Brussels, 7 May 2014
State aid: Commission approves Greek regional aid map 2014-2020
The European Commission has approved under EU state aid rules Greek's map for granting regional development aid between 2014 and 2020. The map is based on the new regional aid guidelines adopted by the Commission in June 2013 (see IP/13/569), which set out the conditions under which Member States can grant state aid to businesses for regional development purposes. The guidelines aim to foster growth and greater cohesion in the Single Market.
Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: “The Greek regional aid map supports the Commission's cohesion policy and contributes to the objective of better targeted and more effective regional state aid. Greece will now be able to organise a smooth transition from the current regional aid system towards its regional development strategy for 2014-2020 for all its regions.''
A regional aid map defines the regions of a Member State eligible for national regional investment aid under EU state aid rules. It will be in force between 1 July 2014 and 31 December 2020. The map also sets the maximum levels of aid (so-called "aid intensities") that can be granted to regional investment projects carried out by large enterprises in the assisted areas at between 10% and 25% of total investment costs, depending on the area concerned. These intensities can be increased for investments carried out by medium sized enterprises by 10% and for small enterprises by 20%.
The new regional aid map for Greece will cover its entire territory and 100 % of its population, because the country benefits from the European Stability Mechanism.
Regional aid is meant to benefit the most disadvantaged regions of Europe. Under the new map, seven areas (Anatoliki Makedonia and Thraki, Kentriki Makedonia, Thessalia, Ipeiros, Dytiki Ellada, Peloponnisos and Vorio Aigaio) which have a GDP per capita below 75% of the EU average - covering 56.1% of the population of Greece - will be eligible for regional investment aid.
In the previous period, four more areas had a GDP below 75% of the EU average. In order to ensure a smooth transition, the regions of, Ionia Nisia, Kriti, Dytiki Makedonia and Attiki covering 43.9% of the population of Greece, will continue to be eligible for regional aid until 2020. As from 2018, the maximum aid intensities will be reduced, except for the areas of Kastoria and Florina that share land borders with a country outside the European Economic Area (EEA) and are therefore entitled to keep higher aid intensities.
The maximum aid intensities for regional investment aid in the Greek assisted regions have slightly decreased as compared to the previous aid map (by 5 to 15 percentage points, depending on the region).
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. 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. As these regions are less disadvantaged than areas covered by Article 107(3)(a), both the geographical scope and the aid intensity are lower. The rest of Greece, outside the seven areas eligible for aid under Article 107(3)(a), will be eligible for support under Article 107(3)(c).
The non-confidential version of today's decision will be made available under the case number SA.38450 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