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Brussels, 14 October 2009

State aid: Commission approves Dutch Green Funds Scheme for environmentally-friendly investment projects

The European Commission has authorised, under the EC Treaty’s rules on state aid, a revised version of a Dutch tax incentive measure, first approved by the Commission in August 2006 as "Regeling Groenprojecten", to stimulate investments in projects that have a positive effect on nature and the environment in The Netherlands. The Commission found the various parts of the scheme to be in line respectively with its guidelines on state aid to agriculture, to fisheries, to the environment and with EC Treaty rules on state aid for the development of certain economic activities (Article 87.3.c).

EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: “I am satisfied that the revised Green Funds Scheme will contribute to the EU efforts for a greener economy without unduly distorting competition. The fund has proven in the pas an effective catalyst for environmentally friendly and energy-efficient investments in the Netherlands. "

In 1995, the Dutch government launched the Green Funds tax incentive scheme to encourage environmentally-friendly initiatives. Tax exemptions may be granted for investments by individual tax payers in investment funds that mainly (at least 70%) invest in "green projects". To qualify as a green project certain conditions, laid down in the scheme, must be met.

The modified scheme proposes new project categories and amends a number of existing project categories. The proposed amendments seek to adapt the scheme to experience gained over the past ten years, to advancements in environmental technologies and to current policy priorities; they do not affect the underlying methodology nor the co-operation between investors, banks and green projects.

The project categories range from projects for the development and maintenance of nature, forest and landscape to projects for sustainable aquaculture, the generation of renewable energy and the sustainable construction of dwellings and utility buildings.

The Commission found that the measure was in line with the criteria of the Commission's guidelines on state aid for agriculture, for fisheries, for the environment and with EC Treaty rules on state aid for the development of certain economic activities (Article 87(3)(c).

For example, the Commission approved aid for organic farming under agricultural rules, aid for the use of renewable raw materials in manufacturing processes, recovery and recycling of waste under the environmental rules and aid for the establishment of filling stations for alternative fuels directly on the basis of Article 87.3(c) of the EC Treaty. Since the scheme's inception, around 44 000 individuals have invested €6.8 billion in green projects, enabling the funding over the years of 5000 green projects ( Groen Beleggen , annual report 2008).

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number N 249/200 8 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News .

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