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2002 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 115 E/233

(2002/C 115 E/250) WRITTEN QUESTION P-3142/01

by Gary Titley (PSE) to the Commission

(7 November 2001)

Subject: State Aid Regulations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

The Commission will undoubtedly be aware that, under the current State Aid Regulations, small and
medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which are owned by a larger group are classified as large companies, even
in circumstances where the parent group treats such branch plants as separate cost/profit centres and often
requires them to fund their own investment. Accordingly, any public assistance made available to them is
limited to a maximum of EUR 100 000 over a three-year period.

The Commission will, no doubt, also be aware that the events of September 11 have exacerbated the
slowdown in the global economy with serious consequences for manufacturing industry, especially SMEs,
in Britain and across Europe as a whole.

In view of these circumstances, will the Commission now agree to order an urgent review of the State Aid
Regulations, particularly the way in which they impact on SMEs owned by a larger group? In addition, will
the Commission now revise the EUR 100 000 limit on public assistance to large companies that was first
imposed in 1996?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(3 December 2001)

The criterion of independence is one of the key elements of the Commission definition of small and
medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (1). A company which is owned or controlled by a larger company cannot
be considered an SME since that ownership or control means the enterprise company does not suffer from
the handicaps, notably in terms of access to finance, which apply to independent SMEs. In particular, the
larger company is at any time free to change the arrangements for the funding of investments for the
smaller company.

Although large enterprises are not eligible to receive State aid for investment or for employment creation
outside of the assisted areas, it is not so that public assistance to such companies is limited to € 100 000
over three years. Thus, for example, large companies are eligible to receive regional aid for investments in
the assisted areas, aid for research and development and training aid in accordance with the detailed
conditions laid down in the Commission’s State aid rules.

The € 100 000 limit to which the Honourable Member refers is the the amount at which public assistance
granted to any single enterprise, outside of certain sensitive sectors such as transport and agriculture, is
considered not to constitute State aid within the meaning of Article 87 (ex Article 92) (1) of the EC Treaty.
The Commission reviewed this limit in 2000 and decided not to increase it (2).

(1) OJ L 107, 30.4.1996.

(2) Commission Regulation (EC) 69/2001 of 12 January 2001 on the application of Articles 87 (ex Article 92) and 88
(ex Article 93) of the EC Treaty to de minimis aid, OJ L 10, 13.1.2001.

(2002/C 115 E/251) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3148/01

by Jaime Valdivielso de Cué (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(14 November 2001)

Subject: Fishing

On 30 October, French fishermen blocaded the port of La Rochelle and prevented 37 Spanish fishing
vessels from unloading their catch, whilst the French authorities just looked on passively.
C 115 E/234 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 16.5.2002

Quite apart from being a clear infringement of Community law, this incident caused huge financial losses,
since the vessels in question were obliged to return to their home ports having wasted a number of fishing

In view of the fact that such events are unfortunately becoming a regular occurrence, what action is the
Commission planning to take in order to put a stop to them?

What sanctions are to be applied to France in view of that country’s tendency to repeat such acts?

Within what period of time will the relevant sanctions be announced and applied?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(6 December 2001)

The anchovy fishery in the Bay of Biscay has been a longstanding source of conflict between, on the one
hand, fleets based in the Basque Country and other Spanish Atlantic ports, which use encircling nets, and,
on the other hand, the French fleet, which mainly uses mid-water trawls.

In the past these problems have been settled to the satisfaction of both parties through dialogue and
cooperation. The ‘Josselin Agreement’, which was concluded in Arcachon in 1992 and is still in force,
introduced a code of good conduct for this fishery and could provide the basis for the search for a

The Commission is aware of the events that have taken place in the French ports of La Rochelle and Saint
Nazaire and is maintaining close contact in this connection with the authorities of the Member States
concerned; it is working to achieve reconciliation between the two parties that may bring a lasting solution
to the conflict.

In accordance with the national procedures in force, Spanish fishermen who have suffered losses as a result
of demonstrations by French fishermen in those ports can always seek compensation for damages.

The Commission is monitoring events and will, if necessary, take the requisite measures to ensure
compliance with Community law.

(2002/C 115 E/252) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3154/01

by Karin Riis-Jørgensen (ELDR) to the Commission

(14 November 2001)

Subject: Breach of competition law

The conclusion of glass supply contracts between Carlsberg A/S and Ritzenhoff Cristal AG has prompted
complaints from competing companies to the Commission that the contracts C which also involve J.G.
Durand, a partner C are contrary to EU competition law. Their claims are supported by numerous

In the Commission’s view, are the contracts between Carlsberg A/S and Ritzenhoff Cristal AG C together
with the associated contracts with J.G. Durand C consistent with EU competition law?

If the Commission finds that EU competition rules have been breached, how does it envisage putting an
end to these unlawful contracts?