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C 242 E/58 Official Journal of the European Union EN 9.10.


programme’; in addition, ‘the Council considers it is appropriate to keep high primary surpluses above 6 %
of GDP and to pursue, if necessary, further budgetary adjustment effort, taking into account the high level
of debt’. Furthermore, ‘taking into consideration the still very high level of the government debt ratio, as
well as the perspective of increasing budgetary costs stemming from the ageing population, the Council
urges the Greek government to take advantage of the current favourable macroeconomic situation to
reduce the government debt as fast as possible’. The 2002 update of the Greek stability programme, 2002-
2006, was submitted on 2 December 2002. The Commission will issue a recommendation for a Council
opinion in early 2003, assessing the compliance of the budgetary position and its prospects with the
requirements of the Stability and Growth Pact.

(2003/C 242 E/058) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3413/02

by Kathleen Van Brempt (PSE) to the Commission

(29 November 2002)

Subject: Government aid for professional clubs

Many European professional sports clubs manage to survive only thanks to local authority assistance. With
municipalities providing subsidies, standing surety for bank loans, funding the building of stadiums etc.

What view does the Commission take of this?

Is public funding for professional clubs covered by European rules regarding competition and government

If so, what does this mean for the local authorities and professional clubs?

Are professional clubs required to inform the Commission of government aid and do they all do so?

In the Commission’s view, what type of government aid falls under Community rules? For example, can
subsidies for youth teams be made subject to the same rules as subsidies for professional clubs?

Can the Commission ask professional clubs to reimburse government aid?

Is government aid to Belgian professional clubs in accordance with European legislation? If not, in which
cases are infringements occurring?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(27 January 2003)

According to constant jurisprudence by the Court of Justice, professional sports clubs have to be regarded
as undertakings, as they perform an economic activity (1). Therefore, any type of public support to these
undertakings falls in principle under the state aid rules provided that all other criteria of Article 87(1) of
the EC Treaty are also fulfilled. For example, aid granted to professional sports clubs, which does not have
an effect on trade between Member States, does not fall under the aforementioned article.

If, however, all the criteria of Article 87(1) of the EC Treaty are fulfilled, the same rules apply as if aid is
granted to any other kind of undertaking. This implies an obligation to the Member State to notify aid to
the Commission. The aid may only be granted to the undertaking upon approval of the Commission.
In case the aid is incompatible, the Commission may order the Member State to recover the aid from the
beneficiary, if it has been illegally paid out in breach of the above mentioned prohibition.
9.10.2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 242 E/59

The assessment of financial support to professional sports clubs will vary depending on the characteristics.
It might, for example, be considered not to be aid for an economic activity, as in the case of compensation
for the education of young players (2). Under certain strict conditions, financial support for stadiums may
also be considered as funding for infrastructure and not constitute aid.

Accordingly, the Commission cannot state in general terms whether state aid, within the meaning of
Article 87(1) of the EC Treaty, has been granted to Belgian professional sports clubs. It needs to be assessed
on a case by case basis whether forms of public support constitute State aid and whether they are
compatible with the EC Treaty.

(1) Cases C-415/93, Bosman and C-41/90, Höfner.

(2) Commission Decision N 118/2000, France, state aid for professional sports clubs  OJ C 333, 28.11.2001.

(2003/C 242 E/059) WRITTEN QUESTION P-3454/02

by Christopher Heaton-Harris (PPE-DE) to the Commission
(27 November 2002)

Subject: The establishment of a European Public Prosecutor

How much money does the Commission estimate establishing a European Public Prosecutor will cost?

Answer given by Mrs Schreyer on behalf of the Commission

(7 January 2003)

The establishment of a European Financial Prosecutor has been recently addressed in the Green Paper on
protection of the financial interests of the Community by criminal law and the establishment of a
European Financial Prosecutor (1). This paper is only a consultative document to be used as a basis for an
open discussion.

The Green Paper presents various options for the establishment of a European Financial Prosecutor, which
can be combined in many ways. Each combination of choices would have a different financial impact. As a
consequence and in the absence of a legal basis enshrined in the EC Treaty, full preparatory legislative
work, including a financial impact assessment, is not possible at this stage.

One of the proposals made in the Green Paper is the organisation of the European Financial Prosecutor on
a decentralised basis. In such a case, the European Financial Prosecutor’s own resources would be small.

The Green Paper also proposes that the European Financial Prosecutor have his/her own budget, charged
to the general budget of the Communities. This budget would be managed on a totally independent basis
by the European Financial Prosecutor in accordance with the rules of the EC Treaty and the financial
legislation implementing them.

Finally, the Commission underlines that the creation of the European Financial Prosecutor is in the
interests of the European taxpayer, as the aim is to protect EU finances.

(1) COM(2001) 715 final.

(2003/C 242 E/060) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3479/02

by Philippe Herzog (GUE/NGL) to the Commission
(6 December 2002)

Subject: Extension of the Lamfalussy process and financial supervision

In the debate on extension of the Lamfalussy process and financial supervision at the plenary sitting in
Strasbourg on 20 November 2002, the Commissioner responsible for the single market expressed his
intention of replying to each of the speakers. But he made one exception, omitting to answer the author of