Parliamentary Q and A Archive
Question and answer archive.
EU investigation into Gibraltar tax system.
Q - Is it the view of the Commission that Commissioner Almunia can be objective on the subject of Gibraltar?
A - The Commission recalls that article 17 (1) and (3) of the Treaty on the European Union provides that the Commission shall promote the general interest of the Union and shall be completely independent; the members of the Commission shall neither seek nor take instructions from any government or other institution, body or entity.
The Commission is of the view that all its Members fully respect these provisions and act in the general interest of the Union.
The Budget for EU missions.
Q - By 2001 the EU already had missions in 123 countries and 5 accredited to large international organisations. What was the budget in 2001 and for all succeeding years? What is the budget for 2010 and for each of the next ten years?
A - Answer is here. (PDF)
Q - How many embassies does the EU already have open? Which are they? How many staff does each have?
A - The EU currently has 136 Delegations worldwide. The complete list of Delegations is to be found on the EEAS website http://eeas.europa.eu/delegations/web_en.htm The number of staff per Delegation is around 40 people on average, including local staff. In December 2010, the smallest Delegations were the ones in New Zealand and Vanuatu, with five people each, while the biggest was the one in Ankara (Turkey), with 130 people.
Twinings tea of Andover.
Q - Does the Commission believe that the plans by Twinings to shut its factory in North Shields and reduce its workforce at Andover, in order to open in Poland using European Regional Development Fund monies, is fully legally compliant and a legitimate use of the Fund?
A - The Commission considers that companies should not receive funding from the European Development Fund (ERDF) for investments which would lead to the abolition of jobs by the same company in another region of the EU, as the net effect of the ERDF investment would be zero or even negative.
In the particular case referred to by the Honourable Member, the Polish authorities have informed the Commission that a contract for support was signed on 4 October 2010 between the Polish managing authority for the Operational Programme Innovative Economy and R. Twining and Company Sp. z o.o. The total cost of the project amounts to 174,5 million PLN (c. EUR 43 million) of which 48,4 million PLN (c. EUR 12 million) is support from the ERDF.
The Operational Programme Innovative Economy provides that, in the case of assistance to a large enterprise, the Managing Authority undertakes to request an assurance from the enterprise that "the assistance will concern new investments and will not be used for support of investments that concern the relocation of its production or service facilities from another Member State of the European Union". However, the Polish authorities have not requested such an assurance in this case, as this clause is only relevant when the beneficiary is an entity other than a Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (SME).
Based on information provided to the Commission, it appears that R. Twining and Company Sp. z o.o was established in 2008 falling under the definition of an SME. Its shares were bought by ABF Overseas Limited on 1 December 2009. At the time of the grant of assistance, R. Twining and Company Sp. z o.o was still considered an SME, as under Article 2 of Annex I of Regulation 800/2008 . A company will only become a large enterprise once the headcount and financial thresholds have been exceeded for two consecutive accounting periods, i.e. at the start of 2011.
In a meeting with the Polish Minister for regional development on 9 November 2010 the Commissioner responsible for Regional Policy asked the Minister to look into this matter and to ensure that all applicable rules concerning the granting of assistance have been and will be respected in this case. On the basis of the information received from the Polish authorities, the Commission is examining the need for any further investigation.
The Honourable Member will be informed of the results of this enquiry.
The definition of 'Roma'.
Q - How does the Commission define ‘Roma’?
A - For the purposes of EU policy documents and discussion, the Commission uses the term ‘Roma’ in a similar way to Parliament, the Council, the European Council and other EU institutions as an umbrella term covering various groups, such as Sinti, Travellers, Kalé and so on, who share fairly similar cultural characteristics and a history of persistent marginalisation in European society.
While the Commission is aware that applying the term ‘Roma’ to all these groups is contentious, its intention is not to treat members of these other groups as culturally the same as Roma. Nonetheless, it considers it practical and justifiable to use ‘Roma’ as an umbrella term in policy documents and discussions on issues of social exclusion and discrimination and not on specific issues of cultural identity.
The Commission's welcome for the result of the referendum in
Q - Does the Commission’s welcome for ‘the approval, by the Turkish people, of the constitutional reforms in the referendum which took place on 12 September’ include that part of the reforms which weakens the independence of the Turkish judiciary?
A - The Commission has welcomed the adoption by the Turkish Parliament, and the approval by the Turkish people, of the constitutional reforms in the referendum which took place on 12 September 2010. These reforms are a step in the right direction as they address a number of priorities in Turkey's efforts towards fully complying with EU accession criteria.
However, the Commission has consistently underlined that the impact of the reforms on the ground will depend on their actual implementation. A number of enacting laws will be needed and the Commission will follow their preparation very closely. Meanwhile, the Commission encourages the Turkish government to show utmost transparency as well as a spirit of dialogue on the substance of this implementing legislation.
The Commission will provide a detailed analysis of all constitutional amendments in the upcoming Turkey 2010 Progress Report, which is scheduled to be published on 9 November 2010.
Benefits of a Customs Union?
Q - Bearing in mind the relative rarity of the arrangements, what benefits does the Commission believe arise from creating a customs union with an applicant prior to full membership?
