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C 289/62 Official Journal of the European Communities EN 11.10.


(1999/C 289/081) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3569/98

by Manuel Escolá Hernando (ARE) to the Commission

(1 December 1998)

Subject: Rural exodus

The rural exodus affecting large parts of the Autonomous Community of Aragon has resulted in the total
abandonment of over one hundred villages in recent decades. Many of the former inhabitants of these villages
migrated to cities in view of the lack of prospects in their places of origin whilst others had to leave their
homes as a result of expropriations in connection with water management works or other projects.

At present, new sources of income provided by the tourism, leisure and outdoor pursuits industry and the
growth in second homes have allowed some of these villages to be brought back to life. In fact, there are
already over a dozen projects in the Aragonese Pyrenees, supported by various citizens’ associations and by the
former inhabitants of some of these villages who have requested the return of their former homes, which show
that this is viable.

However, in most cases, the lack of basic infrastructure such as the supply of drinking water and electricity,
access roads, waste tips etc. constitutes an obstacle to the realization of such rehabilitation projects.

In view of the implications of such projects in terms of town and country planning, the repopulation of run-
down areas, job and wealth creation and environmental protection, does the Commission consider that it
would be possible to lend support to such social initiatives, particularly given the potential benefits to society
as a whole?

Does the Commission currently provide any support?

Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission

(18 January 1999)

Infrastructure renewal for abandoned villages can be part-financed from the Structural Funds, notably the
Guidance Section of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund under Article 5(c) of Council
Regulation No 2085/93 (1). It is however necessary to demonstrate the value of the investments for rural
development, their cost-effectiveness in securing the objectives set out in the single programming document
(SPD), their viability and their contribution to job creation. The purpose of village renewal is to develop the
area in question and improve the living conditions and quality of life of its inhabitants. This does not rule out a
spillover benefit to owners of second homes or to the pursuit of other activities from infrastructure
improvement under a project of general scope.

Under the SPD for the Aragon Region, the Structural Funds are part-financing some village renewal and
development projects. Projects are selected, in line with the priorities set in the SPD, by the national, regional
and local authorities responsible for the Member State’s financial contribution.

It is up to these authorities to select the projects of greatest interest. There is no specific bar on renewal of
abandoned villages.

(1) OJ L 193, 31.7.1993.

(1999/C 289/082) WRITTEN QUESTION P-3572/98

by Astrid Thors (ELDR) to the Commission

(18 November 1998)

Subject: Transport of cash

The Finnish Cabinet has taken a decision in principle to adopt an action programme for 1999-2001 aimed at
combating economic crime and the ‘grey’ economy.