Brussels, 22 November 2013
State aid: Commission consults on modernising state aid policy through better evaluation
The European Commission is inviting comments on a guidance paper aimed at helping Member States to better evaluate to what extent public support schemes have achieved their purpose and what was their impact on markets and competition. The evaluation of aid schemes is an important element of the Commission's state aid modernisation agenda towards more efficient and effective public spending: On the one hand, the state aid reform will enable Member States to grant more aid measures without prior clearance by the Commission. On the other hand, those aid measures which are significant will be assessed more thoroughly than in the past. The guidance paper sets out best practices and key principles, while giving Member States the necessary flexibility to adapt to the specific situations of each evaluation exercise. The Commission's Competition service will then publish the guidance paper on its website and use it as a basis for the evaluations to be carried in the coming years.
Commission Vice-President Joaquín Almunia, in charge of competition policy said: "This guidance document will help public authorities to evaluate the impact of public support schemes in favour of the economy, not only to verify whether the planned results have been achieved but also how efficiently this has been done."
Following the publication of an issues paper and a workshop in April 2013, Member States asked the Commission to issue a guidance paper explaining how best to carry out a meaningful evaluation. The current proposal aims to address this request.
This guidance paper contains information on methodologies, best practices and examples on how to carry out ex-post evaluations. It also aims at setting minimum standards on evaluation modalities and techniques in order to foster a common approach among Member States, thereby ensuring high quality evaluations. The guidance document is in particular intended for assessing aid schemes with large budgets since those are likely to have the biggest impact on the market and the highest efficiency gains. Stakeholders are particularly invited to comment on the possible content of the evaluation plan and on the methodologies to identify the causal impact of state aid.
The methodological guidance paper is available here. Comments can be submitted until 24 January 2014.
On 8 May 2012, the Commission set out an ambitious reform programme to modernise EU state aid control (see IP/12/458), with three main, closely linked objectives: fostering growth in a strengthened, dynamic and competitive internal market; focussing enforcement on cases with the biggest impact on the internal market and streamlined rules and faster decisions.
As the existing rules are being revised under the umbrella of the modernisation, the requirement of evaluation is being gradually introduced, for instance in the new state aid broadband guidelines (see IP/12/1424) or the regional aid guidelines (see IP/13/569). Evaluation is part of the wider balance of state aid modernisation, whereby a significantly increased share of national measures will be treated in a simplified and straightforward manner (see IP/13/736) in exchange for greater transparency, and more ex post controls (monitoring and evaluation).
This initiative is also part of the Commission's overall effort to introduce a more systematic and higher quality of evaluation of public spending. For instance, EU spending (such as ERDF, Cohesion Funds or ESF monies) will be subject to detailed impact evaluation requirements in the next programming period 2014-2020 to verify whether and how efficiently the objectives have been achieved.