A - As a general rule Customs Unions provide for an area where goods can travel without restrictions and a common external tariff is applied. Candidate countries are not required to enter into a Customs Union with the EU in the course of accession negotiations. The establishment of a Customs Union between a candidate country and the EU prior to accession could favour economic integration between the two parties, develop bilateral trade and help prepare the business sector to the requirements of EU accession.
Q - Can the Commission confirm that contracting parties to commercial and all other agreements – and specifically international trade agreements – will continue to have the absolute right to write into an agreement which legal jurisdiction is competent to settle any dispute, including after the Stockholm Programme has come fully into force in all its aspects?
A - The Commission understands that the Honourable Member refers to agreements whereby parties to international (sales) contracts agree to submit any dispute concerning the contract concerned to the jurisdiction of the courts designated in the contract (so-called "choice of court" agreements).
Union law currently recognises party autonomy with respect to choice of court. In particular, Article 23 of Council Regulation (EC) No 44/2001 of 22 December 2000 on jurisdiction and the recognition and enforcement of judgments in civil and commercial matters ('Brussels I Regulation') lays down the conditions under which choice of court agreements will be effective in Europe. In its Report on the application of the Brussels I Regulation and Green Paper on the review of the Brussels I Regulation , the Commission has pointed out possible ways to further strengthen the effectiveness of choice of court agreements in Europe. The improvement of the enforceability of choice of court agreements will be one of the important points for the revision of Regulation 44/2001, which is a strategic priority of the Commission in 2010.
The respect of party autonomy in the context of choice of court agreements is a matter which the Union intends to promote beyond the European borders. The Union has already signed the 2005 Hague Convention of 30 June 2005 on Choice of Court Agreements, which will permit to ensure the effectiveness of choice of court clauses at the international level. The Commission intends to propose the ratification of that Convention in the future.
Funding for the European Movement.
Q - What payments or subsidies has the Commission made or granted to the 'European Movement' to date? Is there any further funding planned?
A - The Commission is sending directly to the Honourable Member and to the Parliament's Secretariat a table showing the payments made to the 'European Movement' from 2005 to June 2010. The table distinguishes payments made to the different branches of the organisation "European Movement" in the EU. The total amount paid was EUR 5,555,341.85.
As regards future funding, the table also shows amounts that have been committed but have not yet been paid out. The total amount in this case is EUR 297.622,81.
EU funding for Turkey.
Q - How are the current indicative allocations for Turkey – EUR 653.7 million for 2010, EUR 781.9 million for 2011 and EUR 899.5 million for 2012 – to be financed?
A - The legal basis for the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA) is the Council Regulation 1085/2006 which is financed by the EU budget under the budgetary heading No 6 – European Union as a global partner (see COM(2004)101 final) which is part of the financial perspective 2007-2013. The indicative allocations to Turkey are set out in the Multi-Annual Indicative Financial Framework (MIFF). These are used as a basis for the strategic prioritisation of the funding as outlined in the Multi-Annual Indicative Planning Document (MIPD). The latest MIPD for Turkey was adopted in June 2009 and covers the period 2009-2011. The Commission is currently reviewing the priorities to be established for the 2011-2013 period together with the Turkish authorities.
As an example, the total 2010 envelope for Turkey of EUR 653.7 million will be split between the five IPA components according to the following allocations and strategic objectives:
IPA I – Transition Assistance and Institution Building (EUR 211,3 million): will support Turkey's progress towards fully meeting the Copenhagen political criteria, efforts to harmonise with the EU acquis and promotion of an EU-Turkey Civil Society Dialogue.
IPA II – Cross-Border Cooperation (EUR 9,6 million): will prepare Turkey for the implementation of the Territorial Cooperation objective of the EU structural funds and support Turkey's participation in bilateral cross-border programmes with Member States as well as Turkey's participation in the European Neighbourhood Policy Instrument (ENPI) Black Sea Basin programme.
IPA III – Regional Development (EUR 238,1 million): will support three intervention areas: environment, transport and regional competitiveness.
IPA IV – Human Resources (EUR 63,4 million): will address three key areas of intervention: employment, education and social inclusion.
IPA V – Rural Development (EUR 131,3 million): three priorities are set out: adaptation of the agricultural sector and implementing of Community standards, preparatory actions for agri-environment measures and Leader and development of the rural economy.
Further details can be found in the 2009-2011 MIPD for Turkey accessible here:
Subsequently, IPA funds are programmed in line with the established priorities, on an annual basis for IPA component I and on a multi-annual basis for IPA Component II-V. The National Programme 2010 under IPA component I is currently being developed by the Commission and Turkey and will be presented to the IPA Management Committee and adopted in the autumn 2010.
EU funding to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Q - Can the Commission advise how much funding has been provided to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in pre-accession assistance, and what further funding is planned?
A - Pre-accession assistance to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the period 2001-2009 amounts to EUR 456,796 million.
For 2010, the Budget foresees for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia an amount of EUR 91,684,594. For 2011, the Commission has proposed in its Draft Budget an amount of EUR 98,028,286. For the years 2012 and 2013, the indicative allocations for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia under the Multi-Annual Indicative Financial Framework for the Instrument for Pre-accession assistance are EUR 105,000,000 and EUR 117,000,000.
