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Parliamentary questions
22 October 2007
Joint answer given by Ms Hübner on behalf of the Commission
Written questions : E-4410/07 , E-4438/07 , P-4432/07 , E-4414/07 , E-4424/07 , E-4977/07 , E-4508/07 , E-4994/07

The Commission would like to point out that racism and xenophobia are incompatible with the principles upon which the European Union is founded and which are common to the Member States.

In reply to the specific questions of the Honourable Members, the Commission can inform them that at this point in time it has no detailed information from the Polish authorities, the Managing Authority of the operational programme concerned, on this project. The only information available is that it has been included into a so-called list of key projects. This list, to which some of the questions relate, is a purely internal mechanism of the Managing Authority devised with a view to establish a project pipeline. As such it does not have any legal value, nor it is approved by the Commission — every project financed by the operational programme Infrastructure & Environment will have to pass through the normal selection procedure, independently of whether it is on the list of key projects or not. This means that these projects will have to respect the programme quality criteria, the Monitoring Committee selection criteria and Community law. The Commission has made this clear to the Managing Authority on numerous occasions and, to the knowledge of the Commission, the Minister for Regional Development has stated that inclusion on the list is not a guarantee for funding.

For the above reasons, at this stage the Commission is not in a position to comment on the project's quality and eligibility. However, comments from renowned institutions and international media have raised doubts as to the respect for European principles in the school's lecturing activities. These are serious allegations which will have to be examined very closely. In any event, the Commission will not allow European funding to be used to support directly or indirectly activities incompatible with European principles, which include the respect for fundamental rights which form an integral part of the general principles of Community law.

The operational programme Infrastructure & Environment from which the grant is supposed to be financed is not yet approved by the Commission. The Commission has insisted on clear and high quality objective criteria, and indicators for the operational programme's priority axes. Of course, this applies also for priority axis XIII ‘Educational infrastructure’ of the operational programme under which the project has been proposed for support.

The Commission will make sure that the final operational programme document ensures that every project to be financed within this programme:

(a) fully respects EC laws and policies; this requirement includes the respect for fundamental rights which form an integral part of the general principles of Community law.
(b) constitutes a sound and coherent strategic basis for fulfilling the EC Treaty's objective of strengthening the Community's economic and social cohesion laid down in Article 158. This objective includes respect for equality between men and women and non-discrimination as required by Article 16 of Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006(1), as well as in Recital 8 of Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006(2), governing the European Regional Development Fund for the 2007‑13 programming period.

Project selection is done under the responsibility of national authorities, without the involvement of the Commission, except in respect of funding for major projects (above EUR 25 million or 50 million) for which the Commission must take a decision authorising a financial contribution from the Funds. Since the project the Honourable Members are referring to is below this threshold, it is the responsibility of the Member State itself to prevent, detect and correct irregularities (as laid down in Article 70 of Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006).However, the Commission is responsible for controlling whether these procedures are correctly applied. In case of serious deficiencies in the management and control system or serious irregularities which have not been corrected, or a serious breach by the Member State of its obligations on management and control, the Commission can decide to suspend payments (Article 92 of Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006) or recover payments (Article 99 of Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006).

The Commission may also decide to apply Article 226 of the Treaty for failure to conform to the Treaty and secondary legislation.

(1)Council Regulation (EC) No 1083/2006 of 11 July 2006 laying down general provisions on the European Regional Development Fund, the European Social Fund and the Cohesion Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1260/1999, OJ L 210, 31.7.2006.
(2)Regulation (EC) No 1080/2006 of the Parliament and of the Council of 5 July 2006 on the European Regional Development Fund and repealing Regulation (EC) No 1783/1999, OJ L 210, 31.7.2006.

OJ C 191, 29/07/2008
Ostatnia aktualizacja: 7 listopada 2007Informacja prawna