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PR(94)36: EFTA Surveillance Authority approves aid for businesses' internationalisation in Finland


The EFTA Surveillance Authority today authorised a proposal to amend an existing aid scheme promoting businesses' internationalisation in Finland. The Authority states that the changes proposed by the Finnish Government effectively make the aid scheme compatible with the EEA Agreement.

The aim of the scheme is to promote internationalisation and exporting capabilities of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by diversifying their exports and in particular by launching exports of new SMEs. The scheme is administered by the Ministry of Trade and Industry. However, the decision-making on the granting of the aid is delegated to the Regional Business Offices of the Ministry in cases where the total cost of the project to be aided remains below FIM 300,000.

The scheme on aid for businesses' internationalisation covers soft aid for consultancy help, training and the dissemination of knowledge as well as for the purpose of encouraging co­operation between enterprises and for other measures on export promotion. The purposes for which aid is given include, inter alia, support for attending seminars abroad or participation in fairs and exhibitions as well as the use of consultants for advice, market research and feasibility studies. No operating costs can be aided under the scheme.

Aid, which is given in the form of a grant, cannot be given on a continuous basis but only during the start-up phase of a project. Aid can be given up to a maximum period of two years; in some cases only up to one year. The maximum aid intensity is 50 % of the eligible costs.

The budgetary commitments for the proposed scheme for 1995 are FIM 247 million. The aid can be cumulated with aid from other sources. The cumulation of aid is, however, controlled by the Ministry of Trade and Industry so as to prevent the 50 % ceiling to be exceeded.

The definition of SMEs is compatible with the EEA provisions on State aid, as stated in chapter 10 of the Procedural and Substantive Rules in the Field of State Aid, adopted by the Authority on 19 January 1994. Furthermore, the scheme is in line with the rules and established practice of the European Commission on 'soft aid' according to which aid of up to 50% gross is generally accepted for advice and help by outside consultants provided to SMEs.

For further information please contact Maria Blassar (State Aid & Monopolies Directorate) on tel. 22 66 853.

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