The allocations as of 2011 are still subject to the annual budgetary procedure and the decision of the Budgetary Authority.
IPA assistance to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is implemented according to the five IPA components available to Candidate Countries: Transition Assistance and Institution Building (Component I), Cross Border-Cooperation (Component II), Regional Development (Component III), Human Resources Development (Component IV), and Rural Development (Component V). In addition, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia continues to benefit from regional and horizontal programmes.
Turkish citizens in other Member States in the event of Turkish
accession to the EU.
Q - Has the Commission made any assessment of the number of Turkish citizens and residents who would go to work in other Member States if Turkey were to become a member of the European Union?
A - An assessment of the real impact on the EU of the free movement of workers between Turkey and the EU can only be conducted once negotiations under this particular chapter of the accession process have started. Moreover, the Commission recalls the provisions of the Negotiating Framework of 3 October 2005:
"Long transitional periods, derogations, specific arrangements or permanent safeguard clauses, i.e. clauses which are permanently available as a basis for safeguard measures, may be considered. The Commission will include these, as appropriate, in its proposals in areas such as freedom of movement of persons, structural policies or agriculture. Furthermore, the decision-taking process regarding the eventual establishment of freedom of movement of persons should allow for a maximum role of individual Member States. Transitional arrangements or safeguards should be reviewed regarding their impact on competition or the functioning of the internal market".
The Negotiating Framework can be consulted through this link.
Financial commitments to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and
Q - Will the Commission outline – as comprehensively as possible – the financial commitments and obligations, both direct and indirect, of all the EU institutions including the ECB and the EBRD to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan?
A - Summary of EU Assistance to Central Asia: 2007-2013: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and regional.
EU funding to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Q - Can the Commission advise how much funding has been provided to Bosnia and Herzegovina and what further funding is planned?
A - The EU has provided substantial financial support - almost EUR 2.9 billion - to Bosnia and Herzegovina since the end of the war in 1995 - . Between 1995 and 2001, the EU provided more than EUR 540 million for humanitarian assistance. The PHARE, OBNOVA and CARDS programmes provided more than EUR 1 billion to Bosnia and Herzegovina, of which EUR 503 million under the CARDS programme in the years 2001 to 2006. In the period 2007-2009, Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) has provided EUR 226 million for institution-building, transition assistance and cross-border cooperation in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The current Multi-Annual Indicative Financial Framework 2010-2013 allocates another EUR 434.2 million to Bosnia and Herzegovina. The key priorities include the strengthening of rule of law, in particular the judiciary and the police, the reform of the public administration, socio-economic development as well as gradual alignment with European Standards.
In addition to IPA, the EU has made available Macro Financial Assistance for a total amount of EUR 100 million in 2010.
Moreover, since its creation, the EU has co-financed 53% (or EURO 105.4 million) of operational budget of the Office of the High Representative (OHR).
Bosnia and Herzegovina is also entitled to benefit from regional and horizontal programmes under IPA, which amount to a total of EUR 723 million for 2007-2011 for the Western Balkans and Turkey.
EU funding to Albania.
Q - Can the Commission advise how much EU funding has been provided to Albania and what further funding is planned?
A - EU assistance to Albania has totalled almost EUR 1.18 billion. Between 1991 and 2006, the EU provided EUR 635 million under the PHARE programme and EUR 330 million under the CARDS programme. In the period 2007-2009, the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) has provided EUR 213 million for institution-building, transition assistance and cross-border cooperation in Albania.
The current Multi-Annual Indicative Financial Framework 2010-2013 allocates another EUR 381 million to Albania. The key priorities include the strengthening of rule of law, in particular the judiciary and the police, the reform of the public administration, socio-economic development as well as gradual alignment with European Standards.
In addition to IPA, the Commission has made available Macro Financial Assistance for a total amount of EUR 150 million until 2007.
Albania is also entitled to benefit from regional and horizontal programmes under IPA, which amount to a total of EUR 723 million for 2007-2011 for the Western Balkans and Turkey.
EU funding to Serbia.
Q - Can the Commission advise how much funding has been provided to Serbia and what further funding is planned?
A - The EU provided financial assistance to Serbia through the Community Assistance for Reconstruction, Development and Stabilisation (CARDS) programme for the period 2001-2006 and through the Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) for the period 2007-2010.
Under CARDS, assistance totalled EUR 1 billion.
Under IPA, assistance has totalled EUR 773.3 million and has focussed on areas such as strengthening the rule of law, human rights, education, transport, environmental protection and cross-border cooperation.
The current Multi-Annual Indicative Financial Framework for 2011-2013 allocates another EUR 622.5 million. Key priorities under this include strengthening the rule of law, in particular the judiciary and the police; reform of public administration; socio-economic development, as well as gradual alignment with European standards.
Serbia is also entitled to benefit from regional and horizontal programmes under IPA, which amount to a total of EUR 723 million for the period 2007-2011 for the Western Balkans and Turkey.
In response to the economic crisis, the Commission has made macro financial assistance available to Serbia in the form of a loan, amounting to a maximum of EUR 200 million in order to contribute to Serbia's external financing needs in 2010.
