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2. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 304/121

2. Is the Commission aware that, in breach of its agreements with the FMM, the CAM informed the mayors of
the (23) municipalities concerned, when their budgets for 1998 had practically been completed on the basis
of those agreements, that almost 46% of the monies they were expecting to receive (ESP 4 700 million) for
the period 1997-1999 would be allocated under the heading of the European Social Fund – without any
contingency planning – with serious consequences for the areas affected and the investment projects in them
(2 000 million less than planned)? If so, does it consider the regional government to have acted properly?
3. Does the Commission think that the difficult situation created by the CAM could be put right by means of the
proposals made on 2 February 1998 by the European Affairs Committee of the FMM?
4. Does the Commission consider that the scheme established in the CAM for distributing funds received under
Objective 2 between regional and local administrations, by which the municipal councils manage about 15%
of the funds available, strikes a minimal balance, bearing in mind that their financial situation is precarious?
5. Does the Commission see any foundation for the verdict reached by various sectors, that the CAM's
management of the Structural and Cohesion Funds is lacking in transparency?

Answer given by Mrs Wulf-Mathies on behalf of the Commission
(23 March 1998)

In view of the difficulties in committing funds within the time limit set by the various authorities involved in the
operational programmes for Spanish Objective 2 regions for 1994-96, the Commission has proposed carrying
over funds not used by Spain to the following period rather than extending that period. The latter option would
have resulted in overlapping between the various programmes since, as the programme stipulates, the funds
would be allocated strictly to the measures programmed, implementation of which has fallen behind schedule. As
a result, the recipients under such measures have more time to implement them than had the period simply been
extended and they cannot be claimed to suffer in any way. This concerns most Objective 2 programmes and not
only the one for Madrid.

This nominal carryover of funds slightly increases the percentage of the operational programme for Madrid
accounted for by the European Social Fund (ESF) in 1997-99 as compared with the previous period. As part of
cooperation for and joint monitoring of the programme by national and Community authorities, regular checks
are conducted on the use made of grants per fund and per measure, which means the necessary steps
(amendments and reprogramming) can be taken in accordance with normal practice in administering funds. At all
events, no transfer has ever been made to date from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to the
ESF for Objective 2 programmes for Madrid.

Neither the Community Support Framework drawn up by the Commission nor the Spanish authorities specify
any percentage of the funds that is to be administered by the local authorities. Nevertheless, the breakdown
applied to the programme is not very different from practice followed for other Objective 2 or even Objective 1
programmes.

The Commission cannot unfortunately state a position on the other points raised, which are issues of domestic
concern for Spain.

(98/C 304/182) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0513/98
by Jan Sonneveld (PPE) to the Commission
(19 February 1998)

Subject: European criticism of the way in which swine fever is being tackled in the Netherlands

In the Netherlands Second Chamber, the Netherlands Minister of Agriculture said that the Commission was not
treating the Netherlands properly or fairly in its assessment of the way in which the recent outbreak of swine
fever was being tackled.

Can the Commission indicate in detail its assessment of the way in which the Netherlands Government is
tackling swine fever and the basis for that assessment?

Is it true that the Commission is trying to link financial implications to its criticism? If so, what are those
implications and on what are they based?
C 304/122 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 2. 10. 98

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission
(16 March 1998)

As with the other Member States, the Commission carefully checked the expenditure on eradicating swine fever
in the Netherlands which the Community had been requested to fund.

These checks formed the subject of an inspection report that was subsequently communicated to the Netherlands.
The Dutch authorities have had several opportunities to comment on this report, both orally and in writing.

The Commission is well aware of the seriousness of the situation affecting pig farming in the region hit by the
epidemic. However, on-the-spot checks revealed irregularities in the application of Council Directive
80/217/EEC of 22 January 1980 introducing Community measures for the control of classical swine fever (1).

The Commission will take these irregularities into account when it decides on the amount of financial aid to be
awarded on the basis of the final account.

(1) OJ L 47, 21.2.1980.

(98/C 304/183) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0515/98
by Paul Rübig (PPE) to the Council
(27 February 1998)

Subject: Right of information under the group exemption regulation

There is still room for improvement in the legal position of the recipients of EU aid and that of interested third
parties. At present the recipient of aid has no way of requiring notification by the awarding agency. He therefore
remains exposed to the danger of having to repay the aid. Nor, as a rule, can third parties affected by aid that
distorts competition obtain information on legal acts of allocation directly in the Member States: they are forced
to resort to the lengthy process of putting questions to the Commission.

The proposal for a group exemption regulation in the case of horizontal state aid (COM(97)0396) now
gratifyingly provides for a right on information for recipients of aid and interested third parties. The proposal will
both greatly reduce the administrative effort involved in the aid procedure and ensure a transparent system of
legal protection.

According to reports, the appropriate Council working party has departed from the proposed right of
information. This means that legal protection for the sectors of the economy concerned will not only not remain
at the same level but will in effect deteriorate.

How does the Council now view the current state of the debate on this subject? In the Council’s opinion, can such
an approach really satisfy the legal protection requirements in a European domestic market?

Answer
(18 May 1998)

The Honourable Member is informed that the preparatory discussions concerning the proposal for a Regulation
on the application of Articles 92 and 93 of the EC Treaty to certain categories of horizontal state aid are
continuing in the Council’s subordinate bodies. Pending the Opinion of the European Parliament, the Council has
not yet determined its final position.

Once it has received that Opinion, the Council will complete its discussions as soon as possible.