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PR(94)33: EFTA Surveillance Authority approves areas and intensities of regional aid in Finland

18.10.2002

The EFTA Surveillance Authority today authorised the map of areas eligible for regional aid under the EEA state aid rules and the corresponding aid ceilings for regional aid in Finland.

The decision was taken on the basis of a proposal from the Finnish Government notifying the Authority of plans to apply the proposed assisted areas and the maximum aid ceilings thereof from 1 January 1995 onwards. The aid ceilings are to be lowered from those being presently applied. They are linked to the map and will become the maximum cumulative aid ceilings applicable to regional aid schemes. 41,6 % of the Finnish population live in areas eligible for regional aid.

Following Finland's proposal, assisted areas are divided into development zones I, II, III and into temporary structural change areas, qualifying for different maximum aid ceilings. The proposed areas qualify for regional aid under Article 61(3xc) 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.

The three development zones (31 % of the population) cover the provinces of Lapland, Kainuu, South, North and Central Ostrobothnia, North Karelia, Central Finland, Vaasa as well as South and North Savo excluding certain sub-regional units which are not designated as assisted areas or which belong to the structural change areas. Furthermore, certain sub­regional units situated within the provinces of Satakunta, Pirkanmaa, Paijat-Hame and South Karelia belong to one of the development zones.

Development zone I covers 12,7 % of the population. The maximum aid intensity, i.e. the share of aid in investment costs of enterprises, in this zone is 35 % in gross terms. The additional 10 % gross for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) is subject to an absolute ceiling of 37 % gross which corresponds to 29,8 % in net terms after tax.

Development zones II and III cover 12,8 %n and 5,5 % of the population respectively. The maximum aid intensities in gross terms for these regions are 27 % o plus 10 % for SMEs in zone II and 20 % plus 10 % for SMEs in zone III. Structural change areas, which suffer from problems due to major job losses and the decline of certain industries, cover 10,6 % of the population. The maximum aid intensity in these areas is the same as in development zone 111.

The decision on eligible development zones under Article 61(3)(c) in Finland will apply until the end of 1997. The structural change areas will be valid until the end of 1995. By virtue of the Accession Treaty this decision will remain valid also after the accession of Finland to the European Union.

For further information please contact Maria Blassar (State Aid & Monopolies Directorate) on tel. 22 66 853. The list of areas eligible for regional aid is available upon request.




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