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11. 3.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 76/61

Answer given by Mrs Wulf-Mathies on behalf of the Commission

(16 July 1997)

The Commission agrees that the incidence of irregularities in the management of the structural funds in the
Member States is too high. However, all errors discovered are corrected. Moreover, in the great majority of cases,
as the Commission has made clear in its replies to the Court of auditors’ reports, the advance payments made by
the Commission to the Member States are nevertheless correct and do not need to be adjusted. This is because the
Member States’ payment requests are usually for a sum large enough, even after deduction of any ineligible
expenditure because of irregularities, to trigger the advance payment made. If, after deduction of known
ineligible expenditure, the net amount does not allow payment of the advance requested, the Member State is
invited to present a new claim based on eligible expenditure. The question of recovery does not therefore
immediately arise. But if, at the closure of the programmes, the Community contributions are higher than the
amounts justified by the final expenditure figures declared by the Member State, the Commission makes the
necessary recoveries.

One of the important objectives of stage III of the SEM 2000 initiative is to address the problem of errors and
irregularities in structural fund management. In this context the Commission adopted on 23 April 1997
decisions (1) clarifying the rules on eligibility of expenditure. It also intends to adopt in the near future a
regulation specifying minimum standards for financial control of structural funds operations by the Member
States, together with internal guidelines on the circumstances in which, in case of irregularity, it would be
appropriate for the Commission to reduce its contribution under the funds to a given programme.

(1) OJ L 146, 5.6.1997.

(98/C 76/144) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1866/97

by Johannes Swoboda (PSE) to the Council
(30 May 1997)

Subject: Planned meeting schedule for the discussion on the ban of landmines

What meetings will take place between May and December 1997 to determine the Council’s position on the ban
of landmines as the issue is discussed in the Campaign for Disarmament and the Ottawa Process?

(25 September 1997)

As the Honourable Member will be aware, the framework for the Council’s position on anti-personnel landmines
(APL) is determined by the joint action on APL which it adopted on 1 October 1996. At the heart of this joint
action is the expression of the European Union’s commitment to the goal of the total elimination of APL and to
working actively towards the achievement at the earliest possible date of an effective international agreement to
ban these weapons worldwide.

Since adoption of the joint action, the EU has actively pursued its implementation. At the International
Conference in Brussels on achieving a complete ban on anti-personnel landmines, held from 24 to 27 June 1997
which was attended by a European Parliament delegation, the Council Presidency gave a presentation of the EU’s
follow-up to the joint action. At Working Group level, the issue of APL is handled by the CFSP Working Group
on Global Disarmament and Arms Control, which covers all disarmament issues dealt with in multilateral fora.
The Working Group generally meets at least four times per Presidency. Since May 1997, it has discussed APL at
three meetings, in mid-May, early June and in July. Other meetings are scheduled for September and November.
Additional meetings will be scheduled as the need arises, either in Brussels or in the margins of sessions of
international disarmament fora.