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C 261 E/214 Official Journal of the European Communities Answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission (8 May 2001) EN 18.9.2001 The Commission is sending the Honourable Member and Parliament’s Secretariat a copy of the results of the study used as the basis for the section on the contribution of the common agricultural policy to cohesion in the Second Report on Economic and Social Cohesion (1). (1) COM(2001) 24 final. (2001/C 261 E/244) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0898/01 by Renato Brune
  Answer given by Mr Barnier on behalf of the Commission (8 May 2001) The Commission is sending the Honourable Member and Parliament’s Secretariat a copy of the results of the study used as the basis for the section on the contribution of the common agricultural policy tocohesion in the Second Report on Economic and Social Cohesion( 1 ). ( 1 ) COM(2001)24 final. (2001/C261E/244) WRITTEN QUESTION E-0898/01by Renato Brunetta (PPE-DE), Francesco Fiori (PPE-DE),Vitaliano Gemelli (PPE-DE), Raffaele Lombardo (PPE-DE), Cristiana Muscardini (UEN),Francesco Speroni (TDI) and Antonio Tajani (PPE-DE) to the Commission (28 March 2001)Subject: Divergences between estimates and final figures in Italian macroeconomic data: impact on theCommission’s assessmentsOn 1 March 2001 ISTAT (the Italian National Statistical Institute) published the annual final figures for theItalian national accounts, with its estimates for gross domestic product (GDP) for 2000 and corrections of the estimates for 1997-1999 with respect to the estimates given last year.These data reveal considerable variations concerning household consumption (+1,5%), imports (+1,5%),investments (+1,3%) and GDP (+0,7%).It is difficult to reconcile the data issued for 2000 with the statistical information that had been madeavailable to date. The average revision to the GDP growth rate for the three-year period 1997-1999 is over14%, the household consumption growth rate has been revised by over 30% and the growth rate ininvestments by over 70%.ISTAT has also issued a list of the new statistical sources on which it has based the revision of itsestimates. There is a significant discrepancy between the signals which emerge from data on economictrends (including the national quarterly economic accounts) and the annual final data.The conflict between the information on economic trends and the annual data prompts the fear that theshort-term economic indicators on which ISTAT bases its own quarterly accounts are becoming more andmore biased and less reliable.Can the Commission say: whether the new statistical sources used by ISTAT are known to the Community institutions? whether the revisions made by ISTAT have any effect on the assessments of the Italian economy,which under the EC Treaty it is bound to evaluate? finally, what action it intends to take in this regard? Answer given by Mr Solbes Mira on behalf of the Commission (5 June 2001) The Italian national statistical institute (ISTAT) has indeed published the annual figures for Italy’s grossdomestic product for 2000, plus the corrections for 1997-1999, which turned out to be fairly substantial.C261E/214 EN 18.9.2001Official Journal of the European Communities  The scale of these corrections may be due to a number of factors, such as the difficult initial phase of implementing the new system of national accounts  the European System of National and RegionalAccounts in the Community (ESA 95)  which includes new statistical sources and major changes to theconcepts used in the previous system. The other Member States are in the same situation and it will take awhile until the systems for calculation have settled down properly.In the case of other Member States, major corrections of their growth rates (estimates for 2000 against1999 and for 1998) related to the following aggregates:GDP: Belgium: −0,3 Spain: +0,4 Netherlands:+0,4 United Kingdom: +0,5 Italy: +0,2Household consumption: Belgium: −0,5 Spain: +0,4 United Kingdom: +0,8 Italy: +0,5Investments: Belgium: +0,9 Germany: +1,6 Spain: +0,5 Netherlands: −1,1 Italy: +0,7Another factor in the size of the corrections is the increasing pressure on Member States  see theCouncil’s Action Plan of 29 September 2000 on the statistics required for Economic and Monetary Union(EMU)  to provide quarterly GDP statistics at increasingly short notice. As a result, in the space of oneyear the period for reporting results for Italy has gone from 80 days to 70 days after the end of thequarter, with rapid estimates expected within 45 days.One thing is certain: under ESA 95 the national accounts of the Member States are now establishedaccording to harmonised concepts and it is the task of the Statistical Office of the European Communities(Eurostat) to ensure that these concepts are correctly applied.Turning to the honourable Members’ specific questions, the