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2001 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 235 E/113

deficit. This measure would be imposed on the regions despite the fact that the national constitution and
their own statutes of autonomy endow them with the legislative power to draw up and adopt their own
budgets, within general national rules which, while limiting deficits, nonetheless permit them, as is the case
for all national or territorial entities enjoying political and legislative autonomy. This decision has been
defended by the Spanish minister Mr Cristóbal Montoro, in a speech full of attacks on the opposition
parties in which he alluded to Spain’s ‘pioneering’ role in the EU and to the ‘recommendations of the Santa
Maria da Feira Council’ held under the Portuguese presidency. It is extraordinary that the Spanish state,
which receives large amounts of funding from the EU and still has major infrastructural deficits to make
up, should dogmatically seek to impose a zero deficit on all budgets, thus riding roughshod over the
statutes of autonomy. Does the Commission consider that these budgetary decisions of the Spanish
government, affecting the regions as they do, are an appropriate response to EU guidelines? Is the
Commission aware that this attitude on the part of the Spanish national authorities is part of a political
offensive intended to reduce the existing powers of the nations and regions of the Spanish state as
recognised by the constitution and the statutes of autonomy?

Answer given by Mr Solbes Mira on behalf of the Commission

(28 March 2001)

In accordance with the ‘Stability and Growth Pact’ all Member States have committed themselves to
respecting a medium-term objective for the general government budgetary position of close to balance or
in surplus (1). There is broad agreement that achieving this goal contributes to a stable macroeconomic
framework on a sound basis. In the 2000 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines it was recommended that
Spain achieve and possibly improve upon the budgetary targets in the updated Spanish Stability
Programme for 1999-2003, which the Council considered to be in conformity with the Stability and
Growth Pact.

However, the Commission does not suggest how the necessary internal co-ordination between the different
general government sub-sectors should be organised to fulfil the objectives of the Stability and Growth
Pact. This decision lies with each Member State. This is especially relevant for those Member States with
highly decentralised fiscal systems. In the case of Spain, the 2000 Broad Economic Policy Guidelines
recommended continuation and full respect of co-ordination between the regions and the State. In
addition, the Council Opinion on the updated Spanish Stability Programme 1999-2003 welcomed the
sharing out of the budgetary adjustment among all sub-sectors of government. It also particularly
welcomed the fact that the budgets of territorial governments were targeted to be in balance from 2001.

Additionally, it is worth noting that the Commission and Council have always encouraged deficit reduction
strategies relying primarily on current expenditure restraint, which make room for capital expenditure.

(1) OJ C 236, 2.8.1997.

(2001/C 235 E/118) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0083/01

by Camilo Nogueira Román (Verts/ALE) to the Council

(1 February 2001)

Subject: Aid for development and national self-government in East Timor. Situation of the refugees in West
Timor (Indonesia)

What concrete information is available on the aid granted by the EU for economic and social development
and the setting-up of institutions of national self-government in East Timor, and what is the present
situation concerning this aid? How has this aid contributed to meeting the basic social and economic needs
of East Timor’s society? What is the situation of the 1000 refugees in West Timor, who are still the target
of persecution? What action is the EU taking to enable these refugees to return home?
C 235 E/114 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 21.8.2001


(14 May 2001)

The European Community as well as the Member States have provided extensive support to East Timor
over the last two years. This support has been provided in a number of ways including through assessed
and other contributions to UNTAET, voluntary contributions to the UNTAET and World Bank Trust
Funds, humanitarian assistance disbursed through grants to international agencies, organisations and
agencies, and bilateral aid programmes on the ground. In addition, a number of Member States have
been involved in helping to establish East Timor’s institutions, including through identifying its future
defence needs and assistance to its judiciary, as well as through providing training and direct contributions
in kind to its future Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Council, like the Honourable Member, is also concerned at the plight of the refugees from East Timor
who remain in West Timor. It recognises the pressing need for the earliest possible registration,
repatriation and resettlement of all the refugees, in conditions of safety and security. It has conveyed
these concerns to the Indonesian authorities on a number of occasions, and including at the very highest
level. It has reminded the Indonesian Government of its willingness to support, alongside the relevant
international organisations, a comprehensive solution to the refugee problem, in conformity with UN
Security Council Resolutions 1319 (2000) and 1338 (2001).

(2001/C 235 E/119) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0084/01

by Camilo Nogueira Román (Verts/ALE) to the Council

(1 February 2001)

Subject: Situation of the Tibetan Ngawamg Sangdrol, held in Drapchi prison in Tibet by the Chinese

The young Tibetan Ngawamg Sangdrol is being held in Drapchi prison in Tibet, in one of the most
flagrant cases of death or imprisonment perpetrated by the repressive forces of the Chinese state. The
Chinese authorities have arrested her because of her prominent role in the struggle of her people for
freedom, and have sentenced her to imprisonment up to 2013. This case calls for extraordinary action by
the Council: the imprisonment of Ngawamg Sangdrol has already induced a group of MEPs to propose her
name for the Sakharov Prize for 2000. Is the Council taking the political actions required to obtain her


(14 May 2001)

1. The EU raises individual cases of prisoners with the Chinese authorities, in particular during the
sessions of the EU  China human rights dialogue. Because of its sensitiveness, the list of individual cases
is confidential.

2. In the conclusions of the General Affairs Council of January 2001 on the EU  China human rights
dialogue, the EU has expressed its concern at ‘the continuing widespread restrictions on freedom of
assembly, expression and association, the violations of freedom of religion and belief, the situation of
minorities, including in Tibet’. The conclusions have also identified specific areas in which the EU will be
seeking progress through the dialogue. These include, in particular, respect for cultural rights and religious
freedoms in Tibet, a halt to the ‘patriotic education’ campaign in Tibet and a constructive response to
individual cases raised by the EU.