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Brussels, 2 April 2003

Commission announces comprehensive reform of regional aid

The Commission has today decided to conduct a thorough review of its rules on regional aid for the period after 1 January 2007. The current rules will remain in force until that date.

In December 1997 the Commission decided to limit the scope of the regional development areas eligible for state aid in the European Union to 42.7% of the aggregate population (fifteen Member States) for the period 2000-06. The allocation of this population ceiling between Member States as well as the demarcation of the individual assisted areas in the Member States and the admissible aid ceilings for those areas are based on criteria laid down in the guidelines on national regional aid(1) that were adopted at the same time. The resulting regional aid maps of the Member States were approved by the Commission for the period 2000-06.

With the impending enlargement, the assisted areas need to be redrawn for the period after 2006. In preparation for the structural changes that enlargement will bring, the Commission has decided to conduct a comprehensive review of the regional aid guidelines and the associated criteria for determining regional assistance. The review is to be completed in time for the Member States to draw up the new regional aid maps and to present them to the Commission for approval before their scheduled entry into force on 1 January 2007. The Commission intends to conduct the review in close cooperation with the Member States.

(1)OJ C 74, 10.3.1998.

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