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PR(94)25: Surveillance Authority authorises aid for food and beverages industry in Austria


The EFTA Surveillance Authority today authorised two aid schemes aimed at improving the processing and marketing conditions for the food and beverages industry in Austria. Having found that the schemes, the new "TOP‑Eurofit Programme" and a supplement to the existing "Aid Scherne under the Business Structure Improvement Act (Richtlinien für die Gewährung von Förderungen nach dem Gewerbestrukturverbesserungsgesetz), are in line with the EEA Agreement, the Authority has decided not to raise objections to the aid measures in question.

The two schemes are special investment aid programmes for improving the processing and marketing conditions for agricultural products. The aid recipients will be enterprises of the food and beverages industry which are or will be located in Austria. The purpose of the schemes is to smoothen the adjustment of this sector of the industry to the expected increased competition due to the participation in the EEA Agreement and accession to the EU.

Under the TOP‑Eurofit Programme interest rate subsidies will be granted for loans taken up to finance investments for: improving product quality and marketing channels, the utilization of new processing methods and rationalizing and developing product presentation, preservation, treatment and processing of agricultural products or for utilizing by‑products or production waste. The authorisation of the aid scheme covers processed agricultural products falling under the scope of the EEA Agreement.

The aid will consist in a reduced interest rate for loans, the amount of which may range from 2,5 to 100 million ATS. The maximum aid intensity under the TOP‑Eurofit Programme will be fixed at 11% gross. In cases of cumulation with aid from other public sources the cumulated aid intensity may go up to 20% gross. The same maximum aid intensities apply for aid awards granted under the Aid Scheme under the Business Structure Improvement Act. The latter scheme also foresees investment aid to small and medium‑sized enterprises (SMEs) for the improvement of forwarding facilities (Speditionsanlagen) and individual logistic equipment (individuelle Logistikeinrichtungen) up to a maximum aid intensity of 11.8% gross. At least 25% of the investment costs would have to be financed from the enterprises' own resources or from external commercial financing.

For the new aid measures no new budget will be allocated on the federal level. The funds for the foreseen interest subsidies will be raised by reallocations from the overall budget of the two existing '7OP "‑programmes, which amounts to ATS 400 million (estimate for 1994) and the budget of the Aid Scheme under the Business Structure Improvement Act, which amounts to ATS 470 million (estimate for 1994). It is foreseen that the Austrian Länder contribute to the budget of the schemes with a top up of 40%. The TOP‑Eurofit Programme is to remain in force until the end of 1996.

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


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