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Brussels, 12 May 2009

State aid: Commission approves extension of French scheme for refinancing credit institutions

In accordance with the state aid rules of the EC Treaty, the European Commission has authorised the extension of the refinancing scheme for credit institutions in France. The Commission found the extension of the measures, initially approved on 31 October 2008 (see IP/08/1609), to be in line with its Communication on state aid to overcome the financial crisis (see IP/08/1495). In particular, the extended measures are limited in time and scope. The Commission has therefore concluded that they represent an appropriate means of remedying a serious disturbance in the French economy and as such are compatible with Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty.

Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said: "The extension of the refinancing scheme for financial institutions provides France with effective means of restoring confidence in its financial system and refinancing the economy, while at the same time establishing safeguards to limit distortions of competition".

The application to extend the scheme - which aims to further stabilise the financial markets by ensuring access to credit - was notified to the Commission on 22 April 2009. Apart from the period of application, all other conditions (such as eligible institutions, remuneration and safeguards against possible abuse) remain as laid down in the original decision (see IP/08/1609).

The Commission found that the measures were well targeted, proportionate, and limited in time and scope. It therefore concluded that the scheme was an appropriate means of restoring confidence in France's financial market and stimulating interbank lending.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number N 251/2009 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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