C 118/84

Official Journal of the European Communities



2. The Commission would recall that the limits applicable to regional and tax policies are aimed at the proper functioning of the single market and therefore, ultimately, at achieving the objectives of the Treaty, namely the harmonious and balanced development of economic activities and economic and social cohesion. Consequently, from the point of view of convergence of economic performances, regional problems must be resolved using the instruments − and there are many − available for precisely this purpose, such as the Structural Funds and the national measures which the Commission authorises within the framework of its competition policy to support the development of certain areas. With regard to existing aid in Wales, the Commission would inform the Honourable Member that this is investment aid in the form of subsidies and equity holdings. There are also several aid schemes (training and business consultancy) for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The intensity of this aid, which is mostly concentrated in Liverpool and Cardiff, ranges from 20 % to 30 % net. 3. According to information in the Commission’s possession, the tax aid for area contracts and territorial pacts is investment aid granted under a scheme approved by the Commission in June 1997. It concerns in particular tax credits granted solely to companies which undertake investment and in proportion to the investment to be undertaken. This aid is compatible with the rules on state aid because it is linked to investment. As regards conformity with the rules laid down by the code of conduct, it has not been examined by the working group as it came into force before the code itself. 4. With regard to tax instruments which may be used to encourage the development of disadvantaged regions, the Commission could consider reductions in direct tax linked to new investment or job creation as being compatible with its policy on state aid. It should be remembered that these measures should be communicated to the working group set up under the code of conduct since they could be in breach of the code. VAT reductions, on the other hand, are not possible, unless authorised by the Council.

(1999/C 118/106)

WRITTEN QUESTION E-2474/98 by Claudia Roth (V) to the Council (1 September 1998)

Subject: Camps for illegal foreign migrants in Turkey Can the Council confirm what is stated in document No 6938/1/98 Rev 1 Limite Asim 78, dated 21 April 1998, the title of which is ‘influx of migrants from Iraq and the neighbouring region: report of the meetings held in Istanbul and Ankara on 9 and 10 March 1998’? This document describes plans to set up ‘reception centres’ for illegal migrants and the refusal of the Turkish authorities to involve the UNHCR. Can the Council provide details of how far advanced this project is? Can it specify what kind of people would be liable to be placed in these camps and how many people they might house? Can it give a precise definition of the term ‘illegal migrant’? Is this project not aimed at preventing people who wish to exercise their right to claim asylum in the EU from gaining access to the procedure? What role will in fact be played by the HCR and the ONGs active in this field? Does the Council not see a contradiction between the refusal to negotiate an agreement on Turkey’s accession to the EU, because of the lack of respect for human rights in that country, and negotiations on projects such as this, where there is no guarantee that the Geneva Convention and the international conventions on human rights will be adhered to?



Official Journal of the European Communities

C 118/85

Can the Council indicate which budget headings might be used to fund such projects?

Does the Council not consider that this project is profoundly at odds with the spirit and the letter of the Geneva Convention and does it not consider that it should be immediately and definitively abandoned?

Reply (30 November 1998)

The Council confirms the accuracy of the information reported in the document mentioned by the Honourable Member, which refers to contacts made with the Turkish authorities in the framework of the EU Action Plan on the influx of migrants from Iraq and the neighbouring region.

Through such contacts, the Council learned that the existing reception centres in Turkey for temporary shelter of illegal immigrants before removal are insufficient to cope with the increasing flow of illegal immigrants arriving in Turkey. The Council believes that, as a result, the Turkish authorities are planning to set up, at their own expense, new reception centres to enlarge the capacity of the existing infrastructures, although they might be willing to receive financial assistance from the European Union.

The competent bodies of the Council have agreed to examine, in consultation with UNHCR, the humanitarian benefits of assistance to Turkey in the improvement of conditions for detaining illegal immigrants prior to removal. Although the Council considered that such assistance could be made with the involvement of UNHCR and thus result in some influence on further development of refugee processing by Turkey, the Turkish authorities insisted that the purpose of this exercise should be merely the improvement of the reception conditions of illegal immigrants. This position was maintained throughout the meetings held with the Turkish authorities.

On 19 March and 28 May 1998, the Council (Justice and Home Affairs) took note of the ongoing cooperation with Turkey as regards the improvement of conditions for detaining illegal immigrants prior to removals.

On 25 June 1998 a meeting took place between the K.4 Committee and a Turkish delegation, during which the participants discussed the question of cooperation in the implementation of the Action Plan on the influx of migrants from Iraq and the neighbouring regions. It was also decided that a mission led by the Presidency would visit Turkey in November to pursue the dialogue on this matter.

The project for the improvement of conditions for detaining illegal immigrants has not been finalised as yet, and no further information is available at the moment, in particular on possible financing through the EC budget.

The Council emphasises, however, that the project is certainly not aimed at preventing potential asylumseekers from lodging their applications in the EU. The Council stresses that it attaches great importance to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. In the framework of the dialogue and cooperation between the EU and Turkey, the promotion of human rights is considered a fundamental objective.

In addition, the Council is aware of the fact that substantial numbers of the migrants arriving from Iraq and the neighbouring region are properly recognised as refugees under the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or granted some other form of status in Member States for humanitarian reasons and fully recognises the importance of ensuring that humanitarian considerations continue to be given proper weight and that Member States’ obligations to provide protection in accordance with international law continue to be honoured. This recognition is an integral part of the Action Plan, as well as an essential component of the contacts established with Turkey pursuant to this Action Plan.