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C 137 E/86 Official Journal of the European Union EN 12.6.

2003

Thousands of people have seen their homes wrecked and their livelihoods destroyed.

The damage caused by the floods runs into several billion euros.

In the face of this disaster, can the Council answer the following questions:
1. Is the Council in favour of creating a specific EU disaster fund so that the damage caused by disasters
in the Member States can be repaired as quickly as possible?
2. If so, what steps are being considered on the Council’s part with a view to setting up a disaster fund?
3. When are the first concrete measures for the fund’s creation likely to be taken?

Reply
(18 February 2003)

As the Honourable Memer is aware, the European Union has acted very quickly so as to be able to give a
rapid response, in particular in financial terms, to the terrible disasters caused by the flooding in Austria,
Germany and some of the candidate countries in August 2002. The Council would remind her that the
debate held by the European Parliament on the flooding on 3 September 2002, the President of the
Council informed the European Parliament of its political support for setting up such a fund.

The European Commission presented a draft Interinstitutional Agreement between the European
Parliament, the Council and the Commission on the financing of the European Union Solidarity Fund on
11 September 2002, and a proposal for a Council Regulation establishing the European Union Solidarity
Fund on 18 September 2002.

The European Parliament, the Council and the Commission held a trialogue meeting concerning the
Interinstitutional Agreement in Strasbourg on 23 September 2002. All parties showed considerable
flexibility in the light of the urgency of the matter and committed themselves to reaching agreement on
the full mechanism as soon as possible in order to allow effective assistance to be given to the populations
affected by the flooding as quickly as possible in 2002.

On 16 October 2002 a joint guideline concerning the abovementioned Regulation was agreed by the
Council’s preparatory bodies.

Lastly, the Council would point out that the question of the financing of the European Union Solidarity
Fund was resolved under an Interinstitutional Agreement of 7 November 2002 between the European
Parliament, the Council and the Commission (1). The Fund was established by Council Regulation
(EC) No 2012/2002 of 11 November 2002 (2).

(1) OJ C 283, 20.11.2002, p. 1.


(2) OJ L 311, 14.11.2002, p. 3.

(2003/C 137 E/098) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2491/02


by Pere Esteve (ELDR) to the Commission
(2 September 2002)

Subject: Planning agreement involving Real Madrid football club and the free competitive market

On 7 May 2001, the President of the Madrid autonomous region, the Mayor of Madrid and the President
of Real Madrid football club signed an agreement on the development of a site located in the district of
Fuencarral-El Pardo and bounded by the streets Paseo de la Castellana, Avenida de Monforte de Lemos,
Calle de Pedro Rico and Calle del Arzobispo Morcillo. Under this agreement, the administrations concerned
undertake to take all necessary action with a view to changing the classification for planning purposes of
the (approximately) 120 ha on which the existing Real Madrid sports complex is located. This means that
30 000 m2 of land hitherto classified as being for ‘private sporting use’ will be reclassified as being for all-
purpose ‘tertiary’ use (offices, commercial establishments, hotels, etc). It is planned to build, on this
reclassified site, four 54-storey towers, whose sale and/or exploitation would bring in considerable extra
income for Real Madrid. This would allow the club to pay off its considerable debt and provide it with a
12.6.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 137 E/87

financial base outstripping its competitors. Given that under Community law European football must be
considered a single market, it is clear that to place a Spanish club in a privileged situation of this kind will
affect not only other clubs in Spain but also their counterparts in other EU Member States, since all have
to use the same market in goods and services, whether to acquire sporting material or to engage the
services of players and trainers. What is at issue here is not the right of football clubs to exist, irrespective
of their prosperity level or resources, but the fact that the circumstances surrounding the transfer or sale of
the property in question reflect a particular political and administrative preference, in breach of the rules
of fair competition.

This operation could be considered an ‘aid granted by a Member State’ to Real Madrid. This would be
contrary to Community law, given the provisions of Article 87 of Title VI of the EC Treaty, which states:
‘Save as otherwise provided in this Treaty, any aid granted by a Member State or through State resources
in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain
undertakings or the production of certain goods shall, insofar as it affects trade between Member States,
be incompatible with the common market.’ A cloak of legality has been thrown over a state aid by
disguising it as a planning measure. The irregularity may reside, not in the desire of a sports club to obtain
the reclassification of a site belonging to it, but in the fact that this reclassification by means of a planning
agreement has had an outcome which excessively favours the main owner involved, i.e. Real Madrid, and
therefore cannot be fairly compared with other operations in the planning and sporting spheres.

Does the Commission intend to examine the legitimacy of this operation, which could have the effect of
substantially undermining and distorting free competition within an economic sector  i.e. sport and,
specifically, football  which is highly globalised in character? If so, will the Commission take the
necessary steps with a view to correcting this distortion, pursuant to Article 88 of the EC Treaty?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(26 September 2002)

As regards the possible infringement of state aid rules in the case at issue, the Commission reminds that,
as confirmed by the case law of the Court of Justice, only advantages granted directly or indirectly through
state resources are to be considered aid within the meaning of article 87 of the EC Treaty (1).

The Commission notes that the new qualification of the terrain in question does not appear to involve any
direct or indirect transfer of resources by either the city of Madrid or the Autonomous Community of
Madrid. The fact that the new qualification confers an advantage to Real Madrid is as such not capable of
conferring upon it the character of state aid within the meaning of article 87 of the EC Treaty.

Accordingly, on the basis of the information available, the Commission considers that sufficient grounds
do not exist for investigating the case under the state aid provision of the EC Treaty.

(1) Case C-379/98, Preussen Elektra AG v. Schleswag AG, 13 March 2001, ECR I-02099.

(2003/C 137 E/099) WRITTEN QUESTION P-2503/02


by Kathalijne Buitenweg (Verts/ALE) to the Council

(3 September 2002)

Subject: Proposal for a framework directive on data retention

In response to a report by Statewatch concerning the existence of a proposal for a framework directive on
data retention, the Danish Presidency issued a press release on 22 August 2002 denying that it had put
forward such a proposal. It has not, however, denied that such a proposal exists.