Indeks 
 Poprzedni 
 Następny 
 Pełny tekst 
Debaty
Wtorek, 24 kwiecień 2007 r. - Strasburg Wersja poprawiona

12. Czas na zapytania (zapytania do Komisji)
PV
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Segue-se o período de perguntas (B6-0017/2007).

Foram apresentadas as seguintes perguntas à Comissão.

Primeira parte

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Pergunta nº 42 do Deputado Alain Hutchinson (H-0212/07)

Assunto: Chantagem sobre os operários da VW Forest - as deslocalizações invertidas

Condicionando a manutenção da actividade na fábrica da Volkswagen de Forest a um aumento das horas de trabalho sem aumento de salários e a uma maior flexibilidade, os dirigentes desta fábrica chantagearam os trabalhadores com o seu emprego. Os trabalhadores não tinham outra escolha senão aceitar, ou a fábrica fecharia as portas. Na sua resolução de 14 de Março de 2006 sobre as deslocalizações no contexto do desenvolvimento regional, o Parlamento Europeu solicita que sejam previstas medidas contra este tipo de chantagem com o emprego que pode ser qualificado de "deslocalização invertida", dado que tem por consequência baixar as condições de trabalho sem deslocação da actividade da empresa.

A Comissão pode indicar as medidas que irá propor para evitar as deslocalizações invertidas que acarretam uma deterioração das condições de trabalho sem deslocação da actividade da empresa?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Vladimír Špidla, člen Komise. Vážený pane předsedající, vážené dámy poslankyně, vážení páni poslanci.

Podle současných právních předpisů Společenství přísluší Komisi vyjadřovat se k rozhodnutím přijatým společnostmi a zasahovat do jednání mezi sociálními partnery pouze v případě, že dojde k porušení právních předpisů Společenství.

Evropská unie může nicméně přispět k přípravě na změny a restrukturalizace a k jejich odpovědnému řízení, a to díky jejím strukturálním fondům a především díky Evropskému sociálnímu fondu. Komise ostatně zavedla politický dialog v rámci fóra restrukturalizace s cílem rozvinout výměnu zkušeností a osvědčených postupů mezi hlavními aktéry. Především mezi vládami, sociálními partnery a regiony.

Unie má také právní rámec pro oblast informovanosti zaměstnanců a projednávání s nimi. Připomínám proto, že existují různá opatření týkající se oprávnění a řízení restrukturalizací a především směrnic o hromadném propouštění, o přesunu společností, o evropských radách zaměstnanců a směrnice zřizující obecný rámec pro informování zaměstnanců a projednávání s nimi.

Je třeba zajistit dodržování právních předpisů Společenství v oblasti informování zaměstnanců a projednávání s nimi. Zdůrazňuji však, že zajistit provedení právních předpisů Společenství je v prvé řadě úkolem členských států.

Komise navíc plně respektuje zásadu autonomie sociálních partnerů a zdůrazňuje zásadní roli sociálního dialogu při řešení otázek týkajících se organizace práce a pracovních vztahů. V této souvislosti hrají evropské rady zaměstnanců důležitou roli při podpoře sociálního dialogu na nadnárodní úrovni a na úrovni společnosti.

V roce 2003 přijali sociální partneři na evropské úrovni referenční zásady pro řízení změny a jejich sociálních důsledků. Komise podporuje sociální partnery v šíření a zavádění těchto zásad v celé Evropské unii.

Dámy a pánové, děkuji vám za pozornost.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Alain Hutchinson (PSE). – Monsieur le Président, je remercie le Commissaire, pour sa réponse. Je rappellerai simplement que j'avais posé cette question dans un cadre un peu particulier, celui des événements chez Volkswagen. Mais ce qui s'est passé chez Volkswagen se passe tous les jours sur le territoire de l'Union. Les délocalisations sont monnaie courante aujourd'hui. On ne parle que des plus importantes mais il y en a tout le temps. Récemment encore, en Belgique, dans mon pays, Opel a décidé de licencier des milliers de travailleurs. Tel est le résultat d'une politique économique très, très agressive.

Vous vous rappelez certainement, Monsieur le Commissaire, que nous avons voté ici, à une très large majorité, une résolution sur les délocalisations qui ne vise pas à les empêcher, parce qu'on ne pourrait pas le faire, mais qui vise en tout cas à ce que l'argent public ne serve pas à les favoriser. Quand je dis argent public, je pense essentiellement aux fonds structurels.

Je voulais vous demander s'il est possible d'obtenir la liste des entreprises qui délocalisent, avec les sanctions qui leur ont été éventuellement appliquées.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Vladimír Špidla, člen Komise. Vážený pane poslanče, zaznamenal jsem Vaši otázku. Samozřejmě v daném okamžiku nemám potřebné informace k dispozici, ale pověřím svůj servis, abychom je v rozumné době a v rozumné struktuře získali. Děkuji.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Jörg Leichtfried (PSE). – Herr Kommissar! Ich möchte die Frage etwas allgemeiner stellen. Sie haben vorhin in einer ersten Antwort erwähnt, dass Sie als Kommissar Hüter der Gesetze und Verträge sind. Sie kommen nicht darum herum, das ist mir klar, aber Sie sind ja auch Initiator von Gesetzen. Es würde mich deshalb interessieren, ob es aus Ihrer Sicht nicht sinnvoll wäre, wenn die Kommission endlich einen Weg einschlagen würde, bei dem nicht nur Gesetze für die großen Unternehmen, für die Wirtschaft und für alle davon im großen Rahmen Profitierenden gemacht werden, sondern auch Gesetze für Arbeitnehmerinnen und Arbeitnehmer, damit diese Dinge in Zukunft etwas seltener vorkommen.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Vladimír Špidla, člen Komise. Samozřejmě, že Komise může iniciovat zákony v rámci těch pravomocí, které má k dispozici, a to také v každém případě činí.

Já mohu třeba uvést debatu o optickém záření, která byla úspěšně ukončena, protože to je typický příklad bezpečnosti a ochrany zdraví při práci ve prospěch zaměstnanců. Stejně tak některé jiné směrnice, které jsou buď teď projednávány nebo projednány už byly. V každém případě to pole, které dává možnost pro sociální legislativu, považuji za nutné využívat velmi aktivně.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danutė Budreikaitė (ALDE). – Įmonių iškėlimas dažnai yra traktuojamas kaip globalizacijos padarinys. Ir tai yra normalu. Mums, naujoms valstybėms, buvo paaiškinta, kad mes nesupratome, jog turime savo tekstilės įmones iškelti į trečiąsias šalis ir neturėtumėm problemų.

Mano klausimas – žiūrėti plačiame kontekste. Juk žemė apvali kai mes viska kažkur iškelsim, kažkas turės pas mus atsikelti. Kaip mes mąstome? Ar neturėtumėme turėti bendros pramonės politikos? Į kokias šakas turėtumėme investuoti, kad nereikėtų iškelti.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Vladimír Špidla, člen Komise. Vážená paní poslankyně, podle mého názoru debata, kterou jste otevřela, směřuje spíš k debatě o restrukturalizaci než o pouhé delokalizaci, přemísťování podniků.

Chci konstatovat, že seriózní výzkumy ukazují, že delokalizace v tom klasickém smyslu, jaký chápeme, představuje přibližně méně než dvě procenta změn pracovních míst za rok v Evropské unii. Čili je to z hlediska celkového pohybu pracovních sil relativně nepříliš velký rozsah. Na druhé straně jsou to dvě procenta v rámci Evropské unie, a to jsou desítky tisíc lidí. To není žádná věc, kterou bychom mohli považovat za bezvýznamnou.

