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The Commission has decided to approve the 17th General Plan for joint Federal/Länder regional aid in Germany and to approve two special regional development programmes designed to provide alternative employment in certain coal mining and steel regions. The 17th General Plan runs for a four-year period up to 31 December 1991 and has a budget for 1988 of 3.5 bn DM (around 1.6 bn ECU) to be paid in the form of direct grants, interest subsidies, guarantees, etc. In terms of the areas to be aided, intensity levels, etc., it is similar to the 16th Plan approved by the Commission in December 1987. As part of an agreement reached last year between Mr Sutherland, EC Competition Commissioner, and Mr Bangemann, Federal Economics Minister, the coverage of regional aid in Germany is due to be further reduced by 1990. Therefore, the Commission has reserved its right to review the authorisation of regional aid in any area after this period in the light of a review to be undertaken with the German authorities. The Commission has decided to approve a special four-year programme for the Aachen/Jülich region, with a budget of 200m DM. Although unemployment levels in the area are currently below those normally regarded by the Commission as serious enough to require regional aid, the closure of the local cloalmine is expected to bring about important job losses (around 7 700). For this reason the Commission has decided to approve the proposal for a time-limited aid programme and to monitor it closely. The German authorities have also proposed another special programme for 12 labour market regions hit by the decline of the coal and steel industries. This programme will also run until the end of 1991 and has a budget of 1bn DM. It is proposed to include the previously unaided labour market regions of Wesel-Moers, Hamm-Beckum (part) and certain areas of Osnabrück in the programme. Having carried out a socio-economic analysis of these regions and taking account of future job losses the Commission has decided to approve the programme. Both special programmes will be subject to the general review of German regional aid before the end of 1990. For further Details: E. Reuter (Spokesman - 235.4323 / 235.1321)E. Kaiser (Assistant - 235.2210).