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PR(94)38: Swedish regional aid areas and amendments of Swedish regional aid schemes authorised by the EFTA Surveillance Authority

18.10.2002

The EFTA Surveillance Authority today authorised the map of areas eligible for regional aid in Sweden under the EEA state aid rules and the corresponding ceilings for regional investment aid in Sweden. At the same time the EFTA Surveillance Authority authorized amendments of certain regional aid schemes in Sweden.

The decision was taken on the basis of a proposal from the Swedish Government notifying the Authority of plans to establish the new aid areas as a basis for a well co-ordinated regional policy.

Following Sweden's proposal, the assisted areas are divided into three categories: Low population density area, a so called Target-6 area and Structural change areas. The Target-6 area falls within the Low population density area. These areas qualify for regional aid under Article 61(3)(c) of the EEA Agreement. Under this provision, regions with low GDP/capita or high unemployment compared to the national average as well as regions with low population density may be eligible for aid. Combined, the assisted areas cover 18.5% of the Swedish population.

The low population density area covers the counties of Norrbotten, Vasterbotten, Jamtland and Vasternorrland, as well as certain municipalities within the counties of Gavleborg, Kopparberg, Varmland and Alvsborg. This area covers 14% of the Swedish population.

The Target-6 area is a part of the Low population density area and covers the most sparsely populated regions within the counties of Norrbotten, Vasterbotten, Jamtland, Vasternorrland, Gavleborg, Kopparberg and Varmland. The Target-6 area has a population coverage of 5,1%.

The temporary Structural change areas, which suffer from problems due to major job losses and the decline of certain industries, cover at present 4,5% of the Swedish population.

Maximum aid limits are linked to this new map of assisted areas. In net terms, after taking account of taxation, they range from 18,3% (25,6% for small and medium-sized enterprises) in the Low population density area outside the Target-6 area, as well as in the Structural change areas, to 25,6% (29,2% for SMEs) in the Target-6 area.

By this authorisation the Authority has taken a decision of principle on the compatibility of the Swedish system of regional investment aid with the rules on state aid in the EEA Agreement, which are identical to the rules applied in the European Union. The decision will therefore remain valid after    Sweden(s) accession to the European Union. The Low population density area and the Target-6 area shall be applicable until the end of 1999. The Structural change areas shall be reviewed before the end of 1997.

The amendments of the regional aid schemes consist on the one hand of several small changes proposed in relation to a Government Bill on regional policy presented to the Swedish Parliament earlier this year. On the other hand they involve adjustments following the EFTA Surveillance Authority’s review of these schemes, in order to ensure that they are fully compatible with the state aid provisions of the EEA Agreement.

Direct and indirect transport aid, as well as the Employment grant scheme, are however not covered by this review of the Swedish regional aid schemes.

For further information please contact Gudlaugur Stefansson (State Aid / Monopolies Directorate) on tel. 22 66 854. The list of areas eligible for regional aid is available upon request.

 




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