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Brussels, 7th March 2007

State aid: Commission approves regional aid map 2007-2013 for France

The European Commission has approved under EC Treaty state aid rules the regional aid map covering the period 2007-2013 for France. 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 to provide for a smooth transition. The maps of twenty-four other Member States have already been approved by the Commission (see IP/06/1176, IP/06/1393, IP/06/1451, IP/06/1528, IP/06/1871, IP/07/79, IP/07/153 and IP/07/211).

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. France 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, as the validity of all previous maps expired on 31st December 2006. Two remaining EU Member States (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 an area of a Member State which is 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.

The French Outermost Regions of Guyane, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Réunion remain eligible for aid under Article 87(3)(a) for the whole period until 31st December 2013. The aid intensities are 60% for Guyane and 50% for the other three regions.

For the period 2007-2013, 15.5% of France’s population remain eligible for aid under Article 87(3)(c) at an aid ceiling of 15% or 10%.

For the period 2007-2008 a further 6.9% of the French population is eligible as a transitional measure at an aid ceiling 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/07/94.

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