Sélecteur de langues
Brussels, 7 December 2009
State aid: Scoreboard shows strong increase of aid in response to the financial crisis but Single Market intact
The European Commission's latest State Aid Scoreboard shows the financial crisis multiplied the overall aid volume from € 66.5 billion or 0.52% of the EU-27 GDP in 2007 to € 279.6 billion or 2.2% of GDP in 2008. Crisis measures excluded, total aid stood in 2008 at € 67.4 billion or 0.54% of GDP. Timely and coordinated action by Member States and the Commission contributed to safeguarding financial stability. The European Commission's state aid policy was one of the key factors ensuring that this – overall successful – rescue process has been achieved in a coordinated way. The Commission allowed swift implementation of unprecedented support measures but at the same time ensured that the Single Market was not disrupted by disproportionate distortions of competition. Aid not related to the crisis remained broadly stable and oriented towards objectives of common interest.
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes commented: "In the past 14 months, unprecedented rescue measures allowed Europe to stabilise financial markets and help to pave the road to recovery. By vetting this aid quickly, and strictly controlling its use, we have ensured state aid is part of the solution to the crisis. We have now entered the restructuring phase for the banking system with first important decisions already taken – for example on KBC, ING, Lloyds, Fortis and Commerzbank. In 2009, we have also allowed additional aid to the real economy to offset the credit crunch. I very much welcome that Member States, despite the difficult times, maintained state aid discipline and continued their efforts to re-direct aid for horizontal objectives of common interest such as research. Well- targeted aid should thus continue to help us move along the road to economic recovery."
Aid to overcome the financial crisis
Coordinated action by Member States and the Commission as well as the introduction of crisis-specific rules has allowed the rapid implementation of aid schemes and ad hoc measures that do not undermine the EU's level playing field.
Total crisis support made available by Member States and approved by the Commission in 2008 was € 3361 billion. The nominal amount of crisis support actually implemented by Member States in 2008 was much lower and stood at € 958 billion. The state aid element of this amount is estimated at € 212.2 billion or 1.7% of EU-27 GDP. The aid element is significantly lower than the nominal amount, in particular because the aid element of state guarantees normally constitutes only a small fraction of the guaranteed amounts. Furthermore, real budgetary expenditure materialises only when a state guarantee is actually drawn upon.
Member States continue effort to re-direct aid to horizontal objectives
Financial crisis measures aside, Member States stood on track with their efforts to re-direct aid towards horizontal objectives of common interest. Some 88% of aid to industry and services is now directed towards horizontal objectives of common interest, while non-crisis rescue and restructuring aid fell. Most notably, the Commission observes a greater focus on regional aid and aid for research, development and innovation which in turn is expected to foster future job growth opportunities.
Simplification and flexibility
Reforms from the State Aid Action Plan 2005–2008 (see ) continue to bear fruit. New e xemptions from ex ante Commission scrutiny, either by the de minimis Regulation (see ) or by the recently adopted General Block Exemption Regulation (see ), are reducing administrative burdens without affecting the level playing field. In terms of aid volume, around 19% of aid is granted through block exemptions. In addition, another 76% of state aid is assessed by the Commission under aid schemes. Such schemes or programmes, once approved by the Commission, allow Member States to grant aid to a high number of beneficiaries without further Commission scrutiny. Measures subjected to individual assessment at the level of the beneficiary account for only 5% of total aid. This gives Member States a high degree of flexibility, while compatibility criteria safeguard the Single Market.
The Scoreboard notes further progress in the recovery of illegal and incompatible aid. At the end of June 2009, € 9.4 billion has been effectively recovered. Only 9% of unlawful aid is still outstanding which means that 91% of the total amount of illegal and incompatible aid had effectively been repaid by its beneficiaries, compared with only 25% at the end of 2004.
The Scoreboard, together with its Annex "Fact and figures on State aid in the EU Member States" and a set of detailed statistical tables and indicators for all Member States, is available on the Europa website:
Total aid as % of GDP (EU-27; data as of 1992
Less and better targeted aid: Key figures (crisis measures excluded)
Note: Data cover all State aid measures as defined under Article 87(1) of the EC Treaty that Member States awarded and the Commission examined. The Community rules on agricultural and fisheries policies are not covered by the EEA Agreement. Hence, aid to these sectors is not included for the EFTA countries. (1) Change in percentage points between annual average of 2003-2005 and 2006-2008. Source: DGs Competition, Energy and Transport, Agriculture, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries and EFTA Surveillance Authority. (2) Not available.
State aid related to crisis measures (2008; figures in billion €)