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PR(97)09: EFTA Surveillance Authority approves prolongation and amendment of state aid to the shipbuilding industry in Norway


The EFTA Surveillance Authority has decided not to raise objections to prolongation of existing Norwegian aid schemes in support of the shipbuilding industry.

The decision covers prolongation for the period October 1996 to December 1997 of the following three aid schemes: Grants for shipbuilding, newbuildings and conversions, Export credit guarantee for ships and the Guarantee scheme for ship construction.  These schemes were assessed and authorized by the Authority already in 1995.

The aid discipline applicable to the shipbuilding sector under the EEA Agreement during the above period is the same as it was from May 1995 to September 1996.  The ceiling on contract related aid to shipbuilding in the EFTA countries, as decided by the Authority, also remains unchanged, at 9% of the contract value before aid for ships whose contract value is at least ECU 10 million and 4,5% for ships of a lower contract value, as well as for ship conversions.

The Norwegian authorities have introduced two amendments to the Grant scheme for shipbuilding.  Firstly, the deadline for deliveries of ships supported under the scheme, which previously was 31 December 1998, is changed to three years from the date of contract. Secondly, the scheme has been opened for financing the building of ferries receiving government grants to operate ferry connections.  The Authority has found these amendments to be compatible with the provisions of the Shipbuilding Directive.  As the schemes have otherwise not been subject to any substantive changes, the Authority has concluded that they remain compatible with the Shipbuilding Directive.

The European Commission has in a recent decision concluded that aid for the construction of fishing vessels cannot be authorized under the Shipbuilding Directive unless they are for export outside the Community.  In the course of the procedure leading up to the Authority’s decision, the Norwegian Government has undertaken to propose to Parliament an adjustment of the Grant scheme for shipbuilding, so as to ensure that it will respect the rule that no aid is to be granted to shipyards for the construction or conversion of fishing vessels, except in respect of vessels for delivery outside the EEA.

For further information please contact Gudlaugur Stefánsson (Competition and State Aid Directorate) on tel. 28618 52.

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