clearly exempt, except to those considered by some countries to be
transparent entities (e.g. trusts,
This agreement, which concerns
the 15 member states of the EU
plus the 10 new member states and
the associated and dependent territories from 1 May 2004, allows the
coexistence of automatic exchange
of information between tax administrations and a withholding tax on
income from savings.
12 member states will set up an
automatic exchange of information.
3 member states (Austria,
Belgium and Luxemburg) will
not participate in the exchange
of information but will apply tax
at source on income from
savings. This rate will progressively increase from 15% (as from
1 January 2005 - instead of 1
January 2004 initially) to 20%
(on 1 January 2008) then 35%
on I January 2011.
Associated and dependent territories will require a case by
case analysis.
■ Youssef DIB
BNP Paribas
Summary of main points
of the agreement on taxation
of savings.
1. This is only a draft agreement
which has not yet been ratified
by all parties; theoretical date
of entry into force 1 January
2. This agreement covers either
the exchange of information
(involving 12+10 EU countries)
or taxation at source on
payment of interest only (3 EU
countries and some third
countries, from 15% in 2005,
then 20% in 2008 and 35%
in 2011.
3. Only natural persons resident
in the EU and the interest
paying agents located in
a signatory country of the
agreement are involved.
4. Swiss banking secrecy is
ELO_Engels 68
Pagina 8
"Wetlands of Ireland
Distribution, Ecology, Uses and Economic Value"
Edited by Marinus L. Otte
f there is one aspect of Ireland that everyone agrees upon, it's that it's wet! However, this mild wet
climate comes with its advantages and provides the island with the unique Irish landscape.
© Ciara
In fact, according to the water
poverty index, Ireland ranks as the
number eight water richest country
in the world, and it is therefore no
surprise that it is provided with an
abundance of wetlands to study and
enjoy. From marshes to turloughs,
floodplains to bogs, most Irish people live close to and, hopefully, are
familiar with at least one type of wetland, yet these unique and varied
ecosystems, with the exception of
peatlands, have remained somewhat under documented in the past.
This book, which is presented in an
academic style, brings together for
the first time a number of wetland
experts from a range of environmen-
tal units in Ireland, including botanists and zoologists from various
universities. Topics range from the
archaeology and ecology of Irish
wetlands to modern day developments and uses of constructed wetlands for the management of wastes. Although lacking in detail on the
threats and management of these
sites, Wetlands in Ireland does succeed in showing us the richness and
diversity of the Irish wetlands.
Cassinazza in Northern Italy and
Veta La Palma in Southern Spain.
Both are private estates whose activities are based on the potential in
wetlands. It shows once more that
wetlands count as part of Europe's
farmland, though their produce is
different to that of standard farms
and focuses on "third generation
products", also known as environmental services - clean water, clean
air, biodiversity, open spaces etc which are totally in line with the
objectives of the latest CAP reform.
ELO is currently working on
developing a network of similar private initiatives all over Europe.
■ Ronan GIRARD
This book review from the Irish
"Heritage Outlook" magazine may
remind Countryside readers of the
case studies ELO brought to the
attention of its network and the
Published by
University College Dublin
ISBN 1 900621 89 4
Diary Dates 2004
18, 19, 20 June
The Hague
General Assembly " European
Landowners' Organisation "
22 June
Seminar organised by SAFAgriculteurs de France on the
subject, "Choosing financial
products - how to dodge the
pitfalls" (9am June 22, 8 rue
d'Athènes, 75009 Paris)
1-2 July
Stuttgart, Germany
'1st conference on local authority
energy management' or how local
authorities can simultaneously
cope with budget cuts and the
need to reduce their impact on
the environment, particularly with
regard to climate change.
13-14 September
Leeds, UK
ERP Environment Conference "Business strategy and the
16-17 September
Series of ELO conferences
Italy - Bulgaria - Romania
twinning scheme.
27-28 September (update)
Series of ELO conferences
Twinning 'Ireland - Lithuania'
Meetings and working parties
focusing on developing
rural tourism
International AG
Brussels Office
Avenue Louise, 240
B - 1050 Brussels
Tel : +32.2.642 2727
Fax : +32.2.642 2720