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C 207/100 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 21.7.


Does it intend to make this strategy the subject of a political Communication by the Commission,
accompanied by specific measures to ensure transparency, consistency and coordination?

Answer given by Mr de Silguy on behalf of the Commission

(4 February 1999)

1. The Commission considers that the different investment support instruments in favour of third countries
reflect the diversity of the Community’s contractual relations with its partners and its policy priorities in the
different regions of the world. These instruments have of course been developed at different moments and
reflect the evolutionary nature of Community relationships with each particular region. They also take into
account the very distinct economic and social situations of those regions as well as the difference in the
Community’s geopolitical priorities. These factors explain most of the apparent discrepancies between the
different instruments.

The establishment of those instruments has nevertheless been driven by common values encompassing
political, economic and social conditionalities. The Commission ensures that all actions financed from the
different instruments respect international social, environmental, employment and development standards,
and are also of mutual benefit to Community enterprises. The instruments in place already take account of the
need to promote sustainable growth and a climate conducive to investment, to facilitate the transition to
market economies and to encourage European investment in emerging markets.

At the operation level the Commission is committed to regular review of the functioning of these instruments
so as to streamline administrative procedures and avoid procedural disparities in the field of external aid. The
recent creation of the Joint service for Community aid to non-member countries (SCR) has this as one of its
main objectives.

2. For these reasons the Commission does not intend to propose a unified strategy in the field of investment
support for third countries which could be applicable across-the-board. Of course, this does not prevent the
Commission, as a single institution, ensuring the necessary transparency and consistency.

(1999/C 207/135) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3651/98

by Cristiana Muscardini (NI) to the Commission

(3 December 1998)

Subject: Protection of mountainous agricultural areas

Law 335/95 delegated the task of rationalising the tax concessions for disadvantaged agricultural areas to the
Italian Government. Legislative Decree 146/97 provided for a new classification of these areas to apply from
1 January 1998, subsequently changed to 1 January 1999. This classification is decided on by the CIPE
(Interministerial Committee for Economic Planning), but the ministry responsible for this area has submitted
reclassification proposals to the trade organisations, prompting reactions from elected representatives and
local authorities worried about further difficulties for agriculture and the certain failure of the companies that
are still operating in these areas. It would appear that the criteria used by the Ministry of Agriculture are based
on so-called objective parameters, which are applied across the board without regard for the special
circumstances of certain provinces.

In order to establish whether or not the criteria are analogous with the Community criteria and aims adopted
in relation to the protection of disadvantaged mountainous areas under the CAP,

1. can the Commission say what classification criteria it used;

2. did it taken account of the territorial scope of the companies in question and their fragmented nature;

3. did it consider the lower productivity of the funds and the higher production costs;

4. did it take account of the existence of regional planning constraints of a territorial (parks, nature reserves
and sanctuaries), hydrological and environmental nature;

5. did it assess the ecological risks associated with closure of production facilities, caused by the increased
poverty of populations living in mountainous areas?
21.7.1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 207/101

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(15 January 1999)

The Honourable Member’s questions concern the aid scheme to benefit less-favoured agricultural areas laid
down by Council Regulation (EC) 950/97 of 20 May 1997 on improving the efficiency of agricultural
structures (1).

1. Mountain areas are characterised by either very difficult climatic conditions resulting in a shortened
growing season, or steep slope excluding the use of machinery or requiring the use of very expensive
equipment. Alternatively a combination of these factors may lead to the classification of mountain areas. For
Italy, under Council Directive 75/273/EEC of 28 April 1975 concerning the Community list of less-favoured
farming areas within the meaning of Directive No 75/268/EEC (2) the specific criteria are a minimal average
altitude of the commune of 700 m for Northern and Central Italy and of 800 m for Southern Italy, or slopes
steeper than 20 %, or a minimum altitude of 600 m for Northern and Central Italy and of 700 m for Southern
Italy and, simultaneously, slopes steeper than 15 %.

2. Neither the surface cultivated by each individual farm nor the fragmentation of the terrain is taken into
consideration as a criterion for classification. However, for the granting of compensatory allowances to
farmers in less-favoured areas a minimum threshold is three hectares of usable agricultural area (two hectares
in the Italian Mezzogiorno).

3. These aspects are inherently related to the definition of mountain areas. In addition Member States fix the
amounts of compensatory allowances to be granted according to the severity of the permanent natural
handicaps affecting farm activities.

4. Criteria other than altitude and slope are not taken into account for the classification of mountain areas.
Environmental and hydro-geological constraints can be considered for classification of ‘small areas affected by
specific handicaps,’ the third type of less-favoured area.

5. The Commission emphasises that the impoverishment of the agricultural population as well as its
consequences such as abandonment of fields, degradation of the environmental and depopulation are the
major concerns of the Community aid scheme for less-favoured areas as reflected in its definition.
Furthermore, depopulation is one of the explicit criteria for classification of ‘less-favoured areas in danger
of depopulation,’ the second type of less-favoured area.

Finally it should be mentioned that the Commission is not aware of any initiative of reclassification mentioned
by the Honourable Member. Member States communicate to the Commission the proposed amendments of
the boundaries of the less-favoured areas and submit all relevant information. For the modification of an
existing classification the decision level (Council or Commission) depends on the extent of the modifications.

(1) OJ L 142, 2.6.1997.

(2) OJ L 128, 19.5.1975.

(1999/C 207/136) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3654/98

by Lutz Goepel (PPE) to the Commission

(7 December 1998)

Subject: Effectiveness of disinfection measures as part of the fight against epidemics among animals

Thorough disinfection is an important link in the chain of measures to be taken if epidemics among animals
are to be combated. The disinfectants available are expected to meet stringent requirements as to their
effectiveness. They must be, for example, compatible with animals, highly wettable, non-corroding, quick to
take effect, effective at an outdoor temperature of less than 10°C in certain cases, toxicologically and
ecotoxicologically safe and officially authorised.

Large quantities of an effective disinfectant are needed for the disinfection of farm buildings and vehicles and
for vehicle troughs and footbaths. Given the high costs to which this gives rise, there is a danger that the
instructions for the use of disinfectants will not be observed and adequate protection against epidemics will not
be ensured.