Otázka, kterou jste položila, je otázka restrukturalizace. Tento svět se stále mění a celá řada podniků restrukturalizuje. V této záležitosti je přístup Komise aktivní, touto otázkou se rovněž zabývá fórum restrukturalizace, které řeší otázky, jak tyto restrukturalizace co nejlépe sociálně a ekonomicky doprovázet a stejně tak se zabývá hledáním perspektiv.

Já mohu konstatovat, že některé věci, které se zdánlivě zdají předem dané, tak dané nejsou. Protože ačkoliv existovala a stále existuje skutečně silná restrukturalizace v oblasti textilního průmyslu, přesto v rámci textilního průmyslu řada firem, zejména ve Švédsku, ale i v jiných částech světa, našla v rámci textilu své uplatnění. Zejména při výrobě vysoce náročných technických tkanin.

Stejně tak se nepochybně značný prostor otevírá v oblasti ekologické výroby, ekologického strojírenství apod. Ale v každém případě nemohu teď dávat nějaké přesné návrhy a přesné představy. Pouze lze konstatovat, že na jedné straně existují podniky, které jsou v útlumu, a obory, které jsou v útlumu, na druhé straně existují v rámci těchto oborů oblasti, které jsou v rychlém rozvoji a dokonce i nové oblasti, jako např. oblast ekologických technologií.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente.

Pergunta nº 43 do Deputado Ignasi Guardans Cambó (H-0244/07)

Assunto: Riscos de arbitrariedade e contradição na aplicação das novas medidas de segurança aérea

No passado dia 6 de Novembro de 2006 entrou em vigor o Regulamento (CE) n° 1546/2006(1) que modifica o Regulamento (CE) n° 622/2003(2) em matéria de segurança aérea. Tendo em conta o carácter sigiloso do anexo que estabelece as novas medidas de segurança e a inexistência de instruções claras sobre a aplicação das medidas, poderá a Comissão Europeia informar sobre os riscos de este secretismo poder dar origem a uma multiplicidade de interpretações na aplicação das medidas, não apenas entre os Estados-Membros mas também entre aeroportos de um mesmo Estado-Membro?

Procedeu a Comissão a uma análise sobre a aplicação destas medidas nos aeroportos da UE?

Que medidas pensa tomar a Comissão para evitar uma disparidade de aplicação destas medidas nos aeroportos europeus que poderia afectar os direitos dos passageiros europeus?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. Firstly, I should like to thank the honourable Member for raising this question on this most interesting subject: we are all air travellers ourselves, so we very often come across these regulations.

While studying the records of the European Parliament, I noticed that there have been several oral questions on the topic of EU restrictions on the liquids which passengers may carry onto aircraft. The Commission answered Parliament in detail at its sitting of 12 February.

As you will know, I am not the Commissioner with primary expertise in this field and, therefore, I would humbly suggest that the answers already given by my more knowledgeable colleagues on this matter are sufficient. Nevertheless, to summarise the answers to previous questions, it must be said that, in spite of the legislation being classified as EU-restricted as required by Article 8(1) of framework Regulation (EC) No 2320/2003, the rules on liquids are being applied by the Member States in a proper and equal manner throughout the Community. The responsibility for applying the rules lies with the Member States and the Commission monitors this via its regular inspections.

If, however, the honourable Member wishes to have additional information on this question, I would propose that he raises his questions during the debate on aviation security. Coincidentally, this debate takes place tonight and my colleague Mr Barrot, the Vice-President with responsibilities for transport, will be present.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Ignasi Guardans Cambó (ALDE). – Mr President, the Commissioner’s colleague is avoiding this question and will answer neither tonight nor at any other time.

The Commission to which you and the other Commissioners belong approved a secret regulation which imposes restrictions on citizens and creates an arbitrary situation. When citizens go to the airport, they are like schoolchildren before an authoritarian master whom they need to obey. We are faced with the application of a secret regulation and have no chance to complain. The consequence is that there are different interpretations of the regulation throughout Europe. What is forbidden in one airport is allowed in another. Therefore, you did not get the result intended by the Commission to which you and the other Commissioners belong. You may trust your fellow Commissioners of course but you are equally responsible.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. As I said in my original answer, I am an air traveller myself, so I often have mixed feelings, but it does not change the whole picture. First of all: why is it necessary to have secret regulations? The rules on aviation security, including those adopted in Regulation (EC) No 1546/2006, are not placed in the public domain because potential terrorists could use the information for their purposes.

The European Commission aviation security legislation is classified as ‘EU restricted’ in line with Commission Decision 2001/844/EC, ECSC, Euratom. How are our airports and airlines supposed to apply regulations – which are directly applicable rules – that are secret? The regulations on aviation security are addressed to the appropriate authority of each Member State. They have an obligation under Article 81 of framework Regulation (EC) No 2320/2002 to communicate the information to interested parties on a need-to-know basis in accordance with applicable national rules for the dissemination of sensitive information. Thus airport security staff will get clear instructions on their obligations, not from the Official Journal of the European Union, but from the appropriate national authority.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Reinhard Rack (PPE-DE). – Herr Kommissar! Sie haben bereits darauf hingewiesen, dass uns Ihr Kollege Barrot die Antworten später geben wird. Ich darf aber in aller Deutlichkeit nochmals auf eines hinweisen: Es sind jetzt sechs Monate vergangen, seit die neuen Regeln eingeführt wurden. An keinem einzigen Tag dieser sechs Monate hat es irgendeine Erfolgsmeldung gegeben, dass diese Maßnahme eine terroristische Aktivität verhindert oder behindert hätte. An jedem einzelnen Tag hatten wir jedoch Hunderte von Meldungen, wonach sich europäische Bürger beschwert fühlen. Da kann doch etwas nicht stimmen! Können Sie eine Überprüfung und eine Rücknahme dieser Maßnahmen in Aussicht stellen bzw. dem Kommissar Barrot das in geeigneter Weise mitteilen?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. Yes, I do think that the fact that there has been no reported terrorist attempt is a success in itself, because, if you cannot take more liquid than 100 ml – which, according to the experts, is not sufficient to create explosive materials – then terrorists are possibly not trying to violate this regulation. So that could explain why no terrorist attempt has been reported.

As far as complaints are concerned, I can confirm this because many times at the airport I have listened to debates and quarrels between security officials and passengers, but I have the feeling and the experience that the situation has become more relaxed and now goes more smoothly than it did at the very beginning of the new regulations.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Justas Vincas Paleckis (PSE). – Visi mes esame situacijos Europos oro uostuose ekspertai. Tačiau kai kuriuose Europos Sąjungos oro uostuose tos pačios saugumo procedūros atliekamos mandagiai, greitai, patogiai, o kituose – didžiausios eiles, į kiekvieną žiūrima kaip į potencialų teroristą.

Galbūt Europos Komisija galėtų paruošti taisykles, rekomendacijas, pasinaudojant geriausiais pavyzdžiais, kaip visgi mandagiai ir saugiai aptarnauti keleivius.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. I have had similar experiences of uncivilised behaviour by security officials outside the European Union. However, I do not think that the European Union, the Commission or any other Union institution can have any impact on the behaviour of countries outside the European Union.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Pergunta nº 44 do Deputado Jacek Protasiewicz (H-0265/07)

Assunto: Aplicação das normas em matéria de auxílios estatais para apoiar o emprego de pessoas deficientes

Tendo em conta a experiência adquirida até hoje com a aplicação pelos Estados-Membros das medidas de apoio ao emprego de pessoas deficientes em conformidade com o Regulamento (CE) nº 2204/2002(3), e em referência às alterações à legislação relativa aos auxílios estatais planeadas pela Comissão (plano de acção relativo aos auxílios estatais), tenciona a Comissão alterar, no futuro, as normas relativas ao controlo do apoio ao emprego de tais trabalhadores, juntamente com os requisitos para os programas isentos de notificação obrigatória ao abrigo das isenções por categorias, e introduzir medidas que permitam determinar os custos adicionais decorrentes do emprego de pessoas deficientes numa base de taxa fixa, no respeito dos princípios do mercado comum?

