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PR(94)26: Norwegian areas eligible for regional aid authorised by the EFTA Surveillance Authority

15.10.2002

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 investment aid in Norway. The geographical area covered by the map is identical to the area designated for regional investment aid under the presently applied Norwegian Regulations (Forskrifter orn avgrensningen av det geografiske virkeområdet for de distriktspolitiske virkemidlene). 25 % of the Norwegian population live in areas eligible for regional aid.

The decision was taken on the basis of a proposal from the Norwegian Government notifying the Authority of plans to introduce certain adjustments in the legal provisions for regional investment aid. By this authorisation the Authority has taken a decision of principle on the compatibility of the Norwegian 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. Therefore, also in the case of accession to the EU, the decision will remain valid and shall be applicable until the end of 1997.

Maximum aid limits will be linked to this map. They will become the maximum cumulative aid ceilings for regional investment aid. These ceilings are therefore not linked to any, specific aid scheme. The map of assisted areas in Norway applies to all existing aid schemes on which the Authority has received information.

Following Norway's proposals, assisted areas are divided in three target zones, qualifying for different maximum amounts of aid. Target zone A, covering 2% of the population, qualifies for regional aid under Article 61(3Xa) of the EEA Agreement It includes the county of Finnmark and the 4 northernmost municipalities of the county of Troms. lle maximum aid ceilings allowed for regional investment aid in zone A are 35 % net grant equivalent (NGE) plus 15 % (gross) for small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs).

Target zones B and C, covering 23 % of the population, qualify for regional aid under Article 61(3)(c). 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 maximum aid intensities allowed for these regions are 15% NGE plus 10 % (gross) for SMEs in target zone C (population coverage: 12 %) and 25% NGE plus 5 % (gross) for SMEs in target zone B (population coverage: 11%).

Target zone B covers the major part of northern Norway plus remote and sparsely populated areas in southern Norway. Target zone C covers other assisted areas in southern Norway plus the municipalities of Tromsø and Bodø in northern Norway.

For further information please contact Morten Sandberg (State Aid & Monopolies Directorate) on tel. 22 66 855. The list of areas eligible for regional aid is available upon request.




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