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C 402/82 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 22.12.

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Other networks of cooperation in the Black Sea area include the Black Sea trade and development bank in
Thessaloniki, the Black Sea regional energy centre in Sofia and the Black Sea study centre in Athens. Some of
these have been receiving Community support.

In addition, the Commission has supported financially the establishment and functioning of the corresponding
institutions implementing the international convention for the protection of the Danube River which is the most
important source of pollution of the Black Sea.

In conclusion, the Commission has been supporting politically and financially all the international networks and
institutions that could have an impact on the environmental situation of the Black Sea. Through the enlargement
strategy of the Community the support of the countries of the Black Sea by Phare will continue. It will now be up
to these countries to ensure the effectiveness of the functioning of the international networks for safeguarding the
environment of the Black Sea.

(1 ) COM(97) 597 final.


(2 ) COM(97) 659 final.

(98/C 402/102) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1149/98


by Nuala Ahern (V) to the Commission
(24 April 1998)

Subject: Eastern Electricity project in Great Britain to replace the existing pylons between Norwich and Great
Yarmouth in East Anglia

The Norfolk broads are internationally renowned for their wetlands and wildlife and have been designated a
Ramsar site. The area is also subject to a European Union consultation process as to whether they should be given
both Special Protection Area status under the Birds Directive (79/409/EEC (1)) and Conservation (SAC) status
under the Habitats and Species Directive (92/43/EEC (2)).

Is it then permissible that plans are being developed to erect 23m high pylons with twice the number of cables
across miles of rural countryside? Will the Commission investigate the viability of a project which fails to
incorporate environmental considerations and ignores the strength of community feeling. Eastern Electricity has
also failed to release financial figures which could be crucial to the formulation of a more equitable plan, for
example where cables are buried underground.

(1 ) OJ L 103, 25.4.1979, p. 1.
(2 ) OJ L 206, 22.7.1992, p. 7.

Answer given by Mrs Bjerregaard on behalf of the Commission


(28 May 1998)

1. An area called ‘Broadland’, forming part of the Norfolk Broads, has been classified by the United Kingdom
as a special protection area (SPA) pursuant to Article 4 of Council Directive 79/409/EEC of 2 April 1979 on the
conservation of wild birds. An area called ‘The Broads’ has been proposed as a special area of conservation
(SAC) by the United Kingdom pursuant to Article 4(1) of Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the
conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. The United Kingdom has also informed the
Commission that it is undertaking further consultations with a view to extending the boundaries of this proposed
SAC.

2. The protection regime applying to the Broadland SPA is defined in Article 6(2), (3) and (4) of Council
Directive 92/43/EEC. Accordingly, any plan or project not directly connected to the management of this site but
likely to have a significant effect on it must be subject to an appropriate environmental assessment in view of the
site’s conservation objectives.

3. The project to which the Honourable Member refers would replace existing pylons. There is reference to the
fact that the erection of 23 metre high pylons will result in twice the number of cables across miles of countryside.
However, there is no evidence to suggest that the proposed development is likely to have any significant negative
effect on the conservation interests for which Broadland was classified as a SPA. Therefore, the Commission
22.12.98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 402/83

does not consider from the information given by the Honourable Member that there is a basis for it to intervene in
this matter which falls under national competence.

4. With respect to the impact on the environment this is usually assessed through an environmental impact
assessment according to Council Directive 85/337/EEC of 27 June 1985 on the assessment of the effects of
certain public and private projects on the environment (1). Projects concerning the transmission of electrical
energy are included in Annex II to this Directive which means that an EIA is not mandatory, but is carried out
when Member States consider it necessary as a result of its size, location, etc. A recent modification of this
Directive by Council Directive 97/11/EC of 3 March 1997 on the assessment of the effects of certain public and
private projects on the environment (2) renders such an assessment mandatory as of 14 March 1999 for
construction of overhead electrical power lines with a voltage of 220 kilowatt or more and a length of more
than 15 kilometres. The Commission does not dispose of information on the technical characteristics of this
project and related environmental assessments.

(1 ) OJ L 175, 5.7.1985.
(2 ) OJ L 73, 14.3.1997.

(98/C 402/103) WRITTEN QUESTION E-1151/98

by Bill Miller (PSE) to the Commission

(24 April 1998)

Subject: NUTS II

If per capita GDP at NUTS II level is acceptable for Objective 1 but not for Objective 2 at NUTS III level, why is
per capita GDP acceptable for state aids at NUTS III level?

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

(26 May 1998)

Gross domestic product (GDP) is a broad measure of regional prosperity and development and therefore an
appropriate indicator for the selection of the least developed objective 1 regions. It is particularly relevant to large
regions (nomenclature of territorial statistical units (NUTS) II Level) where commuter flows tend to be limited,
so that the GDP generated within the region can be attributed to the resident population.

On both these counts, GDP is an inappropriate indicator for the new objective 2 proposed by the Commission.
The areas potentially eligible for this objective are those seriously affected by economic restructuring which is
not directly related to their level of prosperity. Such areas experience other problems indicated by the rate of
unemployment, the levels of industrial employment, the level and development of activity in agriculture and in
the fishing industry and the degree of social exclusion. Objective 2 areas would also typically be significantly
smaller than the large less developed regions eligible for objective 1. For smaller areas, the GDP statistic is often a
poor representation of the level of prosperity because of the effects of commuter flows. Thus otherwise
prosperous residential areas may have low levels of GDP per head of population because the enterprises
responsible for wealth creation are located in an adjacent region.

As regards eligibility for state aids, according to the new guidelines, GDP per capita at NUTS III level will not be
used for the selection of assisted areas under Article 92, 3c of the EC Treaty but, together with the unemployment
rate, will serve to calculate the population ceiling of eligible areas for each Member State. GDP per capita is thus
used as a general indicator of the incidence of problem regions in a Member State, while the actual selection of
areas would be based on a range of other criteria.

Where GDP per capita is used to decide on assisted areas, i.e. for the least developed areas under Article 92, 3a of
the EC Treaty, this decision is again based on data at NUTS II level.