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IP/02/ 387

Brussels, 12 March 2002

Olive pomace oil: Opening of the investigation procedure for aid granted by Spain

The European Commission has decided to initiate the formal State aid investigation procedure with regard to a Spanish aid scheme for the extraction, refining and bottling of olive pomace oil. The aid granted is in the form of loans of a maximum overall amount of €30.05 million (5 000 million pesetas), with a rate of interest subsidised by the Ministry of Agriculture, which will also be able to subsidise the guarantees on these loans.

At this stage, the Commission considers, on the basis of the information available, that this aid constitutes State aid which is intended to improve the financial situation of enterprises but in no way contributes to the development of the sector. Consequently, it could constitute operating aid which is incompatible with the common market. In addition, this aid is likely to interfere with the mechanisms which govern the common organisations of markets and therefore to infringe Community legislation.

The opening of the formal investigation procedure will enable the Member States concerned as well as third parties to make their comments. The Commission will then take a decision on the compatibility of this aid with the proper functioning of the common market.

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