Brussels, 7 May 2014
State aid: Commission approves French regional aid map 2014-2020
The European Commission has approved France's map for granting regional development aid between 2014 and 2020 within the framework of the new regional aid guidelines adopted by the Commission in June 2013 (see IP/13/569). The new guidelines set out the conditions under which Member States can grant state aid to businesses for regional development purposes. They aim to foster growth and greater cohesion in the Single Market.
Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: “France's regional aid map supports the Commission's cohesion policy and contributes to foster well-targeted, more effective state aid. France will now be able to organise a smooth transition from the current regional aid system towards its regional development strategy for 2014-2020.''
A regional aid map defines the regions of a Member State eligible for national regional investment aid under EU state aid rules and establishes the maximum aid levels (so-called "aid intensities") for companies in the eligible regions. The map will be in force between 1 July 2014 and 31 December 2020.
The designated areas have a total population of 15.7 million or 24.2 % of France's population. The decision also sets the maximum levels of aid that can be granted to regional investment projects carried out by large enterprises in the assisted areas at 10% of investment costs for mainland France, depending on the area concerned. For outermost regions, including Mayotte, such aid intensities can reach between 45% and 70% depending on the area concerned. For investments carried out by SMEs, these percentages can be increased.
Under the regional guidelines, areas with a GDP per capita below 75% of the EU average are eligible in priority for regional aid, as the main purpose of regional aid is to foster the development of the less advantaged regions of Europe. In France, the outermost regions, which cover 2.9% of the population of France, will continue to be eligible for regional investment aid at maximum aid intensities varying between 45% and 70% of the eligible costs of a project. Under certain conditions, the outermost regions can also benefit from operating aid that is not linked to an investment project.
In order to allow Member States to tackle their own regional disparities, the guidelines allow regional aid for other regions, provided that they comply with an overall population coverage ceiling. As these regions are less disadvantaged from a European perspective than areas with a GDP per capita below 75% of the EU average, both the geographical scope and the aid intensity are lower. The regional map specifies which areas France chose to make eligible for such aid.
The maximum aid intensities for regional investment aid in the French assisted regions have slightly decreased (by 5 percentage points) as compared to the previous aid map, in line with the objectives of the new guidelines, which aim at focusing support on the most disadvantaged regions of Europe.
The regional aid guidelines set out the rules under which Member States can grant state aid to companies to support investments in new production facilities in the less advantaged regions of Europe, or to extend or modernise existing facilities. The ultimate purpose of regional state aid is to support economic development and employment. The regional aid guidelines contain rules on the basis of which Member States can draw up regional aid maps valid throughout the guidelines' period of validity (2014-2020). The maps identify in which geographical areas companies can receive regional state aid and at what proportion of the eligible investment costs "aid intensity". Eligible costs are the part of the total investment costs that may be taken into account for the calculation of the aid.
Article 107(3)(a) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) allows Member States to grant state aid to promote the economic development of areas where the standard of living is abnormally low or where there is serious underemployment. The regional aid guidelines define these areas as regions with a GDP per capita below 75 % of the EU average and the outermost regions.
Article 107(3)(c) TFEU allows regional state aid to facilitate the development of certain economic activities or of certain economic areas where it does not adversely affect trading conditions to an extent contrary to the common interest. The regional aid guidelines define these as areas of a Member State which are disadvantaged either in relation to the EU average, or in relation to the national average. The population coverage is distributed between Member States according to socioeconomic criteria which take into account regional disparities, including unemployment, at both EU and national levels. It is then for each Member State to decide in its regional map how to best use this room for manoeuvre to define more eligible areas in order to address its internal regional disparities.
The non-confidential version of today's decision will be made available under the case number SA.38182 in the State Aid Register on the 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.