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IP/06/1871

Brussels, 21st December 2006

State aid: Commission approves regional aid maps 2007-2013 for Austria, Finland, Spain, Sweden and the UK

The European Commission has approved under EC Treaty state aid rules the regional aid maps covering the period 2007-2013 for Austria, Finland, Spain, Sweden and the UK. These decisions form part of a wider exercise to review regional aid systems in all Member States in accordance with the new Regional Aid Guidelines (see IP/05/1653 and MEMO/05/491) adopted in December 2005. The new Guidelines aim at re-focussing regional aid on the most deprived regions of the enlarged EU, while allowing to improve competitiveness and to provide for a smooth transition. The maps of thirteen other Member States have already been approved by the Commission (see IP/06/1176, IP/06/1393, IP/06/1451 and IP/06/1528).

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “The approved maps support our cohesion policy and contribute to the State Aid Action Plan’s objective of less and better targeted aid. Austria, Finland, Spain, Sweden and the UK will now be able to implement their regional development strategies for 2007-2013.”

A regional aid map defines the regions of a Member State eligible for national regional investment aid for large enterprises under EC Treaty state aid rules and establishes the maximum permitted levels of such aid in the eligible regions. The adoption of a regional aid map is a pre-condition to ensure the continuity of the regional policy and Structural Fund programmes after 2006, as all current maps will expire on 31.12.2006. If no new map is approved by the Commission before 1.1.2007, the Member State in question will not be able to grant any regional aid within its territory.

Article 87(3)(a) EC Treaty allows aid to promote the economic development of areas with serious underemployment or an abnormally low standard of living. The Regional Guidelines define this type of regions as having a GDP below 75% of the Community average. However, for the so called statistical effect regions (with a GDP higher than 75% of the EU-25 average but lower than 75% of the EU-15 average), a transitional phase until the end of 2010 is foreseen.

Article 87(3)(c) EC Treaty allows aid to facilitate the development of certain economic activities or areas, where such aid does not adversely affect trading conditions. The Regional Guidelines define this type of regions as areas of a Member State which are disadvantaged in relation to the national average. As these regions are less disadvantaged than areas covered by Article 87(3)(a), the geographical scope and the aid intensity are strictly limited.

Austria

In line with the above principles, 3.4% of Austria’s population remain eligible for regional aid as statistical effect region under Art. 87(3)(a) at a maximum intensity of 30% until 31.12.2010. In 2010 the Commission will assess whether the GDP of the region is below 75% of the Community average (EU-25). If this is the case, the aid ceiling remains 30%; if not, the region becomes eligible under Art. 87(3)(c) at a ceiling of 20%.

19.1% of Austria’s population remain eligible for aid under Article 87(3)(c) at a maximum intensity of 20%, 16% or 15%.

Finland

33% of Finland’s population remain eligible for regional aid under Article 87(3)(c) at a maximum intensity of 15% or 10%.

Spain

36.2% of Spain’s population remain eligible for regional aid under Article 87(3)(a) at a maximum intensity of 40% or 30%.

5.8% of Spain’s population remain eligible for aid as statistical effect regions under Article 87(3)(a) at a maximum intensity of 30% until 31.12.2010. In 2010 the Commission will assess whether the GDP of these regions is below 75% of the Community average (EU-25). If this is the case, the aid ceiling remains 30%, if not, they become eligible under Article 87(3)(c) at an aid ceiling of 20%.

17.7% of Spain’s population remain eligible for aid under Article 87(3)(c) at a maximum intensity of 30%, 27%, 25%, 20%, 15% or 10%. A further 12.4% of the population will be eligible for a transitional period of two years at a maximum intensity of 10%.

Sweden

15.3% of Sweden’s population remain eligible for regional aid under Article 87(3)(c) at a maximum intensity of 15% or 10%.

United Kingdom

4.0% of the UK’s population remain eligible for regional aid under Article 87(3)(a) at a maximum intensity of 30%.

0.6% of the population of the UK remain eligible as statistical effect regions for aid under Article 87(3)(a) at a maximum intensity of 30% until 31.12.2010. In 2010 the Commission will assess whether the GDP of these regions is below 75% of the Community average (EU-25). If this is the case, the aid ceiling remains 30%, if not, they become eligible under Article 87(3)(c) at an aid ceiling of 20%.

19.3% of the UK’s population remain eligible for aid under Article 87(3)(c) at a maximum intensity of 30%, 25%, 15% or 10%.
Information on the approved maps will soon be published in the EU’s Official Journal. A non-official version of the decisions will be available for information purposes in the working language on the Commission’s website.

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/overview/ram.html

For further details on the approved maps, see MEMO/06/508 (Austria), MEMO/06/509 (Finland), MEMO/06/511 (Spain), MEMO/06/510 (Sweden) and MEMO/06/512 (UK).


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