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C 58 E/164

Official Journal of the European Union

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6.3.2004

(2004/C 58 E/177)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-2368/03

by Jorge Hernández Mollar (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(17 July 2003)

Subject: EU accession to the repopulation programme for the Iberian lynx

The Iberian lynx is in serious danger of extinction: only 200 individuals remain in all of Andalusia, concentrated in the Doñana and the Sierra de Andújar. Breeding cubs in captivity will not solve the problem, but is at present the most practical option.

The Spanish central government and the Andalusian regional government have therefore, as promised, signed an agreement for the protection of the lynx. This agreement brings together all of the existing unilateral initiatives.

Can the Commission state in what ways it would be willing to promote this agreement for the protection of the Iberian lynx, and what form its aid could take?

Answer given by Mrs Wallström on behalf of the Commission

(10 September 2003)

The Agreement between the Spanish Ministry of Environment and the Regional Government of Andalucía for the conservation of the Iberian Lynx was published in the Spanish Official gazette on 11 July 2003 (Resolución de 23 de junio de 2003, de la Secretaría General de Medio Ambiente, por la que se dispone la publicación del Convenio de Colaboración suscrito entre el Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y la Junta de Andalucía para el desarrollo de un único programa coordinado de actuaciones para la aplicación de la Estrategia Nacional de Conservación del Lince en Andalucía).

The main objective of the Agreement is to maintain and to increase the efforts for the development of a programme for the conservation of the Iberian Lynx in Andalucía.

Article 3 of the Agreement identifies on-going initiatives. One of these initiatives is the LIFE Nature programme for the conservation of the Iberian Lynx in Andalucía. There is also another LIFE Nature programme for the conservation of the Iberian Lynx in Castilla-La Mancha. The Commission is following these two LIFE projects and participating in certain co-ordination meetings.

(2004/C 58 E/178)

WRITTEN

QUESTION E-2398/03

by Monica Frassoni (Verts/ALE) to the Commission

(21 July 2003)

Subject: Structural assistance for Valencia and the Ebro transfer

According to the Court of Auditors’ Special Report No 7/2003, ten regions would not have been eligible for Objective 1 assistance under the Structural Funds 2000-2006 had more recent statistics (1996, 1997, 1998) been used, since their GDP was more than 75 % of the Community average. The Autonomous Community of Valencia is one of those regions.

This is a serious situation because:

(a)

in the more developed areas of the Spain’s eastern seaboard like Valencia, the high level of undeclared labour (the highest in Spain and even in Europe at percentages of over 30 %) tends to deflate the real income level ( 1 ), meaning that the actual level of development is even higher than is suggested by the statistics, regardless of whether or not they are up-to-date;

(b)

the fact that the highest rates of undeclared labour are in developed areas such as Valencia testifies to a degree of misgovernment which is now also being reflected in the application for EU funding for the project to transfer water from the River Ebro to eastern seaboard areas. Valencia which has already received funding to which it is not entitled and which has used this to promote activities that call for

6.3.2004

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Official Journal of the European Union

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an increasing and unsustainable supply of water and generate illegal employment could soon receive fresh funding for the construction of the transfer infrastructures, while the areas in Aragon and Catalonia (Lower Ebro) that would provide the water for the transfer, and are poorer than those that would receive it, have not been granted the same assistance as the eastern seaboard areas.

1. What political justification can the Commission give for Valencia receiving this assistance simply as

the result of statistical error?

2. Does it intend to request repayment of the funding allocated to Valencia for the period 2000-2006?

3. If not, how does it intend to restore equity in the distribution of funding?

4. Does it not feel that the advantageous and unjustified assistance enjoyed by Valencia should be borne

in mind when it comes to authorising investment as controversial as the investment in the Ebro transfer, especially in circumstances where, instead of reducing regional imbalances, the transfers policy will exacerbate imbalances between the inland regions of Spain and those on its eastern seaboard?

( 1 ) In a report prepared for the European Commission (S. Mateman and P.H. Renooy ‘Undeclared labour in Europe Towards an integrated approach of combating undeclared labour’, Regioplan Research, Advice and Information, Amsterdam, October 2001), the scale of the black economy in Spain is estimated at between 15 % and 20 % of the country’s gross domestic product, which is well below the European average of 9 %. Spain’s eastern seaboard has

(Spanish

Economic and Social Council ‘La economía sumergida en relación con la quinta recomendación del Pacto de

the highest rates of illegal employment: Murcia 32 %, Andalusia 29 %, Community of Valencia 24 %

Toledo’, CES Reports, Madrid, 1999).

Answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission

(3 October 2003)

The process for determining eligibility for Objective 1 for the 2000-2006 period is set out in Article 3, paragraph 1 of Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 ( 1 ). The basic criterion is that a region’s gross domestic product (GDP) per head in purchasing power parities should be below 75 % of the Community average, using ‘Community figures for the last three years available on 26 March 1999’. The Regulation therefore identifies a fixed date for the examination of data relating to the decision on eligibility.

Once established, the list of eligible regions remains in force for the entire programming period and data available after that date cannot be taken into consideration. As of 26 March 1999, the last three years for which data were available were 1994, 1995 and 1996. On this basis, Valencia was below the 75 % threshold. The data were subsequently revised, and as a result the figure for Valencia moved marginally above the 75 % for the same three years.

Such retrospective revisions are an integral part of the statistical work carried out by Eurostat in partnership with the national statistical institutes. There is, however, no legal basis for reviewing eligibility for Objective 1 or for requesting repayment of disbursed funds.

The content of interventions is negotiated between the Commission and the Member State, and a programme of interventions is agreed. It is not legally possible nor practically feasible to establish a link between the content of programmes and potential retrospective revision of data on GDP per head. This would undermine the stability and long-term nature of the programming, which is a key element of European regional policy.

The Commission points out that all requests for Structural Fund assistance to projects are assessed in the context of the criteria laid down in the Operational Programme in question and with due regard to all applicable Community legislation.

( 1 ) Council Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999 of 21 June 1999 laying down general provisions on the Structural Funds, OJ L 161, 26.6.1999.