following information can be provided: The Commission (Eurostat) is familiar to some extent with the new sources of statistics for drawing upnational accounts in Italy, but the detailed description has still to be completed by ISTAT before it isofficially communicated to Eurostat. This is because, under the new ESA, Member States are requiredto provide detailed descriptions of the sources and methods used to calculate gross domestic product(GDP), as was the case under the previous system in the early 1990s. The Member States are currently working on this and their reports are expected shortly. In its assessment of the Member States’ economies, the Commission naturally relies on the most recentavailable figures that they transmit to Eurostat. The correction of national accounts for the period1997-1999 carried out on 1 March 2001 led to a re-evaluation of the dynamics and make-up of thegrowth over that period. However, the correction of growth in GDP in real terms, which was the mainitem of data in the whole evaluation exercise, turned out to be not exceptionally high compared bothto the previous corrections and to those carried out for the other Member States (see the data in thefirst paragraph). Moreover, the final estimate for GDP growth in real terms for 2000 tallies with theestimate the Commission made in autumn 2000. Lastly, this correction does not affect the Commis-sion’s evaluation of the current economic situation.18.9.2001 EN C261E/215Official Journal of the European Communities   Eurostat  which is responsible for the collecting, checking and validating the Member States’ data inthe various statistical fields  will continue to perform this task, especially in connection with theinventories of sources and methods which it will be receiving shortly. These inventories make itpossible to conduct a more sophisticated evaluation of the conformity of Italian practices withCommunity standards.(2001/C261E/245) WRITTEN QUESTION P-0899/01by Pat Gallagher (UEN) to the Commission (19 March 2001)Subject: Long-line fishingA recent report by BirdWatch Ireland stated that between 50000 and 100000 northern fulmars werekilled in the North-east Atlantic every year as a result of long-line fishing. Can the Commission statewhether it has statistical evidence which would substantiate this claim and whether it believes that thereare any measures and technical solutions for vessels which would prevent these deaths? Does it envisagebringing forward any proposals in this area? Answer given by Mr Fischler on behalf of the Commission (26 April 2001) The Commission as such has no self-generated statistical evidence on this topic. The Commission is awareof reports by Birdlife International of surveys carried out on Norwegian longliners off north-west Norway and extrapolated to include probable effects of Faroese and Icelandic longliners giving rise to estimates of the order cited. These reports appear to have been reiterated by Bird Watch Ireland.Preliminary information received by the Commission from replies to a questionnaire issued last August2000 indicate that catches of sea birds, although they occur, do not constitute a major threat inCommunity waters. The main problems seem to be caused by non-Community vessels fishing either ininternational waters or in their own waters. The Community has no direct legal power to control theactivities of non-Community vessels in these areas.The Commission has participated in meetings leading to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO)International Plan of Action for reducing incidental catches of seabirds in longline fisheries and has drafteda Community action plan on the basis of information supplied by Member States in response to thequestionnaire previously mentioned. This draft was submitted to the appropriate body of FAO in February 2001.In Antarctic waters, to protect albatrosses and other birds, the Community has already adopted a numberof mitigation measures( 1 )( 2 ), and some or all of these might be considered for other areas as required.The measures are: Using bird-scaring lines with plastic streamers attached; Weighting lines so that they sink faster and hence cause less risk; Prohibiting discharge of offal at sea which attracts the birds; Setting lines at night when the birds are less likely to be foraging; Using only thawed bait which sinks faster.Finally, it might be pointed out that, although catches of seabirds are regrettable and probably avoidable,the cited magnitude of catches of northern fulmars are not such that the sustainability of the fulmarpopulations, currently estimated at 10-12 million individuals, is threatened. ( 1 ) Council Regulation (EC) No 66/1998 of 18 December 1998, OJ L 6, 10.1.1998.( 2 ) Council Regulation (EC) No 2479/1998 of 12 November 1998, OJ L 309, 19.11.1998. C261E/216 EN 18.9.2001Official Journal of the European Communities
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