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9. 10.

98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 310/101

Each year the Commission indicates in the applicants’ guide the priority activities that it intends to support in the
field of adult education, and that also take into account equality of opportunity, access for the disabled, and
preference for rural and disadvantaged regions. Most of the projects financed are initiated by associations and
NGOs and relate in particular to the integration of disadvantaged groups (migrants, the disabled, the illiterate, the
unemployed), European citizenship and cooperation in adult education (comparison of systems, exchanges of
good practice).

The Commission is very aware that in a society undergoing rapid economic, social, cultural, scientific and
technological change every citizen must have the opportunity for lifelong learning. This objective will be a
priority in the next Socrates programme.

(98/C 310/135) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0607/98


by José Valverde López (PPE) to the Commission
(9 March 1998)

Subject: Social and economic cohesion

Before accepting the financial guidelines, Parliament and the Economic and Social Committee have both called
for guarantees from the Commission to the effect that those guidelines will not jeopardize the progress of social
and economic cohesion in the European Union.

The governments of the countries which benefit from cohesion fear that the reduction in solidarity and on the
volume of transfers may adversely affect the results they have achieved in their efforts to catch up with the
economically more developed countries and regions of the European Union.

What decisions or supplementary proposals is the Commission intending to make in order to remove these
uncertainties, which are creating unease and insecurity amongst the general public and in political debate at
national level?

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


(14 April 1998)

In its communication ‘Agenda 2000: for a stronger and wider Europe (1)’, the Commission proposed increasing
the Structural Funds budget for the current 15 Member States to ECU 218.3 billion (1999 prices) for the period
2000-06.

About two thirds of this funding will go to the regions lagging behind in their development eligible for Objective
1 under the reformed Structural Funds. Objective criteria will be used to allocate this funding, i.e. eligible
population, the gap between regional wealth and the Community average, national wealth and a high
unemployment level. This method will make it possible to concentrate funding in the regions with the most
serious difficulties.

As regards the Cohesion Fund, the Commission has proposed that Member States whose gross national product
(GNP) per capita is less than 90% of the Community average should continue to qualify, whether they take part in
the third phase of economic and monetary union (EMU) or not.

There is therefore no doubting the Commission’s determination to maintain the policy priority of economic and
social cohesion and to show solidarity with the least well-off Community regions. The Commission showed this
determination on 18 March 1998 by adopting the draft Regulations on the Structural Funds and the
communication to the Council and to Parliament on the establishment of a new financial perspective for the
period 2000-06.

(1) COM (97) final 2000.