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C 303 E/34 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 24.10.


(2000/C 303 E/031) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2201/99

by José Salafranca Sánchez-Neyra (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(29 November 1999)

Subject: Al-Invest Programme

The new phase of the Al-Invest Programme provides for the possibility of support for individual projects.
What measures has the Commission taken to ensure that payments to users are processed more efficiently
and that the rules governing implementation of the programme are respected?

The new Commission proposal states that EUR 3 m has been set aside for the organisation of TIPS. Has
the Commission carried out an assessment of TIPS?

Can the Commission explain the added value of TIPS for European firms participating in the programme?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-2198/99, E-2199/99, E-2200/99 and E-2201/99
given by Mr Patten on behalf of the Commission

(7 January 2000)

With regard to the conferences organised in 1999 and directly linked to Phase 2 of AL-Invest, there were
meetings with European operators (February 1999), Latin American operators (June 1999), and both
European and Latin American operators (October 1999, Connect, Barcelona).

There was only one significant change to the timetable: Phase 2 was presented to the LAADC committee
on 23 September 1999 instead of 14 October 1999. Some operators may have been taken by surprise by
this. The change was made simply because it enabled the budget for Phase 2 to be financially committed
from 1999 (instead of from the 2000 budget, as initially planned) and thereby obviated the need for a
stop-gap between Phases 1 and 2 of AL-Invest.

The Commission received the recommendations made at the 20 September meeting of the Spanish
Coopecos in good time and will respond to them appropriately.

The Commission can announce that it intends to maintain the AL-Invest technical secretariat as a service
to operators until 2005. This is a factor in the programme’s stability.

The Commission agrees that considerable delays took place in 1998. Nonetheless, at the end of 1998, the
Commission responded by giving detailed information to the beneficiaries to help them to present their
cases, adopting a simplified, standard contract and making sufficient human resources available to catch up
with the backlog in payments. As a result, the backlog was cleared by early 1999 and there has been no
delay in treating AL-Invest proposals since then. With regard to the losses suffered by the beneficiaries, the
Commission would point out that as for any other project, payment of interest on delays may be made
wherever there are good grounds.

The Commission would point out that an arrangement for customised business counselling (ARIEL) will be
put into practice. This arrangement will enable customised follow-up of business contacts with partners on
the other side of the Atlantic over a period of around 18 months. The new arrangement is more proactive
than the sectoral meetings which involve 20 businesses from one continent meeting 60 businesses from
the other continent over three days. The Community’s contribution to the TIPS (Technological Information
Promotion System) network totalled EUR 3 million for the period 1996-2000; for the period 2000-2004,
the contribution will be EUR 2,4 million. The contribution to TIPS will end with that phase and will cover
three years, decreasing each year. The Commission undertook a technical evaluation and a financial audit.
In summary, this electronic South-South network covers the whole of Latin America. It offers a unique
electronic network service, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises in the less developed
countries. The emerging development of the Internet leads us to believe that Community support for TIPS
will no longer be necessary in the long term. TIPS directly benefits Latin American businesses and