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PR(94)37: EFTA Surveillance Authority authorises new labour market aid scheme in Austria

18.10.2002

The EFTA Surveillance Authority today authorised a new aid facility under the Austrian Labour Market Promotion Act (Arbeitsmarktforderungsgesetz - AMFG), allowing the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs to award aid to investment projects and for rescue and restructuring purposes. Eligible for aid are enterprises of all sectors of the manufacturing industry and "flagship"-companies ("Leitbetriebe') in the tourism sector providing full-year employment. The new guidelines, known as "Richtlinien fur die Gewahrung von Beihilfen (Forderungen) gemdJ3 § 51a 3-S AMFG ", specify the criteria and the maximum intensities for individual awards of aid under the newly introduced provisions of the AMFG

Investment aid under the scheme may be awarded to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) throughout Austria and to big enterprises (more than 250 employees) only in those regions which have been authorised by the EFTA Surveillance Authority to receive regional aid up to certain limits. The maximum aid intensities are set with 15% gross for small enterprises and 7.5% gross for medium-sized enterprises. In assisted areas the maximum intensities vary between 15% and 40% net.

The rescue and restructuring aid part of the scheme fulfils the conditions for rescue and restructuring aid as reflected in Chapter 16 of the EFTA Surveillance Authority's State Aid Guidelines. Rescue aid takes the form of a six-month bridging loan at market rates and/or a guarantee to keep the firm in business while a restructuring plan is being worked out. The longer term loans, guarantees or, as the case may be, interest subsidies and grants for restructuring also fulfil the conditions for such aid. Rescue and restructuring aid to big enterprises which do not qualify as SMEs, have to be notified as individual cases to the Authority or, after accession of Austria to the EU, to the EU Commission before the aid is put into effect.

The EFTA Surveillance Authority concluded that the measures foreseen under the scheme in question promote objectives which are covered by the exemption clause under Article 61(3)(c) of the EEA Agreement and thus authorised the scheme. The new guidelines shall apply until 31 December 1997.

For further information please contact Wolfgang Mederer (State aid and Monopolies Directorate) on tel. 22 66 852




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