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29.4.

1999 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 118/15

(1999/C 118/016) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2011/98


by José Apolinário (PSE) to the Commission

(30 June 1998)

Subject: Income and GDP − Agenda 2000

Can the Commission confirm that in the context of Agenda 2000 the concepts of GDP and income are used
interchangeably? Is it the case that in Agenda 2000 the classification of regions would look completely
different if production were used rather than income as the yardstick? What would be the results of this
prospective effort?

(1999/C 118/017) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2013/98


by José Apolinário (PSE) to the Commission

(30 June 1998)

Subject: Real disposable regional incomes

Does the Commission consider that the statistical base for the regions in Agenda 2000 is an accurate
reflection of real disposable income levels in each region?

(1999/C 118/018) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2014/98


by José Apolinário (PSE) to the Commission

(30 June 1998)

Subject: Regional GDP

Can the Commission confirm whether, in one of the studies commissioned by it for the cohesion report, it
is stated unequivocally that production and disposable income are, where the regions are concerned, two
totally different concepts?

Can it confirm whether it is stated in the same study that to confuse production with income would inflate
‘income’ figures to artificially high levels in the case of the more productive regions of the less prosperous
Member States, and would have the reverse effect with the less productive regions of the more prosperous
Member States?

Joint answer
to Written Questions E-2010/98, E-2011/98, E-2013/98 and E-2014/98
given by Mrs Wulf-Mathies on behalf of the Commission
(9 September 1998)

Gross domestic product (GDP) is the value of production generated by resident producer units. The value
of production equates to the sum of the incomes − wages, rents and profits − that are created in the course
of productive activity. The existence of this identity means that the terms GDP and income are sometimes
used interchangeably. At the same time, incomes from production are not the same as the disposable
incomes of citizens. The disposable incomes of citizens are derived from the productive income net of
taxes and transfers.

Where Agenda 2000 (1) refers to income in the context of Community structural policies, it is clearly
defined in terms of GDP. This is particularly relevant to decisions relating to the identification of lagging
regions under Objective 1, where GDP is an excellent measure of the level of development. Accordingly,
in Agenda 2000 the proposed Objective 1 criteria are defined unambiguously in terms of GDP per capita.

The differences between income from production and disposable income are clearly recognised in the
Commission’s first cohesion report of 1996 and in the underlying study to which the Honourable Member
refers. In the report, it is stated that ‘the distribution of personal disposable income (PDI) can differ
significantly from the distribution of income before taxes and benefits’. While disposable income
indicates what people living in a region can actually spend, GDP indicates what is produced in a region
and therefore, expressed per capita, its state of economic development.
C 118/16 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 29.4.1999

The study will shortly be published. In the meantime, a copy is transmitted direct to the Honourable
Member and to Parliament’s Secretariat.

(1) COM(97) 2000 final.

(1999/C 118/019) WRITTEN QUESTION E-2024/98

by Laura De Esteban Martin (PPE) to the Commission

(30 June 1998)

Subject: Code of conduct for EU companies operating in LDCs

The Spanish Senate recently adopted a motion with a view to the establishment of a code of conduct in
respect of the working conditions of workers employed by Spanish-owned undertakings in third-world
countries, in order to combat the hyperexploitation of the workforce (e.g. by outlawing child labour and
introducing a maximum working week). In addition, the European Parliament’s Committee on Develop-
ment and Cooperation has begun work on an own-initiative report on working conditions in Community
undertakings carrying out their activities in LDCs.

How have these initiatives been received by the Commission?

Does the Commission intend to submit a proposal for a code of conduct in respect of working conditions
in undertakings based in the Member States carrying out their activities in LDCs?

Does the Commission consider it desirable to include this subject as an item in the post-Lomé negotiations
which are due to begin in September 1998?

Answer given by Mr Pinheiro on behalf of the Commission

(24 September 1998)

Improving living and working conditions in the developing countries has always been a concern of the
Commission, which follows with interest the various initiatives under way in the matter and values, in
particular, the efforts made to draw up voluntary codes of conduct. The Commission, which is involved in
the efforts of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to revise the
guidelines for multinational enterprises, is trying to foster a coordinated approach by the Member States
and the Commission in this sphere. It nevertheless believes it vital that such issues be incorporated into the
developing countries’ own legislation

Community policies address this issue from various angles. The social incentives recently introduced into
the scheme of generalised tariff preferences are just one example. This scheme allows further preferences
to be granted to beneficiary countries effectively applying the basic labour rights enshrined in Interna-
tional Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions Nos 87, 98 and 138. These arrangements amply reflect the
Commission’s chosen strategy of positive incentives in the sphere, the aim being to treat labour issues as
aspects of development cooperation policy rather than the protectionist means of coercion clearly rejected
at the Singapore ministerial conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Community policy also encompasses a wide range of activities likely to help defend labour rights, notably
support for trade unions and grants in the social sectors. Moreover, all cooperation agreements between
the Community and developing countries now expressly cite commitments made at the Copenhagen social
development summit alongside human rights and democratic principles. They include not only agree-
ments with developing countries in Asia, Latin America and the Mediterranean region but the future
partnership agreement with the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, which, according to the
negotiating directives adopted by the Council on 29 June, must specifically mention respect for
fundamental labour rights reflecting the principles set out in the relevant ILO conventions.