Brussels, 24th January 2007
The European Commission has approved under EC Treaty state aid rules the regional aid maps covering the period 2007-2013 for Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania. 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 eighteen 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 maps support our cohesion policy and contribute to the State Aid Action Plan’s objective of less and better targeted aid. Bulgaria, Cyprus and Romania 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 as from January 2007, as the validity of all previous maps expired on 31.12.2006. The six remaining EU Member States 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 regions 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 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.
In line with the above principles, the whole of Bulgaria is eligible for regional aid under Article 87(3)(a) at a maximum aid intensity of 50% for the whole period 2007-2013.
Areas housing 50% of the population of Cyprus remain eligible for regional aid under Article 87(3)(c) at a maximum aid intensity of 15% for the whole period 2007-2013.
Areas housing a further 15.88% of the population will be eligible for a transitional period of two years at a maximum aid intensity of 10%.
The whole of Romania is eligible for regional aid under Article 87(3)(a) for
the whole period 2007-2013. The maximum aid intensity is 50% for the whole
territory, except for the region of Bucharest where the maximum aid intensity
will be 40%.
For further details on the approved maps, see MEMO/07/27.