A Comissão considera que o apoio dado actualmente aos empresários que empregam pessoas deficientes deve, no futuro, ser tratado como auxílio estatal?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. The experience gained from the application of Regulation (EC) No 2204/2002 is currently being used by the Commission in order to establish revised rules applying to aid for employment of disabled workers in the context of the preparation of a new Commission regulation, which will revise, consolidate, simplify and harmonise the existing block exemption regulations.

This new regulation, which forms part of the implementation of the state aid action plan, will replace existing instruments, including Regulation (EC) No 2204/2002. The Commission adopted a first draft of the regulation just today. This will allow the Commission to consult Member States and listen to the views of other interested stakeholders, including the European Parliament, in the coming months, in line with the procedure established by Council Regulation (EC) No 994/98 on the application of Articles 92 and 93 of the Treaty establishing the European Community to certain categories of horizontal state aid.

Block exemption regulations only apply to measures which constitute state aid within the meaning of Article 87 of the EC Treaty. The fact that Regulation (EC) No 2204/2002 includes provisions on employment aid in favour of disabled workers does not mean that all state measures in favour of disabled workers are to be considered as state aid. As made clear in recital 6 of Regulation (EC) No 2204/2002, some state measures in favour of disabled workers do not qualify as state aid, for instance because they are general in nature. Such measures will continue not to be considered as state aid in the future.

The purpose of the block exemption is to ensure that Member States are not obliged to notify the Commission of those state measures which do indeed constitute state aid under Article 88 of the EC Treaty, as long as the aid measure concerned fulfils a number of conditions as specified in the regulations.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Jacek Protasiewicz (PPE-DE). – Panie Przewodniczący! Dziękuję Panie Komisarzu. Problem w tym, że brak pewności prawnej w niektórych państwach członkowskich, w tym w moim kraju, sprawia, iż po wejściu Polski do Unii Europejskiej liczba firm i przedsiębiorstw zainteresowanych zatrudnieniem osób niepełnosprawnych radykalnie spadła, ze względu na obawy dotyczące przekroczenia dopuszczalnego poziomu pomocy publicznej.

Dlatego chciałbym raz jeszcze zapytać o tę sprawę. Podzielam kierunek pracy, który zmierza do tego, żeby bardzo klarownie powiedzieć, iż zatrudnianie osób niepełnosprawnych, niezależnie od miejsca, w którym się ono odbywa, niezależnie od branży, w jakiej są oni zatrudniani, nie jest traktowane przez Komisję jako pomoc publiczna, lecz jako zastępczy środek aktywizacji zawodowej tych osób, które w innym przypadku pozostawałyby na marginesie aktywności społecznej.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. State support measures in favour of disabled workers will, like any other support measure, only be considered as state aid if the measure fulfils all the conditions of Article 87(1) of the EC Treaty. This implies, amongst other things, that if the aid is granted to disabled individuals and not to companies, the measure is not state aid. Similarly, any measure in favour of disabled workers which does not affect trade between Member States, for instance because it is considered as ‘de minimis’, does not fall foul of the Treaty rules.

 
  
  

Segunda parte

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Pergunta nº 45 do Deputado Martin Dimitrov (H-0219/07)

Assunto: Alteração da Directiva 92/84/CEE com vista ao aumento das taxas mínimas de imposto especial sobre as bebidas alcoólicas

A Comissão Europeia propõe (COM(2006)0486 – C6-0319/2006 – 2006/0165(CNS)) alterar a Directiva 92/84/CEE(4) com vista ao aumento das taxas mínimas de imposto especial sobre as bebidas alcoólicas. Esta proposta baseia-se no argumento de que, desde 1992, não se tem verificado um ajustamento das taxas mínimas de imposto especial à inflação, que entretanto atingiu os 31%.

Importa notar que, ao longo dos últimos 15 anos, a existência de taxas mínimas não levou à convergência das taxas de imposto especial na UE. As elevadas taxas de imposto especial sobre as bebidas alcoólicas constituem o principal motivo do contrabando e incentivam o seu aumento, particularmente, na Europa de Leste. A tributação da produção nacional de rakia, por exemplo, foi introduzida na Bulgária, causando um descontentamento significativo entre a população.

Considera a Comissão que, tendo em conta as diferenças salariais significativas na UE, especialmente após os dois últimos alargamentos, devem continuar a existir taxas mínimas de imposto especial sobre os produtos alcoólicos?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. I would inform the honourable Member that I consider that the minimum rates of excise duty on alcoholic products should continue. As I said in my press statement when the proposal was presented on 8 September 2006, the minimum rates are the cornerstone of the EU excise duty system, which was agreed in 1992 as the minimum necessary for the functioning of the internal market. Revalorising them is a necessary step to restore the position to that which was agreed in 1992.

I agree that greater convergence of the rates of excise duty in the different Member States is needed so as to reduce distortions of competition and fraud. However, as the honourable Member will be aware, without the agreement of all the Member States nothing can change. But to simply conclude, as the honourable Member suggests, that this is a reason for abolishing the minimum rate does not seem to be the appropriate solution in view of the need for some harmonisation within the common market, and is therefore not a viable proposal.

I would like to provide some more information on the issue. At the Council meeting, we found strong resistance from many new Member States, which claimed that they had nothing to do with the point of departure in 1993 when they were not part of the European Union. Together with the Presidency, we therefore presented a compromise proposal. In the compromise proposal, the point of departure was changed to 1 May 2004, the date of accession of the 10 new Member States. That immediately resulted in a much lower rate of inflation: instead of 31%, the new proposed rate is only 4.5%. That was the new proposal, but it was also vetoed by one Member State: the Czech Republic.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Proinsias De Rossa (PSE). – Mr President, it is not a point of order, but I was wondering whether Question 46 will be replied to in the House today, because, if not, I should like to ask a supplementary question to this particular question.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Le Président. – La question 46 a été retirée.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Мартин Димитров (PPE-DE). – Господин Ковач, уважаеми г-н Председател, не съм доволен от Вашия отговор. Оставам с впечатлението, че Вие сте решили да увеличите всички нива на акцизите. Вече има Ваши предложения за по-високи акцизи върху алкохолните продукти и върху дизела. Нивата на доходи в страни като България и Румъния са повече от десет пъти по-ниски в сравнение със „старите“ страни-членки на Европейския съюз. Това създава непропорционално по-висока данъчна тежест и сериозни стимули за неплащане на данъци и „сива“ икономика. Така че тези идеи за увеличение на акцизното облагане ще доведат до още по-сериозни протести, протести които вече са факт в България. Имаше митинги, имаше подписки срещу увеличението на акцизното облагане. Предложенията, които Вие сте внесли, не са обосновани. Не виждам икономическата логика зад тях. Те ще доведат единствено до още по-високи стимули за неплащане на данъци. Например, вземете предвид, че за 15 години акцизните ставки върху алкохолните продукти не са довели до сближаване на нивата. За 15 години. Така че това, което правите няма да има ефект.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. My understanding is that the Commission is aware of the problems in the new Member States. Before joining the European Union, they had to accept the acquis communautaire and had to apply minimum rates, although they received some derogations. It is now quite difficult for the new Member States, including Bulgaria, to raise the minimum excise duty on alcoholic beverages.

