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C 46 E/28 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 13.2.


(2001/C 46 E/032) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0685/00
by Andrew Duff (ELDR) to the Commission

(9 March 2000)

Subject: IGC

How does the Commission distinguish between an ‘open market’ and a ‘social market economy’?

Does the Commission support a revision to the wording of Articles 4 and 98?

Answer given by Mr Solbes Mira on behalf of the Commission

(11 May 2000)

The distinction between an ‘open market’ and a ‘social market economy’ is, in the view of the Commission,
that the former refers to the regulatory and institutional framework for the markets in which firms
compete, while the latter denotes a guiding principle for economic policy in which governments may wish
to adhere. Specifically, ‘open markets’ mean that competition is free and without barriers to entry. By
comparison, a ‘social market economy’ embodies policy objectives as reflected in Article 2 of the EC
Treaty, namely that a ‘harmonious, balanced, and sustainable development of economic activities’ and a
‘high level of employment and of social protection’ should be promoted. Evidently, as in any other area of
policymaking, a balance has to be struck between various objectives, but it is important to stress that there
is no intrinsic contradiction between seeking to have an open market economy and the aspiration for an
economy with a clear social dimension.

The Presidency conclusions from the European Council in Lisbon on 23 and 24 March 2000 bear witness
to the policy objective of making sure that economic and social policy goals are pursued in a coherent
fashion. The Council has decided to monitor developments in the area of social protection and coherence
as part of a broader monitoring effort which, in addition, covers employment, innovation and economic
reform. The monitoring efforts underpin the objective of attaining economic progress and coherence by
setting and pursuing policy targets, comparing best practice, and benchmarking structural indicators. It
follows from this, that the objectives laid down in Articles 4 and 98 (ex Articles 3a and 102a) of the EC
Treaty must be seen in the context of the EC Treaty as a whole and, consequently, the Commission sees no
reason for modifying the wording of these articles.

(2001/C 46 E/033) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0686/00
by Bárbara Dührkop Dührkop (PSE) to the Commission

(9 March 2000)

Subject: State aid from the Spanish Government to the electricity sector

Does the Commission intend to approve the Costs of Transition to a competitive system for the Spanish
electricity companies, which amount to ESP 1,3 billion?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(18 April 2000)

As part of the liberalisation of the electricity market pursuant to European Parliament and Council
Directive 96/92/EC of 19 December 1996 concerning common rules for the internal market in
electricity (1), the Spanish authorities earmarked approx ESP 1 300 000 as compensation for the ‘costs of
transition to competition’. On 29 January 1999 the Spanish authorities notified these measures under