Brussels, 18 December 2013
The Commission adopts a new regulation on small amounts of aid (de minimis aid) in the primary agricultural production sector
The Commission today adopted a regulation aimed at raising the ceiling and clarifying the definition of small amounts of aid (de minimis aid) that can be considered not to constitute state aid.
Dacian Cioloş, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development announced: 'This new regulation will give Member States more room for manoeuvre to grant aid without distorting competition, particularly in the event of emergencies, and allow the Commission to simplify dealing with national aid in the agricultural sector.'
At present, under Regulation (EC) No 1535/2007, aid in the agriculture sector that does not exceed €7 500 per beneficiary over a period of three years or 0.75% of the value of agricultural output established for each Member State is deemed not to distort or threaten to distort competition.
The new regulation, which will apply from 1 January 2014, will bring the amount per beneficiary to EUR 15 000 over a period of three years, and the ceiling per Member State to 1% of the value of agricultural production. Furthermore, it more clearly defines the types of aid that can be covered by its scope.
Competition is one of the main generators of growth and maintaining a system of free competition without distortion is one of the founding principles of the European Union. EU policy as regards state aid aims to guarantee free competition, the efficient distribution of resources and the unity of the European market while still respecting its international commitments. State aid rules in the agricultural sector are based on three different principles:
They follow the general principles of competition policy.
They have to be coherent with the EU's common agricultural and rural development policies.
They have to be compatible with the EU's international obligations, in particular the WTO Agreement on Agriculture.
These principles have resulted in the following legal instruments which apply only to the agricultural sector:
EU Guidelines for state aid in the agriculture and forestry sector ('GL');
the Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation ('ABER');
specific forms of state aid for the agricultural sector contained in the Regulation on notification forms (PART III.12.A to PART III.12.T of Annex I to Regulation (EC) No 794/2004];
the Regulation on de minimis agricultural aid.
These instruments expire on 31 December 2013 and are under review in the context of the Commission's state aid modernisation (SAM) initiative and in the light of the new rules that will apply to agriculture and rural development under the 2014-2020 Multiannual Financial Framework.
In 2013, the European Commission organised a public consultation to review the rules on state aid and enable all the interested parties to express their opinion on the revisions required and to comment on the draft new regulation on block exemptions in the agricultural sector.
However, the new ABER and GL will not yet be in place at the beginning of 2014. In November 2013, the Commission extended the current agricultural exemption regulation and the guidelines until 30 June 2014 by means of a communication.