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Brussels, 4 October 2010

State aid: Commission consults stakeholders on state aid rules for shipbuilding sector

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the application of the EU Framework on state aid rules for shipbuilding, with a view to determining whether to maintain it unchanged, revise it or repeal it. The current Framework came into effect at the beginning of 2004 (see IP/03/1607), was prolonged in 2006 and 2008 and will expire at the end of 2011. The Framework contains provisions that are unique for the shipbuilding industry, including provisions about the use of aid for innovation, provisions for facilitating the closure of non-viable capacity and specific rules on aid for shipyards located in less developed regions

"Shipbuilding is one of the few sectors that are still subject to a specific State aid regime, derogating from the horizontal rules applicable to other sectors," said Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia, adding: "the Commission will carry out an open-minded assessment to measure the impact, the Shipbuilding Framework has had so far. This will allow the Commission to determine whether it is justified to maintain specific rules in order to safeguard competition and continue to foster innovation in the sector".

The Commission today has launched a public consultation in order to obtain feedback from public authorities and stakeholders on the results of the application of its Framework on state aid to shipbuilding. Submissions will help the Commission determine whether to continue to apply the Framework, modify it or let it expire in 2011.

The shipbuilding framework provides the rules for the Commission to assess whether State support to shipbuilding is compatible with the European internal market.

The general principle of the current Framework is that state support for shipbuilding may be granted under the common EU state aid rules, except where the specific provisions of the Shipbuilding Framework apply. These specific provisions were designed to reflect certain features of the shipbuilding market, in particular that of a global market suffering from cyclical overcapacity. The Framework contains also specific provisions on innovation aid, regional aid, closure aid, export credits, development aid and employment aid.

Given that shipbuilding is also eligible for aid under the common state aid rules, the present consultation should in particular help determine, whether the sector is still in need of specific provisions or whether its state aid regime could be aligned to the rules applicable to other sectors.

The consultation is in principle limited to the current scope of the Shipbuilding Framework. Nevertheless, the Commission is prepared to look at any issues that may be relevant for State aid to shipbuilding.

The public consultation is available at:

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