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9. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/77

(98/C 310/101) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0514/98


by Edouard des Places (I-EDN) to the Commission
(19 February 1998)

Subject: The internal market and the agricultural guidance law

In France the draft agricultural guidance law, which has been submitted by the Minister of Agriculture to the
farming associations, provides, in title I, for the introduction of ‘Territorial Farming Contracts’ (CTE).

These contracts would be signed with the administrative authority, cover all farming activity, comprise a
programme of measures taking into account production targets for goods and services, area management and
environmental protection and would be consistent with national and regional guidelines.

The explanatory statement for Article 3 on the establishment of a fund to finance the CTE clearly specifies that
this fund will initially be financed by national appropriations and subsequently by appropriations generated by
adjustment of CAP aids resulting from the reform.

Does the Commission think that supplementary aids granted under these CTE, which would give rise to a
distortion of competition between producers of the various Member States, would be in conformity with the rules
relating to the internal market?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission


(6 March 1998)

Under the third paragraph of Article 93 of the EC Treaty, the Commission must be informed, in sufficient time to
enable it to submit its comments, of any plans to grant or alter aid. If, following a preliminary examination, it
considers that such a plan is not compatible with the common market having regard to Article 92, the
Commission is to initiate the procedure provided for in paragraph 2 of Article 93 of the EC Treaty. The Member
State concerned may not put its proposed measures into effect until this procedure has resulted in a final decision.

The Commission endeavours to make sure that the Member States comply with the provisions of Community
legislation when granting aid in the agricultural sector.

However, since it has not yet been informed under the aforementioned Article of the aid referred to by the
Honourable Member, the Commission is not in a position to comment on the substance of this aid.

(98/C 310/102) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0521/98


by Shaun Spiers (PSE) to the Commission
(2 March 1998)

Subject: Local Exchange Transfer Schemes (LETS)

Is the Commission aware of the case of two UK expatriates living in France who were fined by a court for
participating in a LETS? LETS schemes allow their members to help each other in return for symbolic units of
exchange that can later be bartered for other services such as baby-sitting, gardening or minor building repairs.
The system is a growing aspect of the co-operative or social economy. 240 LETS schemes have been approved
by the French Ministry of Labour, and there are many others across the EU.

Does the Commission have any plans to promote LETS schemes, which can play a major role in strengthening
civic society and combatting social exclusion? Does it plan any studies to examine their extent across the EU?
Has it any plans to discourage Member States from discriminating against LETS schemes?
C 310/78 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 9. 10. 98

Answer given by Mr Papoutsis on behalf of the Commission


(21 April 1998)

The development of local exchange trade systems (or LETs) is a phenomenon which is visibly gaining in
popularity, as shown in the cases cited by the Honourable Member.

Their importance, however, differs greatly from one Member State to another. Whilst some Member States see
them almost as public service initiatives, they pose a number of legal problems in other Member States,
particularly as regards taxation, competition, labour law and social security. It is the responsibility of the Member
States to examine most of these specific problems, insofar as these systems have not been subject to
harmonisation measures at Community level.

The Commission is certainly in favour of these many different expressions of solidarity reflected in the LETs
mutual assistance schemes, provided that these are in accordance with the respective legal provisions in the
different Member States.

It should, at all events, be noted that the Member States were asked in the Conclusions to the European Council
Meeting on Employment held in Luxembourg to investigate measures to exploit fully the possibilities offered by
job creation at local level in the social economy and in new activities linked to needs not yet satisfied by the
market, with the aim of reducing any obstacles in the way of such measures (conclusion 65).

In compliance with the principle of subsidiarity, the Commission will, for its part, investigate how all forms of
economic and legal organisation can, on an equal basis, reap the benefits of the Single Market and take part in
future stages of the process of European integration. This will be done by means of Community actions in favour
of cooperatives, mutual societies, associations and foundations (CMAF) which will, through the extension of
initiatives already launched, aim to promote a true and complete image of the sector, demonstrate and raise its
business potential, and improve its ability to prepare for the new challenges and demands of society in the
21st century.

(98/C 310/103) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0530/98


by Ludivina Garcı́a Arias (PSE) to the Commission
(2 March 1998)

Subject: Sexist content of recruitment tests

Has the Commission sought to analyse whether the phycological and aptitude tests regularly used by companies
offering recruitment services ensure equal opportunities for men and women?

Answer given by Mr Flynn on behalf of the Commission


(16 April 1998)

Studies which the Commission launched on psychotechnical tests, applied in its own recruitment procedures,
showed that such tests disadvantage women disproportionally. The Commission has, therefore, abandoned this
type of test in its own recruitment policy.

Within the next call for proposals in the context of the Fourth action programme on equal opportunities (Council
Decision 95/593/EC of 22 December 1995 (1)) for men and women, the Commission will call for projects on
raising awareness of possible indirect discrimination in recruitment examinations.

(1) OJ L 335, 30.12.1995.