We therefore presented a proposal to the Council, which was made in general terms without any specific figures. Following a decision by the Council, we agreed that any Member States – without specifying whether they were new or old Member States – that find it difficult to increase the excise duty, may apply for a derogation. Bulgaria and Romania were not members of the European Union at that time but this certainly applies to those two countries. Therefore, if Bulgaria has any difficulty in complying with the regulation which was adopted at that time, it may request a derogation which I am certain the Commission will support.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Excepcionalmente aceito três perguntas complementares, em conformidade com a troca de impressões que tive com o Deputado De Rossa.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  John Purvis (PPE-DE). – Commissioner, you and I have sparred on this issue several times in the past, but you will accept that the huge divergence around Europe in excise rates on alcoholic beverages and other excisable products is one of the major stumbling blocks to providing for a proper single market in Europe.

Would you agree that increasing minimum rates by any percentage on excise duties that are zero in some countries ends up in a zero increase, so the divergence gets even bigger? Are you not aiming at an impossible target, and would not the best thing be to eliminate minimum rates altogether and allow the free market to operate freely in commercial and personal-use products?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. If I understood you correctly, your proposal or idea would refer not only to alcoholic beverages but to all excise duty. But even if you did not mean that, if we did decide to abolish the minimum rate on alcoholic beverages, that would have an impact on the excise duty on energy and tobacco products.

I do not think it could be a solution, because if there were no minimum rate that would inspire some Member States to opt for very low or no excise duty at all. That in turn would generate more smuggling and more cross-border shopping, which would certainly result in further distortion in the internal market. I understand the logic of your thinking, but I do not think that it would solve the problem. On the contrary, it would create further distortions in the internal market.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danutė Budreikaitė (ALDE). – Aš nemanau, kad žemi akcizai ar akcizų nebuvimas padidintų kontrabandą. Kaip tik aukšti akcizai leidžia kontrabandos srautus atplaukti iš rytų valstybių, kur tų akcizų nėra ir alkoholis yra pigus.

Jeigu kalbame plačiąja prasme apie akcizus ir degalams, ir kitiems produktams, tai akcizo kurui sumažinimas kaip tik padidintų ekonomiką, jos augimą, konkurencingumą.

Mano klausimas būtų platesnis, ar neatrodo, kad diskutuodami apie akcizus alkoholiui, mes turėtumėme galvoti, kaip šviesti visuomenę, kad ji kuo mažiau naudotų šito produkto, nes dabar ypatingai daug alkoholio vartoja jaunimas.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. Mr President, there are different considerations with regard to the excise duties on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products, for instance health considerations. Many Member States do not want a low rate of excise duty because of health factors, and I understand their point of view.

As far as energy is concerned, if we do not increase the rate of excise duty on certain energy products like fuels, this would result in more fuel consumption, which would lead to more pollution as well as adding to the additional danger of climate change. Therefore, excise duty plays an important role in not only improving the internal market but also in other areas such as health, climate change and environmental factors. If we have an excise duty in place, then it is quite logical to set a minimum rate below which no Member State can go.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Proinsias De Rossa (PSE). – Mr President, I wanted to raise a question with regard to question 46 and I would ask Commissioner Kovács: in relation to tax issues, what plans or powers does the Commission have to be able to force a country like Ireland, for instance, to increase its corporate tax base? I take it your answer will be that you have none. However, I would really appreciate it if you would put on record the powers and plans the Commission has to force an increase in corporate tax rates on Ireland.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  László Kovács, Member of the Commission. The question has nothing to do with the issue we are discussing, but I am pleased to hear your questions and to have the possibility of answering them.

First, I want to clarify that the Commission is not even dreaming of increasing or harmonising the corporate tax rate – that is very far from our intention. What we have in mind, and what we have already tabled as a general proposal – not even a legislative proposal – is the harmonisation of the tax base only, i.e. the calculation of the tax base, which is now different in each and every Member State. We have 27 different ways of calculating the tax base, which results in enormous compliance costs and administrative burdens for companies. The lack of consolidation and of transparency makes it very difficult, or senseless, to compare the corporate tax rate of Ireland, which is 12.5 %, with the corporate tax rate of France, which is over 30 %, because we cannot compare the two tax bases.

We have no intention of harmonising the tax rates, only the method of calculation of the tax base, and certainly we have no power to force things. If the present legislative proposal, according to our time schedule, receives unanimity in early 2008, then of course Ireland, and all the other Member States, should comply. If there is no consensus – and I think that at least at the beginning there will be no consensus – then what we can do is to present a new proposal, not for all the 27 Member States but only for those who want to join. That is what we call enhanced cooperation. Enhanced cooperation is optional. Only those Member States that agree with the purpose of the exercise would participate, and Ireland, according to the best of my knowledge, will not be among the countries that will champion participation.

However, I believe that after a while, when the positive experiences are well known, then even those Member States that are reluctant for the time being and that will not join at the beginning of the enhanced cooperation can join later, because one of the conditions of enhanced cooperation is to leave the door open for other Member States who may wish to join in at a later stage.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Carl Schlyter (Verts/ALE). – Jag begärde att få ordet angående fråga 45, dvs. innan De Rossa fick ordet. Jag fick dock inte chancen att ställa min fråga till Kovács som gällde den fråga som vi faktiskt diskuterade här, nämligen fråga 45 om punktskatter på alkohol.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Como saberá, a Mesa apenas aceita duas perguntas complementares. Excepcionalmente aceitei três dado que o Deputado De Rossa estava preparado para intervir noutra pergunta, que entretanto tinha sido retirada. A amabilidade do Senhor Comissário Kovács permitiu que a questão do Deputado De Rossa fosse respondida.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Pergunta nº 47 do Deputado Gianluca Susta (H-0216/07)

Assunto: Inscrições nas Escolas Europeias

Decorre actualmente a campanha de inscrições nas Escolas Europeias de Bruxelas, cuja gestão está a cargo da Autoridade Central para a Inscrição (ACI).

Na realidade, esta Autoridade é praticamente uma ficção, pois carece de pessoal e de meios. Em particular, não recolhe as informações necessárias para um controlo efectivo dos dados relativos às inscrições, presentes e futuras (por exemplo, não refere o número de irmãos a inscrever nos próximos anos). Por outro lado, a campanha de informação é deficiente e, entre outros aspectos, não é emitido às famílias um recibo das inscrições efectuadas.

Não considera a Comissão que, uma vez mais, a falta de profissionalismo do Secretariado Geral das Escolas Europeias e a negligência dos serviços competentes da DG ADMIN poderão tornar inútil a vontade do Conselho Superior de garantir um processo de inscrição transparente e imparcial e, sobretudo, comprometer possíveis melhorias da política de inscrições no futuro?

Que medidas tenciona a Comissão tomar para que a ocupação de Berkendael não seja um malogro?

Que medidas tenciona tomar para que seja possível recorrer para a Câmara de Resolução de Conflitos das Escolas Europeias para impugnar as decisões em matéria de inscrições, com base num fundamento legal concreto, já na presente campanha de inscrições?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. The subject of the European schools is one of the most complicated issues in my portfolio.

The Board of Governors of the European Schools created a Central Enrolment Authority in order to deal with the very difficult situation caused by the host country concerning the offer of a site for the fourth school in Brussels. The Commission has constantly worked in favour of a clear and objective enrolment policy with the necessary degree of flexibility and with the possibility for parents to appeal.

The Commission has also kept parents and their representatives regularly informed during the school year. Therefore, the Commission does not share the opinion of the honourable Member that it has neglected its responsibilities.

As clearly stipulated by the Board of Governors in its communication adopted in January 2007, the enrolment policy for 2007-2008 will apply for this school year only. The enrolment policy for next year will be based on an in-depth analysis and the close monitoring of the situation during and after the first year of functioning of the Berkendael European School. The policy will also take into account all the pertinent elements and the progress of the pupils of the different European schools in Brussels during the 2007-2008 school year.

