Brussels, 19 December 2012
Commission authorises €2.66 billion state aid to Italian agricultural sector after May earthquakes
The European Commission authorised today an Italian state aid scheme of €2.66 billion to support the recovery of the Italian agricultural sector from the damage caused by the earthquakes of 20 and 29 May 2012, which hit the Emilia-Romagna, Lombardy and Veneto regions. The scheme provides aid for over 1,000 agricultural enterprises active in the production, processing and marketing of agricultural products. The Commission concluded that it is compatible with the EU legislation on state aid for the agriculture and forestry sector.
The authorized measure provides compensation for material damage to property and damages resulting from economic disadvantage caused by the earthquakes and their aftershocks. Its objective is to bring the situation of the affected enterprises back to their status before the natural disaster and to enable them to resume their activities, while not giving them an additional advantage.
The aid is awarded through direct grants, interest rate subsidies, guarantees and subsidized financial leasing. The level of damage is determined in each individual case. The amount of the compensation received cannot exceed the total damage suffered from the natural disaster. The Italian authorities confirmed that the rules on accumulation of aid will be taken into account and that the overall amount of compensation received by an individual beneficiary from any public funds combined with insurance payments will not exceed 100 % of the assessed damage under any circumstances.
On the basis of the assurances given by the Italian authorities, the Commission concluded that the measure only compensates for damages caused by the natural disaster and that it introduces an appropriate mechanism to ensure that there will be no overcompensation.
The full text of the Commission decision will be published in the State Aid Register on DG Competition’s website under the reference number SA.35482.
The earthquakes (respectively of a 5.9 and 5.8 magnitude on the Richter scale) and strong aftershocks qualify as natural disaster. They had a devastating impact, especially in productive areas, with many activities having been suspended for many months as establishments were inaccessible or unavailable.
An earthquake can normally be considered an "exceptional occurrence," which allows Member States to grant support to compensate for the material damage (up to 100%). On the basis of the information available, the notified scheme is therefore compatible with Article 107 (2) (b) of the Treaty, which establishes that aid to make good the damage caused by natural disasters or exceptional occurrences is compatible with the internal market.
For more information
State Aid Register: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/register/
State Aids Weekly e-newsletter: http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/newsletter/index.html