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PR(94)08: Austrian areas eligible for regional aid authorised by the EFTA Surveillance Authority

14.10.2002

Today the EFTA Surveillance Authority authorised a map of Austria listing the areas, which are eligible for regional aid under the EEA state aid rules. The list has been proposed by Austria earlier this year. The decision is among the first state aid decisions of the EFTA Surveillance Authority, which is entrusted vis‑à‑vis the EFTA States participating in the European Economic Area with the same functions as the European Commission vis‑à‑vis the EU Member States.

The decision constitutes a first and important step for Austria to comply with the state aid rules in the EEA context, which are identical to the rules applied in the European Union. Therefore, also after accession to the EU, the decision will remain valid and shall be applicable until 1998. Any new plans for aid schemes to grant regional aid as well as regional aid under nine important existing aid schemes may be awarded only in those areas indicated in the decision as eligible for regional aid and up to a maximum aid ceiling. The geographical application of all other regional investment aid schemes will still have to be brought in line with the approved map.

The assisted areas cover 35,16% of the Austrian population. Thus, regional aid is allowed to enterprises in parts of all Austrian Länder except Vienna and Vorarlberg, the most western Land of the country.

Areas covering 31,69% of the population qualify for regional aid under Article 61 (3) (c) of the EEA Agreement. Under this provision, regions with low GDP or high unemployment compared to the national average of the State in which they are located may be eligible for aid. The maximum aid intensities allowed for (c)‑regions in Austria range from 15% net grant equivalent (population coverage: 2,99%) to 20% (population coverage: 26,43%) and 25% in Obersteiermark‑Ost, which suffers from severe structural problems and high unemployment (population coverage: 2,99%).

Burgenland, which is located in eastern Austria along the Hungarian border, qualifies for regional aid under Article 61 (3) (a), as its WP/PPS arrives at only 69% of the EEA average. For such regions, the economic assessment and comparison with other regions is made in an European (EEA) context and not in the national context. The allowed maximum aid intensities are 30% for the northern and 40% for the central and southern part of the Land.

The new economic promotion act of Burgenland, which adjusts most of the aid awarded by the Land to EEA rules and has a budget of 100 million ATS, was authorised by the EFTA Surveillance Authority in its first state aid decision already last week.

For further information please contact Klaus Pendl (Press & Information Officer) at tel. 22 66 882, Wolgang Mederer (State Aid & Monopolies Dir.) tel. 22 66 852.

The list of areas eligible for regional aid is available upon request.




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