The Secretary-General of the European Schools prepared clear procedures for individual appeals and submitted a proposal to the Board of Governors to be approved at its April meeting, in order to give parents the possibility to make appeals during the current enrolment campaign. A proposal to modify the general rules of the European Schools in order to extend the powers of the Complaints Board to decisions related to enrolment was discussed by the Mixed Pedagogical Committee in March 2007, the Administrative and Financial Committee on 19 to 21 March 2007 and the Central Enrolment Authority on 28 March before being submitted to the Board of Governors on 17 April.

Prior to the submission of the proposal to the Board of Governors, the Commission requested that the necessary measures should be taken to ensure that deadlines for replying to the appeals are compatible with the calendar of the beginning of the next school year. The Commission is pleased that an interim ruling was adopted by the Board of Governors on 17 and 18 April and that shorter deadlines for the potential lodging of appeals by parents have been set. During that meeting, the Commission nevertheless insisted that an evaluation of the changes to procedures and to the necessary means of the Complaints Board is carried out as soon as possible in order to meet the requirements associated with the extension of its powers.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Lapo Pistelli (ALDE), Autore supplente. – Signor Presidente, desidero ringraziare il Commissario Kallas.

Volevo chiedere al Commissario se, nel caso in cui la maggioranza dei genitori degli alunni che attualmente dovrebbero andare a Berkendael non desse il proprio assenso all'iscrizione dei figli in questo sito temporaneo, la Commissione intende perseguire ad ogni costo la politica di riempimento del sito di Berkendael? Sono previste alternative? E' ad esempio possibile, come hanno chiesto le associazioni dei genitori, recepire le richieste per un limitato accesso alle scuole storiche di Bruxelles? In caso affermativo, con quali modalità potrebbero essere scelte?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. First of all, I must say that the issue of schools in Brussels is very complicated due to the large increase in pupils in recent years. All the main schools are overcrowded, so, as you probably know, the Belgian authorities have designated an additional site for the next school in Laeken. Berkendael is a temporary site. So far, I have no information that parents have refused to accept the Berkendael site. I know that there have been discussions but, as you know, the European schools are an autonomous entity managed by a Board of Governors, in which all Member States are represented. All alternative sites and any proposals concerning the infrastructure of schools depend on the Belgian authorities, for whom the issue of the social infrastructure for the European institutions has become increasingly difficult.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Richard Seeber (PPE-DE). – Herr Kommissar! Ist Ihnen bekannt, dass es für Eltern, die nicht in den europäischen Institutionen arbeiten, immer schwieriger wird, ihre Kinder in Europäischen Schulen unterzubringen? Dadurch kommt es zu einer gewissen Ghettoisierung, und vor allem geht auch die Akzeptanz in der Brüsseler Bevölkerung weiter zurück.

Zweitens möchte ich Sie fragen, wie man — angesichts der sehr schlechten Infrastruktur im öffentlichen Verkehrswesen — darauf verfallen ist, die vierte Schule in Laeken anzusiedeln. Auch die Busse, die eingerichtet werden, müssen durch die ganze Stadt fahren, und die Schüler verlieren sehr viel Zeit. Warum konnte mit den belgischen Behörden kein besserer Platz gefunden werden?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. We have tried to work with the Belgian authorities to explore all possible sites. There are not too many sites in Brussels which meet all the necessary requirements of this complicated task. So far this has been in the hands of the Belgian authorities: they make proposals for annex sites and temporary sites and we cannot change a lot. We have tried to find other solutions together with the Board of Governors but so far that is fixed by the Belgian authorities.

With regard to category 3 and a possible ‘ghetto’ for European officials in category 3 schools – I am using a particular type of language that is very familiar to me – these are students who are not the children of staff in the European institutions. The children of staff in other international institutions are in what is known as category 2. Category 3 involves free places which are allocated to children of other parents, based on availability. As I said, it is increasingly complicated to provide parents working in our institutions with the necessary places in our childcare facilities and schools. Of course, under this framework of rules and conditions, we must give preference to our own staff - the children of those working in the European institutions. However, I fully agree with you that there is a problem and we must think of ways of developing the European school system. There are some additional ideas on how to make this system more flexible and to develop other types of schools, among which the most promising is the type 3 school, which is actually a type of European school. Under certain conditions, these schools may provide the European baccalaureate certificate. This is the most promising part of this project and we cannot do without it. The system is in a very serious impasse, but this proposal was adopted by the Member States at a Council meeting involving representatives of ministers of education, in which I also participated.

The basic idea is there, therefore, and we may have many more European schools providing the European baccalaureate as a particular type of education certificate, which would be a much more open system.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Μαρία Παναγιωτοπούλου-Κασσιώτου (PPE-DE). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, παίρνω αφορμή από τη σημερινή ερώτηση του συναδέλφου για να ρωτήσω εάν παιδιά με διάφορες μαθησιακές δυσκολίες μπορούν να γραφτούν, λαμβανομένης υπόψη της ιδιαιτερότητάς τους, στο σχολείο, αλλά και όσοι φοιτούν και είναι μαθητές κυρίως σε τμήματα λιγότερο ομιλούμενων γλωσσών, όπως τα Ελληνικά. Γιατί οι μαθησιακές δυσκολίες δεν λαμβάνονται υπόψη, όπως στις νομοθεσίες των κρατών από τα οποία προέρχονται;

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. Basically, yes: a system exists on how to deal with children with learning difficulties, but I do not know specifically. We have dealt with some specific cases where there have been big difficulties in adapting the system to the needs of children with certain problems, but a system exists and the board of governors, the secretariat-general and the administration of the European Schools try to adapt the schools to the needs of children who have specific problems.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Pergunta nº 48 do Deputado Proinsias De Rossa (H-0247/07)

Assunto: Reestruturação da rede Eurydice

A Comissão está ciente das implicações que a perda de competências e de experiência acumulada em matéria de políticas e programas de educação europeus terá para as políticas europeias – uma perda que resultará da decisão de substituir o pessoal qualificado da Unidade Eurydice por pessoal recrutado através de um concurso geral, concurso esse que não tem por objectivo valorizar a experiência do pessoal actualmente afecto à Unidade Eurydice ou do pessoal com experiência e competências comparáveis? A Comissão poderá indicar as medidas que tenciona adoptar para evitar a perda deplorável de um recurso tão valioso que tal iniciativa acarretará inevitavelmente?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. Mr President, last February the Commission modified the Decision setting up the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency. This modification extended the Agency’s mandate to 2015 and mandated the Agency to run the information network on education in Europe – Eurydice – from 2008. The decision was taken having heard the positive opinion from the European Parliament and the Council’s regulatory Executive Agency Committee.

A private body currently runs this programme on the basis of a contract with the Commission, which expires at the end of this year. The Commission has no particular difficulty in recruiting existing staff, but staff policy in executive agencies must ensure, in particular, that selection procedures for contract agents are transparent and give equal treatment to all interested candidates. To this end, the Agency has drawn to the attention of the staff working on the Eurydice activity that the selection process for contract agents was recently launched by the European Personnel Selection Office (EPSO). If they take part in this selection process and are successful, the Agency will be able to offer them a contract as a contract agent.

In addition, the EPSO selection process covers a range of profiles. Provided they pass the EPSO selection process, the specific experience of staff currently working on the Eurydice activity would be taken into consideration upon recruitment. Moreover, the Agency has already committed itself to waiting for the results of the EPSO selection before recruiting the contract agents it will need for the Eurydice activity.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Proinsias De Rossa (PSE). – Mr President, the Commissioner will understand the concerns of those employed currently by the Eurydice unit, who fear that they are going to lose their jobs as a result of the recruitment procedure which is being put in place. EPSO was in fact intended to be a more general recruitment procedure, and not one for a specific agency, and here we have staff who are well experienced, who have a lot of expertise and who may be lost to the unit as a result of the procedure that has been put in place because, obviously, those who would achieve a place on the panel as a result of the EPSO process would be competing with those who are already in situ and have the expertise and the experience.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. Members have said that these people are losing their jobs due to a selection process. This is not the case. The contract between the European institution and the private body will end and the functions will be taken over by a European agency, so this is a different process and it is really impossible to transfer people from a private body to the staff of the European Union without normal procedures. You must understand that you have in the European institutions people who are working full- or part-time – up to 40 000 people – and the rules to recruit people are very strict and very seriously followed and watched by staff unions, so the Commission is committed to following these rules very clearly. The rules are that everybody must be treated equally, and to recruit people from outside, the procedure must be under very clear staff regulations and rules, so that is the basis.

