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De minimis aid

The de minimis rule is updated to exempt aid of less than EUR 200 000 from the requirement to notify the European Commission in advance.

ACT

Commission Regulation (EC) No 1998/2006 of 15 December 2006 on the application of Articles 87 and 88 of the Treaty to de minimis aid.

SUMMARY

This new regulation updates the de minimis rule, extending its scope and doubling the de minimis ceiling.

De minimis rule

Article 108(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) (ex-Article 88(3) of the Treaty establishing the European Community (TEC)) requires state aid to be notified to the European Commission so that it can assess whether the aid is compatible with the common market in the light of Article 107(1) TFEU (ex-Article 87(1) TEC). However, under Regulation (EC) No 994/98 certain categories of aid can be exempted from the notification requirement.

The de minimis rule was introduced in order to exempt small aid amounts. It sets a ceiling below which aid is deemed not to fall within the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU and is therefore exempt from the notification requirement laid down in Article 108(3) TFEU.

De minimis ceiling

Aid of no more than EUR 200 000 granted over a period of three years is not regarded as state aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU.

A specific ceiling of EUR 100 000 applies to road transport.

The three-year period corresponds to three financial years.

The ceiling, set initially at EUR 100 000 in Regulation (EC) No 69/2001, has thus been doubled.

Transparent aid

In order to prevent any abuse, the regulation applies only to transparent de minimis aid.

Aid is regarded as transparent when the amount can be calculated precisely in advance without needing to carry out a risk assessment.

The following count as transparent aid:

  • aid comprised in loans when the amount has been calculated on the basis of market interest rates prevailing at the time of the grant;
  • aid comprised in capital injections if the total amount of the public injection does not exceed the de minimis ceiling;
  • aid comprised in risk-capital measures if the risk-capital scheme concerned provides capital only up to the de minimis ceiling to each target undertaking;
  • aid provided under a loan-guarantee scheme when the guaranteed part of the underlying loan does not exceed EUR 1 500 000 (or EUR 750 000 in road transport). However, European Union (EU) countries can provide loan guarantees on amounts of more than EUR 1 500 000 if they can show, using a methodology accepted by the Commission, that the aid element does not exceed EUR 200 000.

Scope

The regulation does not apply to aid for fisheries and aquaculture, the primary production of agricultural products, export-related activities, the coal sector, the acquisition of road freight transport vehicles or firms in difficulty, or to aid tied to the use of domestic over imported goods.

It applies to aid granted to firms in all other sectors, including transport and, on certain conditions, for the processing and marketing of agricultural products.

Cooperation by the EU member countries

EU countries are required to check that the total amount of de minimis aid granted to a firm over a period of three financial years does not exceed EUR 200 000.

When they grant de minimis aid, EU countries must inform the undertaking concerned of the amount of aid and of its de minimis character, making express reference to Regulation (EC) No 1998/2006.

Background

The de minimis rule, first introduced in a Notice published in 1996, was established by Regulation (EC) No 69/2001. The experience gained in applying that regulation as well as trends in inflation and the growth of gross domestic product (GDP) justify updating its rules.

The new de minimis Regulation forms part of the Commission's State Aid Action Plan and complements the guidelines on risk capital investments and the framework for state aid for research and development and innovation.

REFERENCES

ActEntry into force - Date of expiryDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Regulation (EC) No 1998/2006

1.1.2007 - 31.12.2013

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OJ L 379 of 28.12.2006

Last updated: 18.10.2011
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