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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 110 E/77

Community Initiatives such as Interreg III and Leader+ are further valuable instruments for these regions.
Strand B of Interreg III ‘Trans-national cooperation’ includes an ‘Alpine arc’ covering the whole of the Alps
and the territory of the Alpine Convention, i.e. Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland (with its own federal
appropriations), Austria, Slovenia and Liechtenstein.

Leader+ also provides an opportunity for encouraging the implementation of innovative development
strategies initiated at local level in rural mountain areas.

As in the case of Leader I and Leader II, a large number of local action groups selected under Leader+ are
located in mountain areas.

The Union’s rural development policy contains a broad range of measures of particular importance for
these areas, including compensatory payments to those farming where land use is limited and production
costs particularly high, agri-environmental programmes, forestry measures and a number of measures for
the development and adjustment of rural areas.

As regards the future, the second report on economic and social cohesion adopted on 30 January 2001 (1)
proposed that areas with permanent geographical and/or natural handicaps, such as mountain areas,
should be among those supported by the Union’s regional policy after 2006. The Commission will publish
specific proposals to this end in its third report on cohesion at the end of 2003.

With that in mind, it has launched a study to obtain an objective diagnosis of the situation as regards
mountain areas.

(1) COM(2001) 24 final.

(2003/C 110 E/080) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2631/02

by Stavros Xarchakos (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(18 September 2002)

Subject: Lack of information concerning EU funding of projects

The EU finances numerous projects in the ‘cohesion countries’ in cooperation with those countries’
authorities. It is a requirement that a sign be displayed at the sites of such projects informing the public of
the EU’s financial contribution towards their completion. The signs displayed in Greece, however, most
frequently make no reference at all to the exact amount of the Community’s contribution and simply state
that ‘the project is jointly funded by the EU’. Likewise, in the case of the Athens Metro, only recently have
three small signs been displayed without any reference to the exact amount of the Community’s
contribution. This is a serious matter since it gives the Greek public a false impression, plays down the
importance of EU funding and creates the illusion that the Greek Government covers the lion’s share of the
overall cost of each project with only a nominal contribution from the Union.

Why do the Greek authorities not display the exact amount contributed by the Union to all the projects
jointly funded in Greece, without exception? Why was it only recently (2,5 years after the opening
ceremony) that small signs were displayed in Athens Metro stations merely stating that ‘the project was
jointly funded by the EU’?

What precise instructions do the Commission’s departments give to the Member States’ authorities in
regard to displaying signs to ensure that the public is not misinformed by them and that they do not serve
the purpose of government propaganda?
C 110 E/78 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.2003

Answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission

(28 October 2002)

The billboards for projects under construction and the commemorative plates for completed projects,
which are or have been co-financed by the Structural Funds do not necessarily need to present the rate or
the exact amount of the assistance. They must, however, refer to the fact that the project has been co-
financed by the Community and to the specific fund which has contributed to it.

As far as the Athens metro and other completed projects in Greece are concerned, where no notice had
been placed, the Commission identified this omission and wrote to the Greek authorities on 20 March
2002, asking them to take the necessary steps to comply with the provisions in force for the publicity of
the projects co-financed in the period 1994-1999 by the Structural Funds. The Commission made specific
reference to the Athens metro project in its letter.

It was only then that the signs referred to by the Honourable Member were placed in the stations of the
Athens metro.

The Commission will continue its efforts to ensure that the rules on publicity for projects co-financed by
Community Funds are respected by the Member States.

(2003/C 110 E/081) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2638/02

by Rosa Miguélez Ramos (PSE) to the Commission

(18 September 2002)

Subject: Protection of forests against fires in Galicia (Spain)

The value of the forests of southern Europe and the risks to which they are exposed have led the European
Community to take steps to protect them against fire.

Council Regulation (EEC) No 2158/92 (1) of 23 July 1992 on the protection of the Community’s forests
against fires established a ten-year Community scheme (1992-2001) for the protection of forests against
fires. The purpose of this scheme was to reduce the number of forest fire outbreaks and the extent of the
areas burned (especially in the southern parts of the Community) by combating the causes of fires and
adopting fire prevention and forest surveillance measures. The financial allocation for the period 1997-
2001 was EUR 49,4 million.

Could the Commission give details of the measures that the European Community has funded in
connection with this Regulation in the Autonomous Community of Galicia?

Has the Spanish Government presented any other plans for the future implementation of measures to
protect the forests of Galicia against fires?

(1) OJ L 217, 31.7.1992, p. 3.

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(24 October 2002)

The Commission wishes to point out to the Honourable Member that Council Regulation (EEC) No 2158/
92 of 23 July 1992 on protection of the Community’s forests against fire was last amended by Regulation
(EC) No 805/2002 of the European Parliament and the Council (1), adopted on 15 April 2002. This
extended the duration of the initial Regulation by one year and adjusted its financial allocation for the
period 1997-2002 to EUR 59,9 million, in line with the amount entered in the budget for 2002.