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European Commission - Press release
State Aid – Belgium: Funding of TSE tests for bovines in 2003-04 partly incompatible
Brussels, 29 June 2011 – The European Commission has today decided that the aid given by Belgium to fund screening tests for transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) for bovines between 1 January 2003 and 30 June 2004 was not compatible with the rules on State aid in agriculture. This aid should be recovered from the beneficiaries. The total to be recovered amounts to EUR 6.6 million, not including interest.
The Commission has examined the information presented by Belgium following the opening of an official enquiry in 2008. It has concluded that the aid was financed with more than EUR 40 per test. Before 1 January 2003, in view of the BSE crisis, State aid could be granted for the total cost of the tests in order to protect public health. However, from 1 January 2003 the applicable rules provide for State aid to be capped at EUR 40 per test. Thus, the amount exceeding the EUR 40 per test paid by Belgium for the BSE tests between 1 January 2003 and 30 June 2004 is not compatible with the rules. After 1 July 2004, the cost of the BSE tests was below EUR 40, which makes the aid compatible.
Following a complaint, the Commission examined the aid granted by Belgium to finance BSE tests during the period from 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2005. As it had doubts concerning the compatibility of the financing of these tests, the Commission opened an investigation into this aid (see IP/08/1777) to obtain more information on the amounts paid by Belgium and on the system established by Belgium to finance the BSE tests.