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PR(98)07: The EFTA Surveillance Authority urges the Norwegian government to reconsider its position on regional aid


The EFTA Surveillance Authority has today responded to a letter from the Norwegian Government of 2 April 1998, by its Minister of Local Government and Regional Development. The Norwegian Government declared, in an unexpected move, its unwillingness to amend those parts of its proposal for a new map of areas in Norway eligible for regional investment aid, which the Authority is liable to find incompatible with the State aid rules of the European Economic Area.  In the response, the President of the Authority explains the reasons why the Authority is likely to take a negative view on the Norwegian proposal.  

Such a negative view would make awards of regional aid under existing schemes in Norway unlawful as from 1 May 1998, pending the conclusions of a formal investigation. During the investigation, which will last several months, awards of regional aid under existing schemes in favour of new projects cannot be granted without having been notified individually and subsequently approved by the Authority.

If regional aid is awarded in variance with the notification obligations referred to above, it will have to be considered as unlawfully granted. In such circumstances, and if the Authority after investigation finds that aids are incompatible with the functioning of the EEA Agreement, it will, as a rule, order an EFTA State to reclaim the unlawfully granted aid from the recipient.

 Considering the administrative consequences, and that the otherwise eligible aid recipients would suffer from the uncertainty and delays such a situation would produce, the Norwegian Government is urged to reconsider its position.

For further information please contact Mr. Knut Almestad on tel. 286 18 20 or Mr. Amund Utne on tel. 286 18 50.

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