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C 374 E/116 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 28.12.


a draft map which would show, first, the regions which the Portuguese authorities suggested should qualify
for national regional aid under the exemptions in subparagraphs (a) and (c) of Article 87(3) of the Treaty
(formerly Article 92(3)), and, second, the intensity ceilings for aid for initial investment and aid for job
creation linked to investment envisaged in each of the regions shown, and the ceilings applicable where aid
under different schemes was combined.

The Portuguese authorities supplied a draft map of national regional aid for the period 2000-2006, and on
8 December 1999 the Commission approved the sections of the map defining the regions in Portugal
qualifying for the exemption in Article 87(3)(a), namely North, Centre, Alentejo, Algarve, Azores and

But in respect of the only Portuguese region which was to qualify under the exemption in Article 87(3)(c),
namely Lisboa e Vale do Tejo, the Commission initiated the procedure laid down in Article 88(2): it took
the view that on the basis of the available information the proposal made by the Portuguese authorities
could not be considered compatible with the guidelines. According to the Portuguese notification the
whole of this region, which accounts for 33,4 % of the population of the country, was to be covered by
the transitional period referred to in point 5.7 of the guidelines, during which the aid intensities which had
applied there until the end of 1999 under Article 87(3)(a) would be adapted. Given the limitations on the
geographical scope of point 5.7 of the guidelines which are imposed by footnote 43 to that point,
however, only a section of the region accounting for 10,2 % of the population of the country would
qualify for such a transitional period.

As the Honourable Member observes, Article 88(3) has the effect of suspending assistance until the
Article 88(2) procedure has resulted in a final decision. Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 states that
assistance from the Structural Funds must comply with Community competition law, which means that
all public regional aid in the Lisboa e Vale do Tejo region, whether or not part-financed by the Structural
Funds, has been suspended since 1 January 2000.

However, this suspension relates only to aid from the State for regional purposes, and does not in any way
affect Structural Fund measures which are intended to part-finance aid schemes of other kinds, or which
do not comprise any aid to firms. The Lisboa e Vale do Tejo region in its entirety will continue to qualify
for transitional support under Objective 1 from 1 January 2000 until 31 December 2005, and the
subregions Lezíria do Tejo and Médio Tejo will qualify for the same assistance until 31 December 2006.
The Community support framework for Portugal for the period 2000-2006 was approved by the
Commission on 14 March 2000, and includes provision for the assistance to be given to the Lisboa e
Vale do Tejo region.

(1) OJ C 74, 10.3.1998.

(2000/C 374 E/136) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0594/00
by Esko Seppänen (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(24 February 2000)

Subject: Communications directives

The USA’s intelligence service NSA carries out widespread eavesdropping on telecommunications through
the Echelon system. According to reports in the press, the French government also has a similar espionage
system. Can the Commission confirm the existence of these systems, and if so, in what way will these
matters be taken into account in the drafting of the new telecommunications directive?

Answer given by Mr Liikanen on behalf of the Commission

(13 April 2000)

The Commission would refer the Honourable Member to its statement on Echelon at Parliament’s March III
part session (1).
28.12.2000 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 374 E/117

The Commission is currently preparing the revision of Directive 97/66/EC of the Parliament and of the
Council of 15 December 1998 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in
the telecommunications sector (2). The provisions concerning privacy will attempt to take into account the
current and future technological developments.

(1) Debates of the European Parliament (March 2000).
(2) OJ L 24, 30.1.1998.

(2000/C 374 E/137) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0599/00
by Hugues Martin (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(29 February 2000)

Subject: Exchanging banknotes in national currencies for euro

On 1 January 2000, all cash held in the national currencies of the countries in the euro-zone must be
converted into euro. Many citizens keep sums of money in cash at home, the origins of which are
perfectly legal, but which have not been declared to the tax authorities.

The origins of these sums of money may be various and reflect the tradition of cash payment and what is
known in popular French culture as savings kept ‘under the mattress’.

Converting this cash into euro will mean that holders will have to declare the money to the tax authorities
and pay tax or even fines. Unless preventive action is taken, there is a definite risk of tax evasion occurring
as a result of funds being channelled through countries outside the euro-zone, or even of fraud.

Although only a rough estimate can be made of the amount of money involved in each country, the
national banking authorities estimate that the amounts are not insignificant and that large-scale tax evasion
could have an adverse effect on the economies of the euro-zone.

In addition, depending on how strict an approach is taken in each of the Member States, there is a danger
of harmful tax competition occurring within the Union.

One solution may be the reinvestment of these sums of money, under certain conditions, in the national

Has the Commission addressed the problem, in particular as part of the tax package that is currently being
discussed? If so, can it explain what proposals it has made? If not, does it intend to look into the issue?

Answer given by Mr Solbes Mira on behalf of the Commission

(27 April 2000)

In order to avoid complicating the conversion of banknotes in 2002, the Member States do not wish to
create new controls in addition to those already in place. Under Council Directive 91/308/EC of
10 June 1991 on prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering (1),
banks will simply have to check the identity of customers converting a sum of over € 15 000 in one or
more transactions.

Coins and notes will be converted free of charge for bank customers provided that the sums involved are
‘household amounts’. It will often be possible to exchange notes at commercial banks for several months
after they cease to be legal tender. The exchange period will be longer at the central bank, usually about
ten years, or sometimes indefinite, as in Belgium.

(1) OJ L 166, 28.6.1991.