Finally, a number of civil society organisations, active in the field of democracy and human rights and based in Serbia, have been supported by the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights, run by the Commission's Europe-Aid Office, in the form of small amounts of grants.
The UK's involvement in the euro zone rescue package.
Q - Can the Commission confirm that it will not ask the UK to contribute further towards the existing euro zone rescue aid package?
A - The Council Regulation establishing a European financial stabilization mechanism covers the 27 EU Member States and is backed by the EU budget. The United Kingdom does participate neither to the financial support to Greece nor to the establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) with a view to making loans to a possible beneficiary euro area Member State.
Questions on the alternative investment fund managers directive
Q - How will the regulations proposed in the AIFM Directive enhance the availability of credit?
A - As the Directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) mainly concerns regulation of different types of investment funds and is not related to credit institutions or banking activities, no direct impact on the availability of credit is to be expected. However, in creating an internal market for alternative investment funds, the proposal should improve the availability of funds and investment possibilities across the Union.
Q - Has the Commission undertaken, or caused to be undertaken, any studies of the impact of the proposed directive on alternative investment fund managers (AIFM Directive) on the balance of financial transactions between Member States and the rest of the world?
A - No studies have been undertaken on this specific issue.
Q - Will the Commission agree to meet a delegation to discuss the impact of the proposed directive on alternative investment fund managers (AIFM Directive)?
A - In line with the better regulation agenda, consultations of stakeholders and impact assessments are an inherent part of the way Commission services prepare EU initiatives, in particular legislative proposals. The President, various Commissioners and many officials of the Commission services have also held numerous meetings with stakeholders since the adoption of the proposal of the Directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM).
Q - What analyses or studies, particularly of costs and benefits, has the Commission conducted, or what such analyses or studies does it plan to conduct in relation to the impact of the proposed directive on alternative investment fund managers (AIFM Directive) on the terms of trade and turnover of, and the number of offerings made by, financial institutions, both public and private, in Member States?
A - The Commission has studied the potential impacts of the draft AIFM Directive in its impact assessment (SEC(2009)576). This study was in turn based on a number of other investigations, including external studies, expert groups, and public consultations, probably the most important being:
• Expert groups on alternative investments in the first half of 2006 followed by a public consultation on the expert group reports in the third quarter of 2006 and the same for real estate funds in 2008.
• Two studies on funds that are on the borderline between UCITS (harmonised retail funds) and alternative investment funds (AIF): Comparative study on investment powers December 2006 - January 2008 and Study on the retail distribution of non-harmonised funds December 2007 – September 2008.
• A call for evidence on private placement April – June 2007 and workshops on private placement January – February 2008.
• A consultation on hedge funds in December 2008 – January 2009 and a conference on hedge funds and private equity in February 2009.
After the adoption of the proposal, the Commission has continued its dialogue with stakeholders and has attentively followed the impact assessment and cost benefit analysis work conducted by the Parliament and other interested parties. These findings have fed into the negotiation process between the Council and the Parliament.
Q - Does the Commission anticipate any flight of capital, trade or private equity from Member States to the rest of the world consequent upon the implementation of the proposed AIFM Directive and, if so, can it provide details?
A - One of the lessons learned from the crisis is that a well-regulated financial sector, including regulation of alternative investment funds, is beneficial for all market participants. The Commission is therefore convinced that the Directive on Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM Directive) will contribute to the creation of an attractive business environment for AIFM in the EU and thereby benefit European professional investors.
As far to the possible flight of capital and trade, the Commission would like to refer the Honourable Member to its answers to previous questions.
Britain's yearly payment to remain a member of the EU.
Q - By next year Britain's net contribution will have doubled from what it was in 2008.
In 2020 there will be 4 to 7 new Member States at least . On their current economic performance, each one of the new Member States will be receiving cohesion funds (subsidies by another name) from the date they become members in 2020. Can therefore the British taxpayer anticipate a further doubling in Britain's net contribution to the European Union by 2020 and if not, why not?
A - We are waiting for a reply to the question above.
European Arrest Warrant
Q - Does the Commission intend that citizens of Member Countries extradited to other Member Countries via the European Arrest Warrant are held under the same terms and conditions under which they would have been in their country of citizenship?
A - Article 12 (Keeping the person in detention) of the Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on the European Arrest Warrant and the surrender procedures between Member States (2002/584/JHA) provides that when a person is arrested on the basis of a European arrest warrant, the executing judicial authority shall take a decision on whether the requested person should remain in detention, in accordance with the law of the executing Member State. The person may be released provisionally at any time in conformity with the domestic law of the executing Member State, provided that the competent authority of the said Member State takes all the measures it deems necessary to prevent the person from absconding.
Q - Will the Council confirm its commitment to self-determination of the Falklands in line with the UN Charter?
A - The Council has not discussed this issue.
Non-Eurozone and potential rescue package for Greece.
Q - Can the Commission confirm that the UK and other non-Eurozone members will never be even partly liable for any actual planned or potential rescue package for Greece?
