Parliamentary question by Gianfranco Dell'Alba (TDI) to the Commission and answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission

Parliamentary questions
by Gianfranco Dell'Alba (TDI) to the Commission
(24 November 1999)

Subject: Objective 2 for the 2000-2006 period and the reasons for the rejection of Italy's proposals

The Commission has declared the Italian government's proposals concerning the areas eligible for Objective 2 for the 2000-2006 period "inadmissible", has refused to examine their contents, and has asked the government to rewrite them all.

This refusal is likely to delay considerably the allocation of funds to the regions and the subsequent implementation of structural policies, and also to jeopardise, perhaps to the benefit of other countries, the funds' commitment and expenditure capacities.

When the framework regulation on the Structural Funds was adopted, the Commission was supposed to have committed itself to taking into account the particular circumstances of individual Member States when making an overall examination of the eligible zones.

Can the Commission answer the following questions:

1. What are the reasons that have led to this drastic decision, for which there is not even any provision in the above-mentioned regulation?
2. Does the Commission not consider that it has failed to take sufficient account of possible opportunities for derogation connected with Italy's particular circumstances?

Answer given by Mr Barnier
on behalf of the Commission
(21 January 2000)

1. The proposed list of areas eligible for Objective 2 sent to the Commission by the Italian authorities on 1 October 1999 was considered not to be acceptable because it did not comply with Article 4(4) of Council Regulation No 1260/1999 of 21 June 1999 laying down general provisions on the Structural Funds(1). This paragraph stipulates that in each Member State the areas meeting the "Community" criteria laid down in Article 4(5) and (6) must contain at least 50 % of the population eligible for Objective 2 assistance. However, the areas put forward by the Italian authorities in compliance with these criteria contained only 2,2 million people (i.e. only 29,6 % of the total eligible population).

2. The Commission considers that the Regulation, which was adopted by all the Member States and received the assent of the European Parliament, provides considerable scope for accommodating the specific circumstances of Italy and that it is not necessary to resort to derogations from the regulatory framework.

For example, the Italian authorities are not obliged to submit a proposal for all of the areas meeting the Community criteria (the population of which is 5 021 900). All they are required to submit is a list of areas satisfying these criteria in which the total population is at least 3 701 000.

They are also permitted to calculate 50 % of the eligible population according to "national" criteria laid down in Article 4(7) to (9) of the Regulation.

(1) OJ L 161, 26.6.1999.