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State aid in the form of guarantees. The draft Notice i) clarifies the conditions relating to the presence or absence of aid in the form of guarantees and ii) quantifies the relevant amount of aid on the basis of market references and risk analysis. The new Notice is expected to be adopted by the Commission by the end of May 2008.

Applying the rules

Following the exceptionally high level of State aid notifications in 2006 (922), the number of new cases notified by Member States stood at 777 in 200716. This figure however remains significantly above the level in 2004 and 2005. Moreover, the decrease is in line with the Commission’s commitment to facilitate the granting of aid through block exemptions and to focus policy on the most distortive types of aid. In 2007, Member States were able to introduce more than 1 100 measures without prior notification to the Commission17. This compares with 410 block-exempted measures in 2006.

The Commission took 629 final State aid Decisions18 in 2007. In the vast majority of cases, the Commission approved the measures without a formal investigation, concluding that the examined aid was compatible with the State aid rules (87% of all Decisions in 2007) or did not constitute State aid (5% of all Decisions).

The Commission published two editions of the State Aid Scoreboards19 in 2007. The autumn 2007 update20 shows that over the past six years Member States have been moving towards the European Council objective of less and better targeted aid. In particular, the EU-10 Member States have progressively reoriented their State aid towards horizontal objectives of common interest such as regional development,

R&D, SMEs and protecting the environment.

During 2007, the Commission approved the regional aid maps21

of Bulgaria and

Romania, as well as for Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Portugal. As a result, regional aid maps covering the period 2007–2013 have now been approved for all Member States. The Commission authorised regional aid for a number of large investment projects22.

Of the 777 notifications, 53% mainly concerned the manufacturing and service sectors, 33% agriculture, 8% transport and 6% fisheries. In the area of agriculture alone, the number of block-exempted measures increased from 119 in 2006 to 496 in 2007. Member States also submitted around 200 measures under the recently introduced block exemption for regional aid. Included in this figure are: Decisions on the absence of State aid, Decisions not to raise objections,

positive Decisions, conditional Decisions and negative Decisions. http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/state_aid/studies_reports/studies_reports.html

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online

Scoreboard contains electronic versions of all Scoreboards, as well as a set of key indicators and a wide array of statistical tables. COM(2007) 791 final, 13.12.2007, State Aid Scoreboard, autumn 2007 update. http://ec.europa.eu/comm/competition/state_aid/regional_aid/regional_aid.cfm These included the establishment of two chemical production plants (Cases N 898/2006, Repsol Polimeros; N 899/2006, Artensa.); three separate investment projects in the pulp and paper sector in Portugal (Cases N 900/2006, CELBI; N 838/2006, Soporcel; N 564/2006, About the future); the extension of an electricity generation plant in Hungary (Case N 907/2006, Mátrai Erőmű.); a production plant for solar energy modules in Germany (Case N 863/2006, Avancis); the expansion of a car manufacturing plant in Slovakia (Case N 857/2006, Kia Motors Slovakia) and an automotive investment project in the Czech Republic (Case N 661/2006, Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Czech).

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