A - Only non euro area Member States have received a financial support from the EU (Hungary, Romania, Latvia). The Heads of State and Government have indicated on 11th February 2010 that euro area Member States will take action, if needed, to safeguard financial stability in the euro area as a whole. They have also noted that the Greek authorities have not requested any financial support.
EU funding for the Ministry of Forestry in Indonesia
Q - 1. How much money is given to the Ministry of Forestry in Indonesia?
2. Which safeguards are in place to ensure that grants given to the Ministry of Forestry in Indonesia, which are given to ensure the preservation of the Indonesian rainforest and a reduction in deforestation, are spent on these goals and not lost or diverted along the way?
3. Is the Commission satisfied with these safeguards? If not, what plans are being considered to strengthen them?
4. How much of the money given so far can be accounted for? What benefits has the funding of this body produced for the taxpayer?
A - 1.Most of the resources provided by the EU to the Forestry sector in Indonesia over the past decades have been channelled under the EC-Indonesia Forestry Program (ECIFP), implemented between the mid-1990s and 2008. This programme included various projects related to biodiversity conservation, forest fire prevention, and sustainable forestry. Some activities were implemented through the Ministry of Forestry. More recently, the EU has committed additional funding to support the implementation of the Forest law Enforcement, Governance and Trade Action Plan in Indonesia, implemented through the Ministry of Forestry. In parallel with bilateral cooperation projects, the EU provides funding to civil society organizations under the EU's thematic program for "Environment, Sustainable Management of Natural Resources, including energy" (ENRTP). Various projects funded under this programme have been / are implemented in Indonesia. Breakdown is as follows:
• ECIFP: EUR 81 million disbursed between 1995 and 2008;
• FLEGT Support Project: project on-going for which a budget of EUR 14.9 million has been committed.
• Projects funded under ENRTP: currently four ongoing projects with a budget of EUR 5.2 million.
Additional information on the achievements of these programmes is provided under the reply to question four, below.
2. The EU applies strict rules for both technical and financial monitoring of all its development cooperation actions. Like in any sector of cooperation, each project funded by the EU in Indonesia in the area of sustainable forest management and forest conservation is subject to:
• Results oriented monitoring, conducted by independent consultants. Measuring progress against contractually agreed project objectives is the main purpose of these monitoring missions. Each project is subject to this monitoring exercise on a yearly basis, or every two years in case other reviews are organized the same year.
• Mid-term reviews and final evaluations for projects implemented in the context of financing agreements concluded with the Government of Indonesia. These reviews are also conducted by independent consultants and provide in-depth analysis of project achievements and challenges, which are then closely followed up by implementing agencies and the EU Delegation.
• Financial audits conducted for each project, normally on a yearly basis, with the exception of small scale projects which are only subject to financial audits on a less regular basis. These audits are conducted by internationally recognized firms, in accordance with EU regulations.
• Close follow up from EU Delegation staff (including monitoring missions, analysis and feedback on implementation reports).
3. The above-mentioned safeguards provide a robust technical and financial monitoring of all projects. The mixture of independent monitoring and EU Delegation staff follow-up on a regular basis provide opportunities for timely reactions in case any problem is identified.
4. The independent evaluation of the ECIFP (EUR 81 million disbursed between 1995 and 2008) concluded that most actions funded under this programme, namely protected area conservation, forest fire control, illegal logging control, spatial planning for regional natural resource management and local community involvement, were highly relevant to Indonesia's needs. While some of the projects supported under ECIFP have not been able to achieve all their objectives, considered too ambitious by the external evaluation, most projects have satisfactorily achieved their individual objectives.
These included in particular the establishment of an integrated provincial level forest fire management system (South Sumatra Forest Fire Management Project), improved awareness and response to the problem of illegal logging (Illegal Logging Response Centre), conservation and design of a long term management plan for a two million ha forest area (Leuser ecosystem development project).
The Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) Support Project (project on-going for which a budget of EUR 14.9 million has been committed over 2005-2011) has so far completed the following activities and contributed to the accomplishment of the following results:
• On the law enforcement side, a new draft law on illegal logging has been finalised, investigations have been conducted by forest police with project support and led to prosecution cases and a coordination desk established at the coordinating ministry for political and security affairs.
• On governance: eight information centres were established and integrated to the local government structures, two working groups on timber industry restructuring were established in Jambi and West Kalimantan, and training conducted on improved conflict resolution skills at provincial level.
• Silviculture: a new regulation on community forestry was developed and support provided to pilot areas in Jambi province.
• Timber trade: a new regulation on timber legality verification was adopted and implementation is being prepared. The project has been instrumental in proving technical expertise, organizing consultation seminars in key provinces and organizing capacity building activities on the implementation of this new law;
• FLEGT Coordination: Awareness on illegal logging and response significantly improved at the central level and in pilot provinces through the production of educational movies, participation in exhibition and seminars, organization of radio/TV talk shows, production of brochures etc.
Additional information on results achieved can be found on the project website , including planning documents, reports and information on project budget expenditures which are made available to the public in a transparent way. In line with EU standard procedures, this project is subject to independent monitoring on a yearly basis and recommendations are taken into account in the planning cycle.
There are currently four on-going projects funded under the Environment and Natural Resources Thematic Programme (ENRTP) with a budget of EUR 5.2 million (over 2005-2014).