We had these problems when, under the administrative reforms, we transferred people from different types of contracts to the contract agent model, which was adopted as part of the administrative reform. It worked quite smoothly, so I think that those people have every possibility to continue their work, but they must pass the necessary procedures, and this is the selection procedure of EPSO.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Pergunta nº 49 do Deputado Leopold Józef Rutowicz (H-0251/07)

Assunto: Gestão dos fundos da UE

Os fundos reservados para o funcionamento dos edifícios do Parlamento em Estrasburgo - IPE-0, IPE-1 e IPE-2 (também conhecidos por WIC e SDM) - poderiam ser usados para fins mais úteis à sociedade, como a investigação científica. A existência de pagamentos excessivos que - segundo as estimativas da administração do PE - ascendem a, pelo menos, € 32 milhões durante o período de aluguer de 25 anos suscitou uma grande controvérsia (relatório Markus Ferber, A6-0280/2006).

Que planos existem com vista a gerir os fundos da UE de forma a restringir as despesas relativas aos alugueres de edifícios e utilizar melhor os próprios edifícios, reduzindo assim os custos administrativos?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. The question concerned the funding of building policy. Of course, the Commission is solely responsible for its buildings and is not in a position to comment on the other institutions’ plans. As far as the Commission is concerned, every effort is made to ensure that the funding of accommodation for Commission staff is judiciously managed to minimise administrative costs in this area.

The Commission closely follows the property market in Brussels and Luxembourg and has proven to be a successful negotiator of the financial conditions for its buildings. The Commission analyses the cost-effectiveness of the various options – purchase or leasehold. The Commission has established a policy of decentralisation by locating some of its offices and DGs outside the European quarters of Brussels and Luxembourg. In so doing, not only are the prices of these decentralised buildings lower than those of the equivalent buildings in the European quarter, but there is also less pressure on property prices in the European quarter. And, very importantly, the Commission pays special attention to building efficiency by ensuring the flexibility of the fittings and by using the maximum available surface. Waste of space is reduced to a minimum. The Eco-Management and Audit Scheme was launched in 2002 to improve energy performance, consumption of resources and emissions checks in buildings.

The Commission is currently developing a new life-cycle cost methodology to assess the technical quality of buildings, including energy efficiency. This is expected to be applied as of September 2008. All the less efficient buildings are progressively being replaced by better designed buildings at lower cost.

Thank you very much for explaining Parliament’s buildings policy, but, as I said, this is the Commission and we do not comment on other institutions’ building plans.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Leopold Józef Rutowicz (UEN). – Panie Przewodniczący! Wydaje się, że przecież istotne dla nas wszystkich jest, żeby ta oszczędność nie była tylko w Komisji, ale wszędzie. Mamy przecież ogromne braki w pieniądzach na różne programy naukowe, badawcze, które przynoszą nam wartość dodaną.

Tymczasem pieniądze stracone w różnych niewykorzystanych budynkach to jest typowa strata dla nas wszystkich - dla Komisji, Rady i Parlamentu Europejskiego. Czy Pan Komisarz jest zdania, żeby po prostu przeanalizować sytuację ogółu nieruchomości, które posiada Unia Europejska, i podjąć jakiś strategiczny plan działania w celu lepszego wykorzystania tych nieruchomości i ewentualnie osiągnięcia korzyści?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. I have only to say that we also have a good exchange of information and cooperation between the relevant services in the Commission which concern building policy and the relevant services within Parliament. We try, at least from the Commission side, to have the intention of discussing issues, such as how we locate all our services together with Parliament in Brussels. Of course the starting point must be efficiency and the most rational use of budgetary resources.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Paul Rübig (PPE-DE). – Herr Kommissar! Wir haben eine Richtlinie zum Gebäudeausweis in Bezug auf die Energieeffizienz beschlossen. Kennen Sie schon ein Gebäude der Europäischen Union, bei dem am Eingang auf einem Zeichen vermerkt ist, wie energieeffizient das Gebäude ist?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Siim Kallas, Vice-President of the Commission. I probably did not catch all the nuances of your question, but it must be said that, from the point of view of the Commission, six of our buildings have received good marks from different certification agencies as regards their environmental requirements and energy efficiency. Of course, we have more than 60 buildings at our disposal in Brussels and some of them are very old and should be replaced, but six buildings have been commended for their energy efficiency. We also compare reductions in CO2 in the buildings, which show that the new buildings are very good.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Por não se encontrar presente o seu autor, a pergunta nº 50 caduca.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Pergunta nº 51 do Deputado Claude Moraes (H-0180/07)

Assunto: Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional

Poderá a Comissão indicar o modo como os Programas Operacionais apresentados a título do Fundo Europeu de Desenvolvimento Regional terão em conta as necessidades de grupos desfavorecidos? Tencionará a Comissão garantir que, na avaliação destes Programas Operacionais, seja dada prioridade aos problemas particulares enfrentados pelas comunidades mais pobres?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danuta Hübner, Member of the Commission. Mr President, on this first question: in our Community strategic guidelines for cohesion policy for 2007-2013, there is in fact an article which ensures equality between men and women, and non-discrimination in general. This provision clearly states that Member States should take appropriate steps to prevent any discrimination at any stage of the management or the preparation of the European structural funds.

In the course of the negotiations and of the monitoring of the programme and projects, the Commission pays particular attention to ensuring that this cross-cutting principle of non-discrimination is fully respected. The Commission implementing rules also contain the obligation for Member States and regions to report on the implementation of the operational programmes, also with regard to the respect and promotion of equal opportunities principles in the context of the annual and final implementation reforms.

With regard to the part of the question which refers to the less-favoured areas, countries and regions, cohesion policy takes a very strongly proactive approach towards the problem of poverty, which is certainly higher within those less-favoured countries and regions. Through the allocation method, this policy provides those less-favoured regions and countries with relatively higher financial resources. Also in the course of the programming and implementation of programmes, we also emphasise growth and job creation, supporting investment.

Within the European Social Fund in particular, we pursue very specific actions which are targeted to reinforcing the social inclusion of disadvantaged people with a view to their sustainable integration and employment. For the period 2007-2013 we have also done the categorisation of investment, which we use to monitor the programming. Then we will also monitor the implementation. In this categorisation of expenditures there are also several categories related to discrimination. For example, in the operational programmes we already have measures that are already visible at this stage to improve access to employment and increase the sustainable participation and progress of women at the level of EUR 2.7 billion to be invested across Europe. With regard to the specific actions to increase migrants’ participation in employment, this is EUR 1.9 billion.

