In Brief

Commission against extra cotton subsidies BRUSSELS – EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler said the Commission is opposed to extra subsidies to Greek cotton farmers for reasons of formality and substance. Greece has not formally notified, as required, the Commission of its intention to pay extra subsidies, and the Commission finds the citing of «extraordinary conditions» as grounds for such payments unconvincing, Fischler said. Cotton farmers have received reduced subsidies for exceeding the quota allowed for Greece. The government has indicated a willingness to grant an extra subsidy of 11.7 cents per kilo, but this ultimately requires approval by the EU Council of Ministers, which has occasionally bypassed objections by the Commission. The Council will discuss the issue in November. SEV considers Balkan Reconstruction Plan Deputy Foreign Minister Andreas Loverdos visited the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) for a discussion of the Greek Plan for Balkan Economic Reconstruction, which provides for investment subsidies under bilateral agreements with six neighboring countries. Parliament is due to ratify such agreements in November. Loverdos said 12 investment proposals had been received so far, but that any support for old investments would have to be provided for in the impending revision of the law on development incentives. Loverdos said his ministry aimed to have the funds channeled through Greek banks operating in the region which would monitor projects and disburse funds according to progress. Security and cleaning About one in four firms providing private security and cleaning services are in violation of labor legislation, the Labor Ministry said. Violations were found in 87 of 312 inspections of security firms and in 95 of 404 checks in cleaning firms. The ministry says that large enterprises hiring smaller service companies are also responsible for any such violations. Separately, firms have to submit personnel and work hour lists by November 15. TVX Hellas The Council of State, the country’s administrative court, will accept with reservations a suit by residents of the village of Stratoniki in Halkidiki, northern Greece, for the annulment of ministerial decisions allowing TVX Hellas to conduct base metals mining operations under their village, sources said. Justices said such operations were not legal without a prior environmental effects study. The court will officially release its decision on November 8. Company lawyers said if the suit was endorsed, it would have to suspend operations altogether. Bogus VAT claims Deputy Finance Minister Apostolos Fotiadis said the number of companies under investigation for filing bogus export documents in order to claim back value added tax has now risen to more than 100, and the total amount of rebates received in the last two years is estimated at 600 million euros. Tourism The number of entry visas issued by Greek consulates in members of the Commonwealth of Independent States – including Russia – was up 12.3 percent to 129,600 in the first three quarters, compared to the same period of 2001.