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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 13 June 2014

State aid: Commission adopts new rules to support important projects of common European interest

The European Commission has set out criteria under which Member States can support transnational projects of strategic significance for the EU and for the achievement of Europe 2020 objectives, in line with EU state aid rules. This is part of the Commission's State Aid Modernisation (SAM) initiative, aimed at fostering growth and competitiveness in the EU. The communication will enter into force on 1 July 2014.

Commission Vice-President in charge of competition policy, Joaquín Almunia, said: "The rules on support for important projects of common interest give Member States a tool to address market failures in financing large transnational projects of a strategic importance."

The Commission has adopted a Communication on Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs) aimed at encouraging Member States to channel their public spending to large projects that make a clear contribution to economic growth, jobs and the competitiveness of Europe. Where private initiatives fail to materialise because of the significant risks and the transnational cooperation such projects entail, Member States may fill the funding gap to overcome such market failures and boost the realisation of projects that otherwise would not have taken off.

Key features of the IPCEI communication are:

  • Extending existing provisions on IPCEIs to any sector of the economy. EU state aid rules on research (see IP/06/1600 and MEMO/06/441) and the environment (see IP/08/80 and MEMO/08/31) already contained some provisions on IPCEIs, which are replaced by today's Communication. The new provisions are neutral as to the sector where the IPCEI project is realised. This will make it much easier to support important projects with a clear European dimension in areas such as R&D, cross-border transport, or energy that would otherwise have needed to be assessed under several different sets of rules.

  • Diversifying forms of support. Member States may grant repayable advances, loans, guarantees or grants to IPCEIs.

  • Increasing aid intensity. Where justified, public support may cover up to 100% of the funding gap on the basis of a large set of eligible costs.

  • Allowing aid for the first industrial deployment of an R&D project, i.e. during the up-scaling of the pilot facilities and the testing phase.

The text of the communication is available at:

http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/modernisation/index_en.html

See also MEMO/14/423.

Background

The communication is part of the Commission's SAM initiative (see IP/12/458), setting an ambitious modernisation program fostering sustainable, smart and inclusive growth by encouraging more effective aid measures and focusing the Commission’s scrutiny on cases with the biggest impact on competition. As part of this package, the Commission has already reformed its state aid procedures (see IP/13/728), exempted more aid measures from prior notification to the Commission (see IP/13/587) and introduced new transparency requirements (see IP/14/588). The Commission has also adopted new guidelines on state aid for broadband (see IP/12/1424), regional development (see IP/13/569), cinema (see IP/13/1074), airports and airlines (see IP/14/172), risk finance (see IP/14/21), energy and environment (see IP/14/400) as well as R&D and innovation (see IP/14/586).

The IPCEI Communication is based on Article 107(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which allows Member States to grant aid to promote the execution of an important project of common European interest.

Contacts :

Antoine Colombani (+32 2 297 45 13, Twitter: @ECspokesAntoine )

Yizhou Ren (+32 229-94889)


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