Brussels, 7th February 2007
The European Commission has approved under EC Treaty state aid rules the regional aid map covering the period 2007-2013 for Portugal. This decision forms part of a wider exercise to review the regional aid regimes in place 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 disadvantaged regions of the enlarged EU, while allowing to improve competitiveness and providing for a smooth transition. The maps of twenty-one other Member States have already been approved by the Commission (see IP/06/1176, IP/06/1393, IP/06/1451, IP/06/1528 and IP/06/1871).
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “The approved map supports our cohesion policy and contributes to the State Aid Action Plan’s objective of less and better targeted aid. Portugal will now be able to implement its regional development strategy 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 as from January 2007. Indeed the validity of all previous maps expired on 31.12.2006. The five remaining EU Member States (France, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and The Netherlands) are not able to grant any regional aid within their territory until a new map is approved by the Commission.
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 region as having a GDP below 75% of the Community average.
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 region 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.
For the period 2007-2013, and in line with the above principles, 70.1% of Portugal’s population remain eligible for regional aid under Article 87(3)(a) at a maximum aid intensity of 50%, 40% or 30%, depending on the region.
The region of Algarve with 3.8% of the Portuguese population remains eligible for aid as a statistical effect region under Article 87(3)(a) at a maximum aid intensity of 30% until 31.12.2010. (Statistical effect regions have, following the enlargement of the European Union in May 2004 with 10 new Member States, a GDP below 75% of the EU-15 average, but above 75% of the EU-25 average). In 2010, the Commission will assess whether the GDP of this region is below 75% of the Community average (EU-25). If this is the case, the aid ceiling remains 30%, if not, it becomes eligible under Article 87(3)(c) at an aid ceiling of 20%.
2.8% of Portugal’s population remain eligible for aid under Article 87(3)(c) at a maximum aid intensity of 15%. A further 19.2% of the population is eligible for a transitional period of two years at a maximum aid intensity of 10%.
Information on the approved map will soon be published in the EU’s Official Journal. A non-official version of the decision will be available for information purposes in the working language on the Commission’s website.
For further details on the approved map, see MEMO/07/45.