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9. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/71

(98/C 310/92) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0472/98


by Richard Howitt (PSE) to the Commission
(27 February 1998)

Subject: Negotiating period for SPDs in the new structural fund programming period 1999-2006

Does the Commission accept that an unacceptable cause of delayed starts for structural fund programmes during
1994-99 was the lengthy period of negotiations under some programmes and with some Member States for
approval of SPDs? Will the Commission provide a league table of the average time in respect of each Member
State during the programming periods between the Commission’s publication of its draft SPD and final
agreement with the Member States concerned? What measures does the Commission propose to tackle this
problem in the new period 1999-2006? Could this include a target date for completion with a fixed mechanism
for arbitration if agreement is not reached in that period?

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


(6 April 1998)

The considerable volume of financial resources involved and the large number of draft programming documents
— some, in the Commission’s view, of insufficient quality − meant that extra time was needed to meet the
quality criteria set out in the regulations, especially those requiring precise quantification of objectives, prior
appraisal of the expected impact, environmental information and compliance with the principle of additionality.

Since the single programming documents differ in their scope and intentions, the Commission does not consider
it appropriate to publish a ‘league table’ by Member State comparing the times taken to reach final approval.

For the next programming period the Commission will do everything it can to ensure that work on the new
programmes starts as soon as possible and is conducted expeditiously. However, it is the legislator’s decision on
the amounts of funding available which will determine the content of the programming documents to be drawn
up by the Member States and the date from which their preparation can begin.

Experience of previous programming periods shows that agreement between Commission and Member States
within the partnership is consistently achieved despite the sometimes insufficient quality of the original
submissions. A situation of fundamental and irreconciliable disagreement on development priorities has not yet
been encountered. Because it is essential to start a programming period with sound and well-balanced
programming documents which will ensure that Community resources are used effectively and efficiently, it is in
the interests of both Commission and Member States to devote the necessary time and effort to ensuring that this
is the case. The Commission does not therefore feel that it would be helpful to impose a deadline on their
preparation and approval.

(98/C 310/93) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0476/98


by Richard Howitt (PSE) to the Commission
(27 February 1998)

Subject: Consultation with local and regional partners in east and south-east England regarding structural fund
reform

Could the Commission list the contacts it has made with and the representations it has received from local and
regional agencies and social partners regarding reform of the structural funds from eastern and south-eastern
regions of England (outside London), since and at the time of the Cohesion Forum in April 1997? What further
consultations does the Commission plan in this respect?
C 310/72 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10. 98

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


(7 April 1998)

The bodies in Eastern and South East England from which the Commission has received representations on the
reform of the structural funds are Kent County Council, Dover District Council, Isle of Wight Council, Isle of
Wight Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the English Regional Associations (which include the standing
conference of East Anglian local authorities (Sceala) and South East regional planning).

The Commission has also received a paper from Sceala setting out its response to ‘Agenda 2000’ (1). Sceala
covers the counties of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk and the seven
training and enterprise councils of the Eastern region.

The Commission has no plans for further formal consultation, although regular informal contact is maintained
with the regional offices in Brussels.

(1) COM(97) 2000 final.

(98/C 310/94) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0479/98


by Richard Howitt (PSE) to the Commission
(27 February 1998)

Subject: Guidelines in structural fund programmes as agreed at the informal Council in Ireland on 14-15
November 1996

Does the Commission agree there may be a case for approving its guidelines for structural fund programmes, as
agreed at the informal Council in Ireland on 14-15 November 1996, (or its counterpart in future) at the same time
as final approval of the new Structural Fund regulations for 2000-2006, in order to avoid unnecessary effort in the
Member States in preparing their submissions and the need for wasteful subsequent alterations?

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


(6 April 1998)

The new proposals for structural funds regulations contain specific provision for the Commission to establish
Community guideline priorities for each of the objectives. Precisely in order to avoid unnecessary effort in the
Member States and the need for subsequent alterations, the guidelines will be issued before the presentation of
their plans. The aim is to agree the guidelines at the same time as final adoption of the new regulations or as soon
as possible thereafter.

(98/C 310/95) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0481/98


by Richard Howitt (PSE) to the Commission
(27 February 1998)

Subject: Use of experts to evaluate structural fund bids and performance

Could the Commission list the number of external experts it recruited in 1997 to advise on applications for and
evaluations of structural fund programmes and break down this total by nationality and gender? What proportion
of these experts received formal training on the EU’s requirements concerning structural fund programmes prior
to undertaking this work? What was the total cost of their work in 1997? Which recruitment measures did the
Commission use to ensure openness, transparency and non-discrimination?