In addition, a recent independent assessment conducted by Chatham House on the impact of the global effort against illegal logging between 2001 and 2006 (in relation to the EU FLEGT initiatives) concludes that:
"If illegal logging had continued at the rate and scale seen in 2000, then during the five years 2001-2006 around 160 million cubic metres more timber would have been illegally cut in Indonesia than was actually harvested – representing around 7.8 million hectares of forest saved from being seriously degraded or destroyed, slightly more forest than is estimated by the FAO as lost each year worldwide.
… Around $ 4 billion in government revenues have been collected in Indonesia that would not have been if the rate of illegal logging had continued at previous levels."
These findings support the EU in its assessment that its contribution to the global fight against illegal logging through the FLEGT Action Plan is paying off.
Q - Coupons and dividends. Will the Commission outline which coupons and dividends are the subject of payment suspension under the terms of the state aid commitment made to it by Lloyds Banking Group, and how and why they were selected?
Q - State aid commitment and Lloyds Bank. Will the Commission outline which terms of the state aid commitment made to it by Lloyds Banking Group necessitate the suspension of discretionary payments of coupons or dividends on certain hybrid capital securities and preference shares for a period of two years?
Q - Suspension of discretionary payments of coupons or dividends Lloyd Banking Group. Will the Commission outline whether it was its intention that the state aid commitment made to it by Lloyds Banking Group would necessitate the suspension of discretionary payments of coupons or dividends on certain hybrid capital securities and preference shares for a period of two years, and why it believes this suspension of income for the holders of such securities and shares is necessary and for what purpose?
Will the Commission set out comparable examples for other banks and financial institutions of terms of the state aid commitment made to it which require the suspension of payments of coupons or dividends?
A - We are waiting for a reply to the questions above.
EU funding Turkey membership.
Q - In 2009 Turkey was eligible for €566 million in pre-accession assistance from the EU. Can the Commission inform what further funding is planned?
A - Within the current financial perspective, under the Multi-Annual Indicative Financing Framework for the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA), current indicative allocations for Turkey are EUR 653.7 million for 2010 and EUR 781.9 million for 2011 and EUR 899.5 million for 2012.
Advertising in Ireland.
Q - How much money did the EU spend on advertising in Ireland in the following periods: 01.07.09 to 31.07.09 - 01.08.09 to 31.08.09 - 01.09.09 to 30.09.09 and how much money did the EU spend in the same period the year before?
A - It is the Commission's role to contribute to an informed debate about the European Union, by providing factual, accurate and clear information to citizens. This includes information about the new Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1st December 2009.
The existence of a significant information deficit about the EU in Ireland has been evidenced by research findings and by the conclusions of the Oireachtas (the Irish Parliament) sub-committee's report of November 2008 on Ireland's future in the European Union.
In response to a demand for factual information about the EU, in January 2009, the European Parliament and the European Commission signed a three year Memorandum of Understanding on Communicating Europe in Partnership with the Irish Government. In the framework of this memorandum, the signing parties acquired a one-year contract worth €1.5 million to develop and implement a number of information and communication initiatives in Ireland in relation to the European Union, its policies and institutions.
Trade and the External Action Service
Q - Can the Commission confirm that all matters relating to Trade will be kept entirely separate from the activities of the External Action Service?
A - The Commission will continue to be assisted by its Directorate-General for Trade to fulfil its responsibilities regarding all aspects of the EU Common Commercial Policy, as provided for in the Treaties. In addition, the EU Delegations shall comprise Commission staff where this is appropriate for the implementation of Union policies such as the Common Commercial policy.
As the Union must ensure consistency between the different areas of its external action (as well as between these and its other policies), the European External Action Service (EEAS) shall work in cooperation with the services of the Commission. They shall consult each other on all matters relating to the external action of the Union in the exercise of their respective functions except when the issue exclusively concerns Common Security and Defence Policy.
Q - To what extent did (Baroness) Catherine Ashton disclose to the Commission her background as one of four paid employees of CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament) and then CND's Treasurer?
1 - Prior to Ashton's appointment as Trade Commissioner. 2 - Prior to Ashton's appointment as High Representative?
Note: You will be aware that there is currently no mention of Ashton's time with CND on the Commission's website.
A - The designation of Baroness Ashton as High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy followed the procedure set out in Article 18 of the TUE (Treaty on the European Union), which requires a qualified majority of the European Council, with the agreement of the President of the Commission. In reality Baroness Ashton secured the consensual support of the members of the European Council.
Her nomination by the European Council on 1 December 2009 shows that she is fully qualified to assume the responsibilities of High Representative and Vice-President.
Q - The answer the Commission has given relates only to Baroness Ashton's qualifications. My written question addressed ONLY the matter of Baroness Ashton's disclosure of her background in CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament). Again, to what extent did Catherine Ashton disclose to the Commission her background as one of four paid employees of CND (the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament), CND's Treasurer and then CND's Vice-Chair, prior to Ashton's appointment as Trade Commissioner and prior to Ashton's appointment as High Representative?
Note: You will be aware that there is still no mention of Ashton's time with CND on the Commission's website.
