Brussels, 16 October 2013
State aid: Commission authorises phasing-out of Belgian biofuel support scheme
The European Commission has found a 12-months phasing-out of excise duty reductions granted by Belgium to seven biofuel producers to be in line with EU state aid rules. The seven producers, who were selected in 2006 following a call for application, will continue to benefit from the reduction until 30 September 2014 for a limited volume of biofuels, so as to ensure a smooth transition towards a new biofuel support scheme to be put in place in 2014. The new scheme that will be notified to the Commission before the end of 2013 will promote the production of particularly sustainable biofuels.
In 2005, Belgium adopted a biofuel support scheme reducing excise duties for a limited number of bioethanol and FAME producers, to be selected through a call for applications based on environmental and economic parameters. The Commission approved the scheme for a duration of six years, which expired on 30 September 2013. In 2012, Belgium applied for a prolongation until 2019 of the initial scheme.
However, since the organisation of the call for application in 2006, the biofuel market has evolved, with Belgium introducing a supply obligation in 2009 and the Commission adopting Directive 2009/28/EC on the use of renewable energy, which contains specific sustainability criteria for biofuels. In September 2013, Belgium informed the Commission that it would set up a new scheme and organise a new tender in 2014 that would be better tailored to the requirements of the Directive and the changed market context and at the same time proposed to prolong the initial scheme only for a short phasing-out period. The phasing-out period will give Belgium the time needed to set up the new scheme and at the same time allow the sector to adapt to the new situation.
The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.35073 in the State Aid Register on the DG Competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.