There is also a category for improving the social inclusion of less-favoured people, especially the re-entry into employment of disadvantaged people. We already see today that across the Member States there will be nearly EUR 8 billion invested in the years to come in this category, addressing the concerns that you have expressed in your question.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Claude Moraes (PSE). – I particularly welcome the Commissioner’s answer to the question of more disadvantaged areas. I should specifically like to ask her about European Regional Development Fund payments to my own constituency, which is London, and some of its disadvantaged areas. I wrote to the Commissioner recently about this, and I wonder if she could please explain how any decision to suspend payments to projects in London could perhaps be reversed, and provide assurances that if the Commission auditors are satisfied, this could happen quickly. I do not want to put her at any disadvantage if she does not recall the letter, but I did write to her recently and I would appreciate a reply either now or in the near future.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danuta Hübner, Member of the Commission. I would like to say briefly that, with regard to London, we hope to reach a solution with the authorities very soon. I hope that the suspension will soon be lifted, once all the changes we are awaiting from the authorities are made. I take on board your concerns about the disadvantaged areas of London. Two years ago, I visited one of the special programmes devoted to disadvantaged people and migrants in London. I hope that we will be able to address your concern soon.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Paul Rübig (PPE-DE). – Frau Kommissarin! Benachteiligte Gruppen haben in erster Linie auch Probleme mit Hygienevoraussetzungen. Wie sehen Sie hier die Entwicklung im Bereich der Wasserpolitik und der Abwasserstrategie, besonders auch in benachteiligten Gebieten?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danuta Hübner, Member of the Commission. I cannot tell you today exactly how much will go towards water treatment in disadvantaged areas, but certainly one of the priorities under the first objective of the European policy – the accessibility of the regions – is also addressing environmental issues. Among the environmental issues there is also the issue of access to water and water problems in all their diversity. If you are interested, I am sure that probably in a couple of weeks I can provide the more specific information on how much of the funds will go towards this kind of investment, but it is very high on our list of priorities. At this stage I can only say this.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Pergunta nº 52 da Deputada Marie Panayotopoulos-Cassiotou (H-0182/07)

Assunto: Política regional para as regiões insulares

O facto de 2007 ter sido declarado Ano Europeu da Igualdade de Oportunidades para Todos afecta a política regional da UE. As regiões insulares, montanhosas e escassamente povoadas como as da Grécia insular, para terem iguais oportunidades, precisam de critérios mais flexíveis para reunir as condições de elegibilidade e um tratamento especial de certas localizações com problemas específicos (por exemplo, dificuldade de acesso, condições climáticas, actividade económica particular) no âmbito da política regional.

Como avalia a Comissão a forma como estas regiões foram tratadas por parte da União Europeia? Como explica a sua constante posição de inferioridade em comparação com o progresso espectacular de outras regiões continentais e densamente povoadas?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danuta Hübner, Member of the Commission. As far as I understand, the question concerns equal opportunities and the island regions.

As you know, the policy’s priority is to reduce socio-economic disparities between the regions and we do so through the allocation of available financial resources to the regions on the basis of their relative prosperity. However, we also examine the kinds of investment needed. We support growth-enhancing investment in the case of the less-advantaged regions, such as islands, in order to address their concerns. For the period 2007-2013 we have recognised the special situation of certain territories – not only islands but also sparsely populated and mountainous areas. We have proposed specific provisions, one of which is a higher cofinancing rate, but there are also additional financial allocations for many of those disadvantaged areas.

We have also included a specific chapter in our strategic guidelines to focus Member States’ attention on the territorial dimension of cohesion policy, in which we have underlined and emphasised the importance of those territorial units suffering from different kinds of handicaps. At this stage of the negotiations with the Member States, we are also ensuring that specific constraints which exist in those areas and islands are duly taken into account by the Member States, especially in the preparation of the operational programmes and adoption of measures for the following ten years.

We have already carried out a preliminary assessment of the programmes presented to the Commission for the negotiations to see to what extent islands will be beneficiaries in the future. So far, the Commission has earmarked EUR 3.6 billion for islands. There is also a specific allocation for the outermost regions, which are also islands, and this will be EUR 3.8 billion. We have also agreed with our colleagues responsible for ESPON in Luxembourg to work on better indicators for those disadvantaged areas, in order to have more up-to-date information on those specific territories.

In other portfolios too, especially that of Commissioner Kroes, who is responsible for state aid, we have asked for special treatment for small islands as regards aid to help business start-ups. A 5% bonus is offered to those islands.

The second part of your question states that those areas remain in a disadvantaged position compared to other territories. I must say that the performance of those territories so far has not been uniform and negative. We have a range of studies that clearly demonstrate that many of those areas, in particular islands, suffer rather from their size and demography than from their specific geographical location. Many areas have experienced a significant improvement. Madeira, the Canary Islands and also areas of Greece, such as Notio Aigaio, have clearly caught up well.

I wanted to make a lengthy reply, because many people come to us with the same concerns about those disadvantaged territories. They are very close to our heart. We really care about the situation in those regions and we can also see some results. That said, I know that there is still a long way to go and we need your cooperation in this area.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Μαρία Παναγιωτοπούλου-Κασσιώτου (PPE-DE). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, θα ήθελα να ευχαριστήσω την κυρία Επίτροπο για την απάντησή της· θα ήθελα όμως να επιμείνω στο ότι, για να υπάρξει ενιαία ανάπτυξη σε όλη την Ευρώπη, μήπως μπορεί να υπάρξει και ιδιαίτερη μέριμνα για το σχεδιασμό προγραμμάτων που θα φέρουν την ανάπτυξη σε περιοχές που συνεχίζουν να είναι σε μειονεκτική θέση; Γιατί, εκτός από τη Μαδέρα που αναφέρατε, υπάρχουν και άλλα νησιά που δεν μπορούν να έχουν ούτε καν θαλάσσια επικοινωνία με κάποιο κέντρο. Επίσης ειδική μεταχείριση, δελεαστικότερα κριτήρια προβλέπονται στο πρόγραμμά σας, προκειμένου να επιλεγούν οι περιοχές αυτές;

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danuta Hübner, Member of the Commission. We negotiate with Greece also now the national as well as the operational programmes. What we see there is that the authorities now propose also a special priority which is accessibility, especially for islands, so I hope that, within the operational programme that is addressing the Greek island territory, priority will also be given to helping with the accessibility of the islands. We clearly know the problems also with the accessibility of islands. We are sensitive to this and when there is this proposal, we are very responsive in a positive way also to do this, to work on this with you as well.

I do not know if you have any more specific requests for information related to a specific territory. We would in that case be very happy later on to receive the information on the specific concerns you are referring to.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Γεώργιος Παπαστάμκος (PPE-DE). – Κύριε Πρόεδρε, οι παγκόσμιοι τουριστικοί προορισμοί ασφαλώς και δεν μπορούν να αποτελούν μέτρο σύγκρισης. Μιλούμε για νησιωτικά συμπλέγματα στην Ευρώπη, μιλούμε για νησιωτικές περιοχές στην Ελλάδα, αποκομμένες από το ηπειρωτικό κέντρο, αποκομμένες από τον ευρωπαϊκό κεντρικό κορμό. Σκεφτείτε, κυρία Επίτροπε, με πόσο κόστος επιβαρύνεται ένα προϊόν για να μεταφερθεί από ένα μικρό νησί του Αιγαίου στην κεντρική ευρωπαϊκή αγορά. Και η περιφερειακή πολιτική και η πολιτική της συνοχής για τις νησιωτικές περιοχές δεν μπορούν να είναι μέρος του όλου· χρειάζεται μια ξεχωριστή εδαφική ατζέντα, μια "territorial agenda", για τις νησιωτικές περιοχές στην Ευρώπη: αυτή είναι η πρότασή μου.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danuta Hübner, Member of the Commission. If you come up with such a proposal I just take it as a message, but let me also say that a substantial area of the Greek islands is still under the Convergence objective as far as I remember. In terms of the eligibility of the funding, everything is possible, so we should not have problems with this.

Let me also say that, for the islands, as I said at the beginning, we have also agreed on higher co-financing rates, so there are some additional facilities or measures which can also help the islands, but I am open to any discussion about the islands. We can continue the debate later on.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Pergunta nº 53 da Deputada Glenis Willmott (H-0185/07)

Assunto: Divulgação do financiamento nas regiões da UE

No Reino Unido, tal como certamente ocorre em outros países europeus, é escasso o conhecimento e reconhecimento das várias aplicações dos fundos da UE na regeneração das regiões menos prósperas. Os projectos regionais financiados pela UE figuram entre os benefícios mais visíveis da adesão à União Europeia e, como tal, os cidadãos europeus devem ter uma maior consciência da contribuição da UE para a melhoria das suas vidas quotidianas.

