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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 110 E/139

assistance for the disposal of slaughter waste and fallen stock and for transmissible spongiform
encephalopathy (TSE) tests while others receive no recompense for such costs, creates serious distortions
of competition. The Agriculture Council has also discussed this issue on a number of occasions.

Directorate general Agriculture has therefore carried out a survey of the Member States to collect the
relevant information on these measures. The Member States were also invited to a meeting of the working
group ‘Conditions of competition in agriculture’, which discussed the danger of distortions of competition
due to such aid schemes.

Based on this information the Commission is now drawing up Community guidelines setting out future
Commission policy with respect to state aid for TSE tests, fallen stock and slaughterhouse waste. These
guidelines will presumably enter into force from 1 January 2003 onwards.

(2003/C 110 E/158) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2974/02

by Pere Esteve (ELDR)
and Camilo Nogueira Román (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(22 October 2002)

Subject: Granting of European aid to economic development in rural areas in the administrative district of

The administrative district of Safor in the Region of Valencia submitted two projects to compete for aid
under the Proder II programme. The first project (APE-Safor) was submitted by the ‘Association for the
Economic Promotion of Safor’, which includes the Mancomunitat de la Safor and the Higher Polytechnic of
Gandía, together with about a dozen private organisations in the business, social, ecological and cultural
spheres. The second project (Vernissa-Serpis) was submitted by five town councils with mayors belonging
to the People’s Party (PP) in the area known as the ‘Vall de Vernissa’. The latter project was submitted
without the knowledge of three other mayors belonging to a different political party, but whose councils
would, in principle, benefit from the aid requested. The first project, approved by all the political parties
and debated in the relevant fora with total transparency, covered all the councils in the administrative
district (including those involved in the Vernissa-Serpis project) in order to avoid fragmentation. The five
mayors referred to above nevertheless decided to act separately and present their own project. In the end
the Agriculture Department of the Generalitat Valenciana (the body responsible for distributing the aid)
awarded the aid to the Vernissa-Serpis project and rejected the other project, which had the same aims and
would have benefited the whole Safor area.

Those responsible for the APE-Safor project spent a month asking for the documentation on the Valencian
Proder projects to be reviewed, but they were not given an appointment until an hour after the deadline
for the submission of appeals against the award of the Proder funding. They then drew up a preliminary
appeal for reallocation of funding requesting the annulment of the award of European funding under the
Proder programme, since they considered that the Generalitat Valenciana had withheld information by not
allowing APE-Safor access to the basic criteria and detailed explanations justifying its rejection of their
project (the award decision merely indicated which projects had been selected and which had not, on the
basis of a detailed report which was not made public). The appeal pointed out that all the documentation
concerning the award of aid by a public authority must be totally public and transparent and that any
restriction on it constitutes unfair obscurantism and in this case meant that the association APE-Safor was
helpless. Furthermore, the appeal considered that the origin of the order was contrary to the EU criteria for
the application of rural developments projects, as regards the composition of local action groups and the
chairmanship of such groups. It emerged, inter alia, that the assessment committee responsible for
allocating the money consists of people appointed exclusively by institutions run by the PP. The appeal
was rejected by the Agriculture Department on 22 July 2002, which has prompted the questioners to take
up the complaint with the European institutions.

Is the Commission aware of the facts outlined above? Does it intend to take any steps to investigate and
remedy this alleged instance of mismanagement and political use of European funding by certain public
C 110 E/140 Official Journal of the European Union EN 8.5.2003

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(22 November 2002)

The Commission is aware of the matter to which the Honourable Members refer. On 31 July 2002 the
SAFOR Association wrote to the Commission Member responsible for the Directorate-General for

On 19 September the Director-General for Agriculture replied to the Association voicing the Commission’s
concern over the lack of information and transparency and the possibility of irregularity raised by the
Association’s representative.

The national authorities have sole responsibility for selection of local action groups. The selection criteria
set out in the Integrated Operational Programme for Comunidad Valenciana approved by a Commission
Decision (1), which were specifically examined by the Commission on the occasion of the negotiations,
must be respected.

The Directorate-General for Agriculture has sought clarification on the points at issue from the Agriculture
Ministry. If any infringement of the Community rules or fraud is found to have occurred the Commission
will notify the relevant authorities.

(1) C(2001) 249, 7.3.2001.

(2003/C 110 E/159) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2976/02

by Olivier Dupuis (NI) to the Commission

(22 October 2002)

Subject: Inhumane prison conditions of Mr Latsamy Khamphoui and Mr Feng Sackchittaphong

Mr Latsamy Khamphoui, a former minister of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and Mr Feng
Sackchittaphong, a former senior civil servant at the Ministry of Justice, have been imprisoned at Forced
Labour Camp No 7 in the province of Houaphanh, in the north of Laos, since 1990. These two members
of the opposition  and another former minister, Mr Thongsouk Saysangkhi, who died in the same forced
labour camp in February 1998 as a result of torture, privation and the absence of medical care  were
sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for ‘a State security offence’ after a sham trial in which no defence
was provided. They had written open letters to the sole party’s leaders denouncing the ‘totalitarian’ nature
of the regime, calling for the establishment of a multi-party system and democratic reforms, and
demanding an end to social injustice and corruption within the party. Mr Latsamy Khamphoui and Mr Feng
Sackchittaphong are both over 60; they are seriously ill, with poor eyesight, and kidney and pulmonary
problems, and are almost unable to walk; they are isolated in an underground cell from which they are
only allowed out once a week. They remain without medical care in this Camp No 7, which is notorious
for its cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of prisoners. Their families are not allowed to send them
medicine and have only been able to visit them briefly, a mere three times, over their 12 years of
imprisonment. On 30 May 2002 Unesco launched a public appeal for the release of Mr Latsamy
Khamphoui on humanitarian grounds.

What practical steps has the Commission taken or will it be taking to induce the Vientiane authorities to
release Mr Latsamy Khamphoui and Mr Feng Sackchittaphong unconditionally? What response has it had
from the Laotian authorities to its representations for releasing the leaders of the demonstration of
26 October 1999, Mr Thongpaseuth Keuakoun, Mr Sengaloun Phengphanh, Mr Bouavanh Chanmanivong,
Mr Khamphouvieng Sisa-At and Mr Keochay? More generally, what steps will the Commission be taking to
induce the Vientiane authorities to undertake serious reforms towards introducing democracy and the rule
of law in Laos?