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C 192 E/2 Official Journal of the European Union EN 14.8.

2003

(2003/C 192 E/002) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0686/02


by Erik Meijer (GUE/NGL) to the Commission

(11 March 2002)

Subject: Continuation of construction work in violation of national regulations due to threat of withdrawal
of EU subsidy in the event of delay

1. Can the Commission confirm that it has authorised the payment of a grant of EUR 4,5 million
towards the construction of a third sea harbour, outside the lock complex, at Ijmuiden in the Netherlands,
in addition to the EUR 5 million being provided by the Netherlands Ministry of Transport and Public
Works?

2. Is the Commission aware that, in the course of this project, legislation on construction and the
environment was violated on a number of occasions in 2001, inter alia by dredging polluted sediment
without prior authorisation and by dumping illegal spoil from dredging, but that in August 2001 the work
was not suspended, which would have been the normal penalty, because according to the ministry’s
inspectorate this could result in ‘the loss of a generous subsidy from the European Commission’, meaning
that suspension would have resulted in the strict implementation deadlines applicable to the subsidy being
exceeded?

3. Have there been other instances in which controversial projects which ought, under national or
regional regulations, to have been halted or postponed have continued purely because any delay would
have contravened the deadlines on which payments from European Union funds were conditional?

4. Will the Commission take measures to ensure that national and regional considerations relating to
public participation, safety at work or violations of environmental legislation or construction regulations,
are not in practice trampled underfoot on account of rigid deadlines for EU subsidies, and will it therefore
make proposals to enable subsidies to be paid after the deadline if necessary, for example if a delay is due
to enforcement of national and regional legislation which is applicable to everybody?

Source: De Volkskrant, 25 February 2002.

Answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission

(21 May 2002)

According to the information received from the Dutch authorities, the project for the construction of a
third sea port in IJmuiden has been carried out under the responsibility of ‘Zeehaven IJmuiden NV’, a
private company which is partly owned by the local authorities. In 1998, a financial contribution of up to
EUR 5 million was allocated to the sea port project under the Community Initiative programme Resider
IJmond 1994-1999 co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund. This programme is
managed by the local organisation IJmond IJzersterk. The time limit for the realisation of projects under
this programme is 31 December 2001.

The Commission is aware of the remarks in the Dutch press concerning a possible infringement of
national environmental law in relation to this project. It will clarify the situation before taking a decision
to close the programme.

In the event that legal proceedings are opened which lead to an order to suspend the implementation of a
project, then Article 52 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 laying down general provisions on the
Structural Funds (1) applies. In such cases, the programme is the subject of a partial closure. This means
that the closure decision is suspended for projects subject to legal proceedings until these proceedings are
concluded.

(1) OJ L 161, 26.6.1999.