Around 95% of new implemented aid measures fell under the new General Block Exemption Regulation and could be implemented without prior Commission approval.
Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner in charge of competition, said: "The modernisation of State Aid rules, which we started in 2012, is benefitting both those that receive state aid and public authorities. More than nine out of ten new aid measures are being paid out without requiring prior authorisation from the Commission. This avoids unnecessary delays and allows us to focus our efforts on state aid more likely to cause competition and trade problems."
The annual State Aid Scoreboard isbased on expenditure reports provided by Member States and covers all existing aid measures to manufacturing industries, services, agriculture and fisheries. It also includes aid granted to financial institutions in the context of the financial and economic crisis. In practice, the only aid that is not covered by the Scoreboard is most of the support to railways and services of general economic interest.
The 2016 State Aid Scoreboard shows that:
- Around 95% of new aid measures for which expenditure was reported was granted under the new General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) and so could be disbursed more quickly - an absolute increase of about 24% compared to 2013. About 43% of all State aid spending for SMEs was granted under the GBER. This value was respectively 46% for research, development and innovation, 55% for regional development, 69% for employment and 96% for training. As can be seen, most State aid fostering economic growth, jobs and other common interest objectives could therefore be directly implemented by Member States without prior notification or approval by the Commission.
- At the same time, notified measures that are still subject to more careful scrutiny tend to cover bigger budgets and spending than in the past, in line with the Commission's approach to be 'big on big things and small on small things'. In particular, in 2015, 29% of all implemented notified measures exceeded €5 million in spending, an absolute increase of about 5% compared to 2014.
- In 2015, Member States spent €98.2 billion, i.e. 0.67% of EU GDP, on state aid. In 2014, the equivalent spending was €101.2 billion, i.e. 0.72% of EU GDP.
- Spending increasingly targets overall objectives of Community interest, such as regional development, employment, environmental protection, research, development and innovation, risk capital and support to SMEs. In 2015, more than 85% of total state aid spending was allocated to these objectives of common interest, an absolute increase of about 10% compared to 2012.
- About 46% of total aid spending in the EU was granted in support of the environment and energy saving measures. In 15 Member States, most state aid spending was used for these purposes, to help them meet in particular their renewable energy targets.
State aid Modernisation
Since May 2012, the Commission has implemented a major reform package, State Aid Modernisation. The reform allows Member States to quickly implement State aid that fosters investment, economic growth and job creation, leaving the Commission to focus its State aid control on cases most liable to distort competition.
As part of this package, new rules were introduced in July 2014 to cut red tape for less distortive aid measures, which Member States no longer have to notify in advance to the Commission (the GBER). At the same time, measures that might seriously harm competition or fragment the Single Market are subject to more careful scrutiny.
A number of initiatives aiming at safeguarding the balance between flexibility and responsibility have also been introduced, namely in terms of transparency, monitoring and evaluation.
Since Member States no longer have to notify the simpler cases, Commission staff are now able to work intensively on the more complex cases. Despite increased complexity, the duration of those procedures is now stable at about four months.
In particular, under the new transparency requirements, Member States are required since 1 July 2016 to publish the name of the beneficiary and the amount of aid for each state aid award above €500,000. The Commission has developed a new IT platform – Transparency Award Module (TAM) – where all Member States are expected to start encoding and publishing information. As of today, about 1700 aid awards have been published by 19 Member States.