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3. 4.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 102/115

3. Will the Commission be treating the most recent events concerning Forges de Clabecq as a reason for
requiring the Kingdom of Belgium to suspend payment of all funds to that company?

Answer given by Mr Van Miert on behalf of the Commission

(2 October 1997)

1. On 19 December 1996, Forges de Clabecq went into bankruptcy. Therefore, when requested to recover the
aid paid to the company, the Belgian authorities registered with the bankruptcy authorities a claim corresponding
to the amount to be recovered.

2. The Commission has not yet received notification of the joint participation of the Walloon Region in the
acquisition of Forges de Clabecq. If such information is received, the Commission will assess it thoroughly in
order to ensure that no new aid is involved in any possible form. As for an eventual reduction in capacity, there is
no situation in which aid could be considered compatible with the steel aid code against a reduction in capacity
unless such aid aimed at facilitating the partial or total closure of a company.

3. The Commission has no reason to believe that the Belgian authorities will not comply with their
notification obligations. It will however take all appropriate measures to ensure that the Community rules are

(98/C 102/166) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2770/97

by Mark Watts (PSE) to the Commission
(1 September 1997)

Subject: Use of 6 metre headland strips

Could the Commission give advice on the possibilities for the use of 6 metre wide headland strips and field
margins as part of set aside?

It appears that the current regulations governing set aside require the minimum width to be 20 metres, which in
many cases means that this is not a viable scheme for many smaller farms.

Is there any possibility of the rules for set aside being changed to encompass the use of headland strips and field
margins, and if so, what is the likely timescale for such changes?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(15 September 1997)

The point of the compulsory set-aside scheme is to control production of cereals, oilseeds and protein crops.

As a general rule, the land set aside is supposed to be the least productive land. The minimum width of 20 metres
was chosen to avoid only field margins being used to fulfil the compulsory set-aside requirement, since they are
less productive by definition.

The Commission has no intention of changing the rules on this aspect, especially since the problems of small
farms referred to by the Honourable Member do not arise anyway: small producers are exempted from the
compulsory set-aside scheme.