Regulation on Exempt Aid

Commission Regulation in 2014 declares certain categories of aid to be compatible with the internal market in accordance with Articles 107 and 108 of the EU Treaty.  It enables EU states to give higher amounts of state aid without prior Commission approval.

The Regulation broadens aid thresholds for research and development, risk finance, sports facilities and cultural and heritage projects. It broadens potentially exempt categories to include local and broadband infrastructure, research, energy, sport and recreational infrastructure, innovative clusters, regional development projects, cultural, heritage and conservation activities, audiovisual works.  It simplifies and clarifies the conditions which public aid must satisfy in order to benefit from the exemption.

Guidelines Regional Aid

The EU has published guidelines on regional aid.  This deals with how states may grant investment aid to companies in order to support the development of disadvantaged areas for the period 2014 to 2020. The guidelines seek to encourage economic growth by promoting investment in projects that bring real added value for regional development, particularly in the most disadvantaged regions.

The guidelines provide rules under which states may grant state aid to companies to support investments in new production facilities in less advantaged areas or to modernise existing facilities.  States may draw regional aid maps in order to identify which areas qualify.

Services of General Interest

2011 Communication sets out revised EU state rules on services of general economic interest.  The rules give guidance on the distinction between economic and non-economic activities and the qualification of certain entities as undertakings.

It provides for the definition of services of general economic interest.  It provides for the thresholds applicable to such services and the levels at which it is deemed to affect trade between states, thereby coming within the EU state aid rules.

The Communication provides requirements that public authorities must follow under state aid rules when they entrust an undertaking with the performance of a service of general economic interest. It provides for conditions under which payment for services of general economic interest does not involve state aid.

The tender must select the provider at least cost for the community. The price charged must be in line with that of an efficient and well-run undertaking.  The Communication provides for increased convergence between the application of state aid and public procurement rules.

De Minimus Aid

2012 Regulation provides for de minimus or threshold levels in respect of state aid to businesses providing services of general economic interest. If the state intends to grant aid below the threshold levels under the regulation, it must inform the undertaking/business concerned in writing of the proposed amount of the aid, the nature of the service of general economic interest and the fact that it is de minimis in character.

Prior to granting the aid, the state shall obtain a declaration from the undertaking in written or electronic about any other de minims aid received under the regulation or other regulations during the current and two previous years.  States must ensure that new sums advanced will not increase the total of de minimis aid above €500,000.

Sale of Land I

EU communication 2015 provides guidance concerning the application of EU competition laws in the sale of lands and buildings.  It applies to the sale of lands and buildings by public authority.

The sale of lands and buildings must be sufficiently well publicised so that the selling price is determined by the market value.  It must be repeatedly advertised over a period of two months or more in the national or international press when the intended sale of land or buildings may attract investors operating on an EU-wide or international scale.

An offer is unconditional when the buyer can decide how to use the property. Restrictions may be imposed for general public purposes.  If the unconditionality and publicity criteria are met, the sale does not involve any element of state aid.  If however, the sale is made without an unconditional bidding procedure being used, an asset valuer must be appointed to establish the selling price.

Sale of Land II

In the case of a sale without an unconditional billing procedure, an evaluation should be carried out by one or more independent asset valuers on the basis of generally accepted market indicators and valuation standards.  The market price established accordingly is the minimum price that can be agreed upon without granting state aid.  The asset valuer must be a person of good repute and independence.

If a fixed value cannot be obtained, a divergence of up to five percent from the value can be deemed to be in line with market conditions.  If the building cannot be sold at this juncture, then a new valuation must be carried out.

Without prejudice to the de minimus rules, states must notify the Commission of any sale that is not concluded on the basis of an open and unconditional bidding procedure, accepting the best or only bid and any sale that was in the absence of such procedure, undertaken at less than market value as established by an independent valuer.  A third party may contact the Commission if it suspects that an agreement for the sale of land and building comprises a state aid element.


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