European Commission - Press release
State aid: Commission clears Czech support scheme for reduction of air pollution in Moravia-Silesia
Brussels, 23 November 2011 - The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules a Czech scheme worth CZK 6 billion (approx. €250 million) for projects that reduce the level of air pollution in highly polluted areas in the Moravia-Silesia Region. The Commission found the scheme to be in line with the state aid rules, because the aid will be awarded through a competitive tender to companies that increase the level of environmental protection, either where there are currently no EU standards or going beyond such standards.
Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy noted: “The Czech measure will contribute to reduce air pollution without unduly distorting competition in the internal market. The scheme is well designed to achieve its objectives and the applicants are incentivised to request the minimum amount necessary for carrying out the proposed projects.”
The aid scheme is part of the Operational Programme "Environment" of the Czech Republic. Under this scheme, the Czech authorities would make grants towards new or existing installations for the refurbishment of non combustion sources aiming to lower the pollution level below the existing limits or, in the absence of these limits, significantly reduce their current pollution level and increase the level of environmental protection. As it focuses on non combustion sources, the scheme is available to undertakings active in sectors such as: manufacture of coke and refined petroleum products, manufacture of basic metals, electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply.
The Commission finds that the Czech plans are in line with the EU environmental guidelines , in that the scheme ensures that aid will be granted only for the additional investment costs needed to achieve a higher level of environmental protection than the one resulting from the application of mandatory standards. Moreover, the aid will be granted through an open and transparent tendering procedure on the basis of clear, non-discriminatory criteria, effectively ensuring that it is limited to the minimum necessary for achieving the environmental gain. Projects will be accepted on the basis of published calls and must meet established technical and environmental criteria. The scheme will be open to companies located in the highly polluted areas of the Moravia-Silesia Region, namely Ostrava-město, Karviná and Frýdek-Místek, irrespective of their size.
The non-confidential version of this decision will be made available under the case number SA.33588 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 .
Amelia Torres (+32 2 295 46 29)
Maria Madrid Pina (+32 2 295 45 30)