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PR(98)22: EFTA Surveillance Authority approves various State aid measures in Norway and prolong the current rules for rescuing and restructuring firms in difficulty


The EFTA Surveillance Authority  today decided to give a green light to plans to amend and prolong until the end of 1999 the application of higher aid intensities for two existing regional aid schemes within the four municipalities Kautokeino, Karasjok, Tana and Porsanger in the County of Finnmark, Norway. Higher aid intensities are part of the restructuring programme for Inner Finnmark introduced in 1993 due to the difficult situation for the Sami people. The aid is confined to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The Authority has concluded that aid in the form of Investment grants up to 50 per cent and Company development grants up to 75 per cent in the four municipalities, until 31 December 1999, qualify for exemption under Article 61(3)(c) of the EEA Agreement.

The Authority has also approved plans to amend and merge two existing regional aid schemes in Norway, the Regional investment grants scheme and the scheme for Grants for development of business and industry, into one scheme. The Authority considers that the new scheme will facilitate the development of certain economic activities without adversely affecting trading conditions to an extent contrary to the common interest. The aid scheme therefore qualifies for exemption under Article 61(3)(c) of the EEA Agreement. The exemption is not valid beyond 31 December 1999.

In addition , the Authority has today approved regional investment aid to a small ship repair yard, Øksfjord Slipp & Mek AS, located in the county of Finnmark, Norway.  The investment project consists of building a double slipway in concrete and some other improvements in the yard's facilities.  Total investment costs are NOK 2.345.000 (appr. ECU 270.000).  The Norwegian Industrial and Regional Development Fund (SND) plans to provide a grant of NOK 590.000 (appr. ECU 68.000), corresponding to 25,2% of the costs.  Loan financing by the SND is provided on commercial terms.  The aid was found to meet the relevant conditions of EEA rules on aid to the shipbuilding sector and on regional aid.  The investment will make it possible to haul ships into the production hall and carry out ship repairs in in-house conditions all year round.  This is particularly important given the harsh climatic conditions in the region.

Finally, the Authority has decided to prolong until the end of 1999 the current rules in its State Aid Guidelines on aid for rescuing and restructuring firms in difficulty.

For further information please contact Amund Utne on tel. +32-2-286 18 50.

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