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C 76/110 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 11. 3.

98

Answer given by Sir Leon Brittan on behalf of the Commission


(4 September 1997)

The decision concerning the arms embargo against China was taken within the framework of European political
cooperation. Implementation falls in the first instance to Member States and to the General Affairs Council. The
information at the disposal of the Commission regarding the embargo is confidential, and its disclosure can only
be authorised by the Member States.

(98/C 76/214) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2428/97


by Claude Desama (PSE) to the Commission
(11 July 1997)

Subject: European subsidies for training people on minimum income benefit in Belgium

On 23 June the newspaper Le Soir published an article claiming that the TOK-EFD is amassing European
subsidies in the north of Belgium. It described enormous imbalances in the allocation of European subsidies for
training people on minimum income support, to the benefit of Flemish public social welfare centres. Despite the
fact that there are more people on minimum income benefit in Wallonia (48%, compared with 36.6% in Flanders
in 1997), over 80% of European subsidies go to Flemish public social welfare centres. This imbalance has
persisted since 1988, the date when the non-profit-making association TOK-EFD (Employment and Training for
the Disadvantaged) was set up.

The association was set up by Mrs Miet Smet, the Belgian Employment Minister. Former members of her office
got it under way and it remained exclusively Flemish until 1991. There are currently 57 people on the board of
directors: three institutional representatives (including the Ministry of Employment), three representatives of the
Brussels public social welfare centre, five from the Walloon public social welfare centre and 45 from the
Flemish.

Will the Commission investigate this flagrant imbalance and, if irregularities are established, will it take
measures to ensure a fair allocation of funding?

Answer given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission


(11 September 1997)

The Commission is aware of the concerns raised by the Honourable Member regarding possible unequal
distribution of the finances managed by ‘TOK-EFD’, the non governmental organization (NGO) promoter
managing the objective 3 operational programme of the European social fund, under the framework established
by the federal ministry of Labour and Employment.

In considering this matter, two particular points need to be borne in mind. First, Hainaut is an objective 1 region
and is not eligible for funding through the federal programme for objective 3. This has an impact on the
geographical distribution figures for objective 3. Second, no formal requests for funding from the public centres
for social aid (CPAS) of Wallonia were refused by TOK-EFD prior to 1996.

In the monitoring committee of December 1996, the Commission learned of a refusal and arranged a meeting
with the management of TOK-EFD. The subject was also added to the agenda of the next meeting of the
monitoring committee for the federal operational programme. At both meetings the Commission representative
expressed concern at the composition of the administrative council insofar as this might prejudice a balanced
section of projects. The federal ministry for Labour and Employment and the management of TOK-EFD have
undertaken to look at possible reforms to guarantee the equal treatment of all cases.

In the framework of the mid-term review of the Belgian federal operational programme, the monitoring
committee has requested that additional resources be made available as a matter of priority to redress the
geographical balance and avoid interrupting the good work being carried out by the Flemish CPAS.

The Commission will continue to monitor this problem.