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2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 330 E/177

Moreover, the Secretary-General has also set up a Task Force, which offers temporary back-up from
officials who are provisionally seconded away from their regular duties in order to cope with any non-
routine and exceptional needs of the Institution, such as IGCs or negotiations on successive enlargements.

The General Secretariat of the Council sets great store by there being a degree of flexibility with regard to
redeployment in order to be able to be able to deal with new and urgent matters whenever necessary.

(2000/C 330 E/202) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0506/00

by Christopher Huhne (ELDR) to the Commission

(28 February 2000)

Subject: Use of intelligence services to gather information about commercial activities

In the Commission’s view, would the use of intelligence services by Member States to gather information
about the commercial activities of companies from another Member State constitute a legitimate state aid?
Does it have any evidence that any Member States are directing their intelligence efforts in this way? Is it
concerned about reports that Member States are using intelligence services in this way (e.g. Sunday Times,
23 January 2000)?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(29 March 2000)

So far, the Commission does not have any evidence of the use by Member States of intelligence services to
gather sensitive commercial information from companies of other Member States. Whatever the legal
qualification of these alleged practices, the Commission will of course never support them. As regards the
legal instruments to combat these alleged practices, the Commission does not consider that the state aid
provisions constitute the most appropriate solution. This kind of practice should normally be dealt with at
national level by penal jurisdictions.

(2000/C 330 E/203) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0507/00

by Christopher Huhne (ELDR) to the Commission

(28 February 2000)

Subject: Measurement of regional living standards

Further to the answer to Written Question E-2223/99 (1) in which the Commission detailed real per capita
gross domestic product and real per capita gross regional product figures for the Union, is it convinced
that these figures represent the best guide to regional living standards that is available? Is there a means of
taking into account the income earned in one region by a resident of another  for example, a commuter
from South East England working in London  to produce series based on personal incomes rather than
gross regional product?

(1) OJ C 203 E, 18.7.2000, p. 150.

Answer given by Mr Solbes Mira on behalf of the Commission

(3 April 2000)

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the value of the production generated by resident production units. The
production value is equal to the sum of the incomes (salaries, rents and profits) generated by the
production activity. Regional GDP is therefore an overall indicator of the production activity in a region
and is well suited to measuring a region’s level of economic development.