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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 31 July 2012

State aid: Commission invites comments on rules for state aid for environmental protection

In the context of its state aid modernisation initiative (SAM) (see IP/12/458), the European Commission is reviewing the EU Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection (see MEMO/08/31). The review starts with a public consultation, seeking stakeholders' views on the functioning of the guidelines since their adoption in 2008. In light of the submissions received and its own experience in applying the guidelines, the Commission will propose revised draft guidelines in 2013, with a view to contributing to the objectives of modernising state aid rules. Submissions to the consultation can be made until 23 October 2012.

After almost four years of applying the EU guidelines on state aid for environmental protection, it is time to take stock of stakeholders' experiences and review its functioning. Moreover, the Commission will examine how the guidelines can support the project to modernise state aid rules, designed to foster growth and to speed up, simplify and focus state aid control. In particular, the guidelines will be reviewed with a view to best channelling public resources towards well-established objectives of common interest while ensuring that public financing does not lead to undue distortions of competition. Thus the Guidelines will play a role in enhancing environmental protection, growth, employment and competitiveness in Europe.

The questionnaire contains questions on general policy to support environmental protection and more specific ones on the use and effectiveness of aid in Member States. It also contains more detailed questions on the experience with the application of the common and specific provisions of the guidelines.

The questionnaire also contains questions on the specific provisions on environmental aid in the General Block Exemption Regulation (see IP/08/1110), which are also currently under revision (see IP/12/627) in order to ensure coherence between the different instruments.

The Guidelines and the questionnaire are available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/consultations/2012_state_aid_environment/index_en.html

Background

Member States' plans to support with state funds selected companies carrying out economic activities need, in principle, to be notified to the Commission and cannot be implemented before they have been approved. The primary objective of state aid control in the field of environmental protection is to ensure that public funding results in a higher level of environmental protection than would occur without the aid and that the positive effects of the aid outweigh its negative effects in terms of distortions of competition, taking account of the polluter pays principle established by Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

The purpose of the present review is to ensure that these objectives continue to be achieved, while taking account of market, regulatory and technological developments that have taken place since the last review.

On 8 May 2012 the Commission adopted a Communication on State Aid Modernisation (SAM, see IP/12/458), setting out the objectives of an ambitious reform package. In the broader context of the EU's agenda to foster growth, state aid policy should focus on facilitating well-designed aid targeted at market failures and objectives of common European interest. The Commission also aims at focusing its enforcement activities on cases with the biggest impact on the EU's Single Market, streamlining rules and accelerating decisions. The Communication identifies a number of actions with a view to implementing these objectives. The main elements of the reform shall be in place by the end of 2013.

Contacts :

Antoine Colombani (+32 2 297 45 13)

Maria Madrid Pina (+32 2 295 45 30)


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