A - The Code of conduct for Commissioners foresees that Commissioners must fulfil a declaration of interests which might create a conflict of interests in the performance of their duties, covering also outside activities in foundations or similar bodies over the last 10 years .
Baroness Ashton's participation in 'The campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) dates from a long time before this and therefore does not require to be included in the declaration of interests of the Vice President/ High representative, nor on the Commission's website.
It should be noted that Baroness Ashton's work for CND is in the public domain in recognised publications such as "Who's Who".
Sri Lanka and the generalised system of preferences.
Q - Has the Commission made an evaluation of the consequences to the Sri Lankan economy of the withdrawal of GSP+?
A - The Commission has not made a specific evaluation of this question.
The Commission is well aware that the Council Implementing Regulation temporarily withdrawing Generalised system of preferences (GSP+) benefits from Sri Lanka will enter into force on 15 August 2010 (i.e. six months after it was adopted) unless the Council before then, on a proposal from the Commission, decides otherwise. This delay in application of the decision is specifically intended to allow Sri Lanka the opportunity to take action to address the problems with effective implementation of United Nations human rights conventions forming part of the qualifying criteria for GSP+ and identified during the earlier Commission investigation. If this is the case, then the Commission will propose to the Council that it re-establish GSP+ benefits for the country.
Towards this end, the Commission remains in regular dialogue with the Government of Sri Lanka and will closely monitor relevant developments.
If the temporary withdrawal of GSP+ benefits does take effect in August 2010, imports from Sri Lanka will be subject to the standard GSP regime and, therefore, enjoy the same preferential access to the EU market as those from other developing countries that do not satisfy the qualifying criteria for GSP+. Even in this case, applied tariffs on key export items for Sri Lanka such as clothing will still be lower in the EU than in other major developed countries.
Q - Can the Commission explain the following:
What EU bonds are issued? What are planned to be issued? What is the liability of the Member States? And what is the liability of the UK?
A - Through bond issues the EU finances loans to Member States which have not yet adopted the euro in the form of balance of payments support.
Through bond issues the EU may also finance loans to non-EU Member States in the form of macro-financial assistance. This facility has been only marginally used in recent years but in future may become increasingly important, depending on Council Decisions in favour of potential beneficiary countries.
Five bonds, for a total amount of EUR 9.2 billion, have been issued since December 2008, to finance balance of payments support to Hungary, Latvia and Romania.
A EUR 1.5 billion bond issue has been launched and disbursed in March 2010 to finance the second instalment of the loan to Romania and the third instalment of the loan to Latvia.
Thereafter, under the current loan commitments decided by the Council in favour of Hungary, Latvia and Romania a further EUR 3.9 billion remain undisbursed.
As all bond issues of the EU finance loans are made "back-to-back", the capital and interest payments by the borrower to the EU match exactly the EU's obligations to pay capital and interest on its bonds.
Only in the case where a beneficiary country defaults, would the payments under the corresponding bond have to be made either from the budget of the European Union which is funded by the Member States or from dedicated funding called by the Commission from Member States specifically to ensure compliance with the EU's legal obligations in cases of default. So far no such default has ever occurred.
Normally none. However, if a beneficiary country defaulted and other measures to ensure compliance with the EU's legal obligations were not possible, the United Kingdom would be asked to contribute, normally temporarily, to the dedicated funding mentioned above, in principle in proportion to its contribution to the estimated budget revenue of the Commission.
Trade Agreement Ecuador.
Q - Are there any plans or proposals or is it under consideration to revise, modify or otherwise alter the existing Trade Agreements between Ecuador and the EU?
A - EU relations with Ecuador are currently regulated by the Framework Agreement on Cooperation of 1993 and the GSP+ scheme which has been autonomously granted by the EU to Ecuador as part of our development policy agenda. The framework of our bilateral relations was also updated in 2003 with the adoption of the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement which is still pending ratification in Greece and Colombia and has therefore not yet entered into force.
The Commission started negotiating with the Andean Community for a region-to-region association agreement, including political dialogue, cooperation and trade, in June 2007. However, these negotiations were suspended in June 2008 after disagreement between Andean countries on approaches to a number of key trade issues became insurmountable. New negotiations for a Trade Agreement were launched in January 2009 between the EU and Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. In July 2009 Ecuador suspended its participation in the talks and negotiations therefore continued only with Peru and Colombia.
Negotiations for the Trade Agreement with Colombia and Peru have been recently finalised at technical level. That agreement is also open to the accession of other countries members of the CAN, including Ecuador. Recently, the latter has formally requested to re-join the negotiations of the trade agreement and the Commission has welcomed this news. The Ecuadorian administration and the Commission are planning to organise soon a technical meeting to assess prospects for re-starting the negotiations and agree on a way forward.
Trade agreement Belarus.
Q - Are there any plans, proposals or is it under consideration to revise, modify or otherwise alter the existing trade agreements between Belarus and the EU?
