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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 9 July 2014

State aid: Commission approves exemptions from Danish tax on advertising to households

The European Commission has found a series of reductions and exemptions from a Danish tax on non-nominative advertising material delivered to households, to be in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission found that while some of these measures contain state aid, it is compatible with EU rules as it furthers EU environmental and cultural goals without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.

Denmark plans to introduce a tax on non-nominative advertising material delivered to households, as it is concerned by the large volume of waste paper generated by households. The tax amounts to DKK 4/kg (around €0.54). A reduced rate of DKK 2/kg applies to advertising material bearing the EU Ecolabel and three products are exempted:

  • advertising material concerning societies covered by the Danish General Education Act

  • weekly newspapers with at least 25% editorial content and

  • telephone directories with at least 60% editorial content.

The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(3)(c) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), allowing the granting of aid for the development of certain economic activities.

The Commission concluded that the reduced tax rate for advertising materials bearing the EU Ecolabel does not constitute state aid in the meaning of EU rules since it does not selectively favour specific companies. The Commission also found that the exemption for advertising material on activities in and from societies covered by the Danish General Education Act does not involve any state aid because it has no effect on trade between Member States.

The Commission also found that the tax exemptions for weekly newspapers and telephone directories constitute state aid, in particular because they are selective. However, this aid safeguards the social role of weekly newspapers in disseminating local information and, respectively, provides contact and communication possibilities for, in particular, elderly people and people in sparsely populated areas. Its positive impact therefore outweighs any potential distortions of competition triggered by the aid, in line with EU state aid rules.

Initially, Denmark had notified two extra exemptions from the tax. However, one of these exemptions does not target advertising material and is therefore excluded from the scope of the measure. The Danish authorities agreed to waive the second one, after the Commission raised state aid concerns, having received several complaints from industry associations and companies considering that the criteria for the exemption fitted just one company, which would be very distortive of competition.

The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.35683 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.

Contacts :

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

Yizhou Ren (+32 229 94889)

For the public: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 6 7 8 9 10 11 or by e­mail


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