Quais as medidas adoptadas pela Comissão para assegurar que os beneficiários dos Fundos Estruturais promovam e divulguem a fonte dos respectivos financiamentos? No intuito de aproximar a União Europeia dos cidadãos, tenciona a Comissão criar uma base de dados central que contenha informações sobre os financiamentos concedidos pela UE, classificados por região, e que permita aos cidadãos ver claramente quais os fundos investidos na sua região?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danuta Hübner, Member of the Commission. This is a question which I think is very important for the future. We have introduced some changes also to our regulations, to our approach, to have this better visibility. This policy is based on the principle of shared management, and within this shared responsibility with Member States it is for the Member States in fact to ensure appropriate information and publicity on the structural funds intervention.

We have also put into the regulation for the period 2007-2013 the requirement which is in a way consolidating and strengthening the requirements that we have today in our regulation. It says clearly that for every operational programme there should be an operational officer; for every operational programme there should be a communication plan. We also put into the regulation the minimum requirements for this kind of operational plan for communication. The information obligation also concerns final beneficiaries who must inform the public by putting up a billboard during the implementation of big projects which are also linked with physical investment and the purchase of physical material. There is also the requirement to have a permanent explanatory plaque should inform the public of European participation in the project. This is also true for training projects, where the participants must be informed by the beneficiary that EU funding is involved.

We have also introduced a brand new element to this through a Commission regulation. We will also have a publication giving the list of beneficiaries, as well as the amounts of public funding that they receive. So there will be national databases which will have to be publicly accessible, then the Commission will also establish a website and include on that the links to those databases. All that should be in place early next year.

There will also be databases created by both DG REGIO and DG EMPL containing the information at programme level – not at project level, which concerns Member States, but at programme level. It will be classified by country and by region. This will also contain the description of the operational programmes. So there will certainly be access to information: that is absolutely clear.

We started the exchange of experience between all the communication officers involved in November or December last year, but we will continue, reaching full speed at the end of this year. So at the end of this year we will be having the first big meeting with the communication officers of all the operational programmes just to share best practice and to exchange information about the communication activities which will have been developed by that time. I hope that through those efforts and new regulations we will be able to make this policy even more visible to the citizens. We also hope that this increased transparency will also have a positive impact on the quality of the policy and on the management of the policy.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Glenis Willmott (PSE). – In order for the EU to forge stronger links with its citizens, it is not enough for citizens to be aware of EU funding being poured into their regions. EU citizens also need to be more involved in the EU funding process and the way EU money is being spent to fulfil public policy objectives. Transparency and accountability are essential requirements for ensuring that EU citizens are involved in European policy-making. What measures are in place to ensure that not only the Member States, but also the Commission, operate as transparently as possible when it comes to distributing EU money via structural funds? Citizens should be able to process information on who receives EU funding, how much, and for what purpose. Is this information available?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danuta Hübner, Member of the Commission. That is exactly what I was trying to say. We now have these new transparency initiatives so there will be national websites where the Member States and the regions are obliged to present and to publicise the information on the final beneficiaries and the amount of funds allocated to them. The Commission – all the DGs responsible for the structural funds – will have to provide a direct link from our website to those national websites with the information. We will also independently be producing information on the operational programmes, which will also be put on the web. There will be more activities through those information officers on the ground in the regions within the Member States.

I hope that in this way we will reach more citizens with the information, but also that we increase transparency and the quality of the programme and the projects.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. Pergunta nº 54 do Deputado Lambert van Nistelrooij (H-0195/07)

Assunto: Estatuto das ilhas das Antilhas Neerlandesas e fundos estruturais

O artigo 299º do Tratado da União Europeia enumera as regiões ultraperiféricas da UE. As ilhas de São Martinho e Curaçau, que fazem actualmente parte das Antilhas Neerlandesas, anunciaram em 2005 que, a partir de 1 de Julho de 2007, passarão a dispor de um estatuto especial no Reino dos Países Baixos, tal como Aruba. As outras três ilhas, Saba, Santo Eustáquio e Bonaire, terão um estatuto semelhante ao de um município neerlandês, passando a dispor de direito de voto nas eleições para o Parlamento Europeu.

As autoridades responsáveis estariam actualmente a considerar o estatuto de região ultraperiférica para cada uma dessas ilhas, que assim passariam a fazer parte integrante da UE.

Tem a Comissão conhecimento de quais são as ilhas antilhanas que preenchem as condições para passarem a ser consideradas regiões ultraperiféricas? No entender da Comissão, quais serão as eventuais consequências desse facto para a concessão de ajudas a título dos fundos estruturais da UE?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danuta Hübner, Member of the Commission. My services and I have been cooperating with the Netherlands Government for quite some months on this issue, in particular with the Foreign Minister. As far as I know there is a procedure about which I am sure Mr van Nistelrooij knows, but as far as we know today, there is still an internal discussion within the Dutch Government and no proposal has yet been made to the Council to modify the Treaty, because this process would require the modification of the Treaty and only at that stage would the Commission be asked to present its opinion.

But in the meantime, before the Council has asked us, or before the whole process is started, we have been working with the Netherlands Foreign Ministry, providing them with the information, what this would mean, what kind of pros and cons should be taken into account, what the consequences would be for those territories if they become new outermost regions, and I hope that this information that the Commission has provided so far can help the Dutch Government to make the decision.

Nevertheless, the whole process can only take place when the Council gets the application from the Dutch Government and, as I said, only then can the Commission formally make an assessment of the consequences.

What I can say today is that the three islands that we are talking about have a very small population – just 30 000. So in terms of adding to the challenges that the funds are facing, it is not much. However, we all know that the budgetary framework has been decided for the years up to 2013, so any additional funds would have to be negotiated and decided on by the Council in particular. This would most likely be part of the whole process of change of the budget, but we are still far from this stage at the moment.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Lambert van Nistelrooij (PPE-DE). – Voorzitter, mevrouw Hübner, het gaat natuurlijk om een wens van de Nederlandse Antillen zelf. Het zou kunnen leiden tot een aanpassing van het Verdrag. Het zou ook mogelijkheden kunnen bieden voor deze eilanden in de zin van werkgelegenheid, opleiding, enz.

Mijn vraag aan u is, of u samen met de Nederlandse overheid die verdere studie wilt doen. Er zijn evaluatiegegevens beschikbaar, bijvoorbeeld van Guadeloupe, Martinique, soortgelijke gebieden. Zou u dat samen willen doen, opdat er een zo goed mogelijk besluit op termijn mogelijk is?

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Danuta Hübner, Member of the Commission. As I said, we were approached by the governments so we provided all the information that was needed. We can do the same for the islands if we are asked to do so by anybody who requires this information. We can certainly do that, but if the islands were to change their status and the amendment of the Treaty were to take place, then EU law would be applicable and would be implemented in these territories, including all the regulations which are related to European regional policy. In the meantime, as I said, we can provide all the information which is needed.

 
  
MPphoto
 
 

  Presidente. As perguntas que, por falta de tempo, não obtiveram resposta obtê-la-ão ulteriormente por escrito (ver Anexo).

O período de perguntas à Comissão está encerrado.

 
  

(1) JO L 286 de 17.10.2006, p. 6.
(2) JO L 89 de 5.4.2003, p. 9.
(3) JO L 337 de 13.12.2002, p. 3.
(4) JO L 316, de 31.10.1992, p. 29.

Ostatnia aktualizacja: 9 maj 2007Informacja prawna