A - Belarus is not a member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Negotiations are ongoing but Belarus still needs to make significant progress to be able to join this organisation. WTO accession is a prerequisite for further development of trade relations. Once this basic criterion fulfilled it could be possible to examine to what extent is Belarus able to negotiate and undertake further bilateral trade commitments. The process of the ratification of the EU-Belarus Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) has been frozen since 1997 due to a deterioration of the human rights situation in Belarus. As a result, the EU and Belarus continue to apply the 1989 EU-USSR Trade and Cooperation Agreement which lays down very basic principles of trade.
The bilateral agreement on trade in textile and clothing products expired at the end of 2009. Belarus did not want to renew it, indicating that the customs union created with Russia and Kazakhstan prevented them from continuing this agreement. Consequently, as from 1 January 2010, the EU is applying autonomous quantitative restrictions on imports from Belarus in trade in textile and clothing products. The scope and level of the quantitative restrictions are identical to the levels applied in 2009 under the bilateral agreement.
Belarus was withdrawn from the list of beneficiaries of the EU Generalised System of Preferences following an investigation which demonstrated that Belarus failed to respect core ILO obligations relating to freedom of association of workers. The trade preferences can be re-established at any time provided that Belarus fully respects those basic rights included in two ILO Conventions No. 87 and 98.
Trade Agreement Egypt.
Q - Are there any plans or proposals or is it under consideration to revise, modify or otherwise alter the existing Trade Agreements between Egypt and the EU?
A - Currently the Association Agreement with Egypt which entered into force on 1 June 2004 forms the legal basis governing relations between Egypt and the EU. The core of the Association Agreement establishes a Free Trade Area between the EU and Egypt, which implies reciprocal tariff liberalisation for industrial and agricultural goods. As with other Mediterranean countries, the Association Agreement with Egypt covers mainly trade in goods. It is being completed with a number of on-going negotiations in areas of interest to the EU and Egypt.
In 2005 the Council has authorised the Commission to conduct negotiations with Southern and Eastern Mediterranean countries, in order to achieve greater liberalisation of reciprocal trade in agricultural, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products in accordance with the Euro-Mediterranean Roadmap for Agriculture (Rabat roadmap). Egypt and the EU signed an agreement in October 2009 which will soon enter into force. In addition, negotiations to complement the Association Agreement continue with Egypt in a number of other areas, in particular on the liberalisation of trade in services and establishment and on a more efficient dispute settlement mechanism for the trade provisions of the Association Agreement.
Finally, as a part of the work under the Euromed Trade Roadmap beyond 2010, the Commission will also launch work on the deepening of the Association Agreements to turn them into deep and comprehensive Free Trade Agreements as soon as progress has been made in on-going negotiations and each Southern Mediterranean partner is ready. The objective is to remove not only tariff but also non tariff barriers.
Trade agreement El Salvador.
Q - Are there any plans or proposals, or is it under consideration, to revise, modify or otherwise alter the existing trade agreements between El Salvador and the EU?
A - The EU concluded on 18 May 2010 an Association Agreement with Central America: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.
EU funding to Montenegro.
Q - Can the Commission advise how much funding has been provided to Montenegro and what further funding is planned?
A - With reference to the question by the Honourable Member regarding EU funding for Montenegro, EU assistance to Montenegro has totalled EUR 86.5 million under CARDS between 2002-2006.
In the period 2007-2009, IPA has provided EUR 97.3 million for institution-building and transition assistance, component I, as well as for cross-border cooperation, component II.
The current Multi-Annual Indicative Financial Framework 2010-2013 allocates another EUR 137,875,200 to Montenegro.
The key priorities include the strengthening of rule of law, in particular the judiciary and the police, the reform of the public administration, socio-economic development as well as progressive alignment with European Standards.
Montenegro is also entitled to benefit from regional and horizontal programmes under IPA, which amount to a total of EUR 723 million for 2007-2011 for the Western Balkans and Turkey.
Trade agreement China.
Q - Are there any plans, proposals or is it under consideration to revise, modify or otherwise alter the existing trade agreements between China and the EU?
A - The Commission is currently negotiating a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with China. The negotiating mandate to launch negotiations on a new Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with China, including aspects of trade and investment, was approved by the Council in December 2005. The trade and investment part of these negotiations comprise an upgrade of the 1985 EU China Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement. Three rounds of negotiations have taken place in 2009, and the 6th round of trade talks took place in March 2010 in Beijing. The EU is keen to conclude these negotiations.
Proposals on vitamins and minerals in food supplements.
Q - Can the Commission ensure that its officials will not bring forward proposals that will deny millions of consumers across Europe continued access to safe, popular and healthy higher potency vitamin and mineral supplements of their choice?
Can the Commission ensure that the maximum permitted dose levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements, which are about to be proposed, are not set at unnecessarily low levels?
A - We are waiting for a reply to the question above.
Food supplements - maximum permitted levels.
Q - When coming forward with proposals to implement Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive (2002/46/EC) , concerning maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements, can the Commission reassure local companies in my constituency that the proposed levels will be based on the following criteria:
• They will ensure that food supplements are safe.
• They will ensure that food supplements are useful and of an adequate quality.
• They will be based on scientific advice, taking into account the amount of vitamins and minerals which may be consumed from other sources.
• That the Commission will take full account of the results of the different impact assessments which have been conducted regarding the impact on health food manufacturers and retailers.
A - We are waiting for a reply to the question above.