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PR(94)13: Surveillance Authority adopts amendment to state aid rules


Regions with low population density eligible for regional aid

The EFTA Surveillance Authority today adopted an amendment to its State Aid Guidelines, making regions with very low population density eligible for regional aid. This decision follows a corresponding amendment by the European Commission to its regional aid rules in preparation for the coming enlargement of the European Union.

In substance, the amendment adds a third alternative criterion to the two existing main criteria to assess eligibility of a region for regional aid (i.e. low GDP per capita or high unemployment). Under this new criterion, a region may also be eligible for regional aid if its population density is less than 12.5 inhabitants per square kilometre.

"This is an important decision which will remove uncertainties which may have existed in the Nordic EFTA States as to whether their special regional problems are sufficiently reflected in the EEA state aid rules", states Heinz Zourek, Member of the College of the Authority in charge of State Aid.

In addition, certain criteria for transport aid in such areas are established, enabling the Authority under certain conditions to authorise aid to firms in remote areas. "These new rules will allow EFTA States to continue to apply measures which partially compensate firms for the additional costs of transport in remote areas and thereby help to avoid adverse effects to regional development in such areas", continues Mr Zourek.

For further information please contact Klaus Pendl (Press and Information Officer) at tel. 22 66 882.

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