Brussels, 17 July 2013
State Aid: Commission consults on reform of Regulation for small aid amounts (de minimis Regulation)
After amendments resulting from a public consultation in March 2013 (see MEX/13/0320), the European Commission is inviting comments on a second draft for a revised Regulation on small aid amounts (so-called "de minimis" aid). According to this Regulation, aid measures below a certain ceiling do not constitute state aid in the meaning of EU rules because they have no impact on competition and trade in the internal market. Measures that fulfil the criteria of the Regulation therefore do not need to be notified to the Commission for approval before they are implemented. The revised draft simplifies and clarifies the criteria and proposes the introduction of a mandatory register of de minimis measures after a transition period. Comments can be submitted until 9 September 2013. In light of the submissions, the Commission will then adopt a new regulation at the end of 2013. The review is part of the Commission's State Aid Modernisation initiative (SAM, see IP/12/458)
The Regulation has greatly simplified the treatment of small aid measures and has given legal certainty to granting authorities and aid beneficiaries. However, it has to strike the right balance between simplification, on the one hand, and avoiding competition distortions in the internal market and promoting efficient public spending, on the other hand. At the same time, the de minimis Regulation has to remain within its legal boundaries — it can only cover measures that do not have any effect on trade and competition. Other well-designed and targeted measures with a limited potential of distorting competition in the internal market can be – and increasingly are –exempted through the General Block Exemption Regulation (see IP/08/1110 and MEMO/08/482).
Main elements of the revision
The proposal maintains the current ceiling of € 200 000 over three years. On the basis of the Commission’s experience and all data gathered so far, including through public consultations, there is no indication that a higher ceiling would be justified. Above that level, aid may have an impact on competition in the internal market. This is all the more true in times of crisis when Member States have uneven spending capacity. The Commission will further analyse this question in the on-going review process, which includes an impact assessment.
Furthermore, the Commission proposes to introduce a mandatory de minimis register. This would be an indispensable tool for ensuring that the ceiling is respected and for gathering data on the use of de minimis aid. A suitable transitional period is foreseen for the set up.
The draft also substantially clarifies and simplifies the rules, in line with recurring requests from stakeholders. For example, it introduces a safe-harbour for loans up to € 1 million and simplifies the definition of “undertaking” in order to increase legal certainty and reduce the administrative burden.
The text of the revised draft is available at:
In 2006, the Commission adopted the current de minimis Regulation for the period 2007-2013 (see IP/06/1765 and MEMO/12/936). It doubled the ceiling for exempted aid amounts, from €100 000 per undertaking per three year period to €200 000. This increase took account not only of the evolution of inflation and gross domestic product in the EU up to 2006, but also of the likely development of these factors from 2007 to 2013. Because of the financial crisis the real inflation has been considerably lower than anticipated in 2006. A further increase of the ceiling is therefore not warranted on these grounds.
As the regulation expires at the end of 2013, the Commission launched the review process in 2012 with a questionnaire and consulted in March 2013 on a first draft (see MEX/13/0320 and consultation page). The over 100 contributions received provided a valuable input for the draft the Commission has adopted today.
The review of the de minimis Regulation is directly linked to the Commission's objective of setting enforcement priorities and is therefore an important part of the SAM initiative (see IP/12/458). In this context, state aid policy should concentrate on facilitating well-designed aid targeted at market failures and objectives of common European interest (‘good aid’). The Commission also aims to focus its enforcement on cases with the biggest impact on the internal market, and to streamline rules and speed up decision making. SAM contributes to the broader EU agenda for fostering growth while supporting Member States’ efforts towards budgetary consolidation.
As part of SAM, the Commission is currently reviewing a number of instruments, including in particular the General Block Exemption Regulation and most of its guidelines.