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PR(99)06: The EFTA Surveillance Authority clears a new aid scheme: the Norwegian environment fund


The EFTA Surveillance Authority  decided 14 May 1999 not to raise objections to a new aid scheme: The Norwegian Environment Fund ("Statens Miljøfond"(SMF)).

SMF is a new loan scheme financed by the Ministry of the Environment and administered by the Industrial and Regional Development Fund (SND). The objective of SMF is to stimulate the use and development of new technology, which can improve the environment. Projects that go beyond mandatory environmental standards, or projects in fields where there are no mandatory standards, reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases and other discharges harmful to the environment, can be subsidised by SMF through loans with lower interest rates than can be achieved in the capital markets.

Loans from SMF involve State aid in the meaning of Article 61(1) of the EEA Agreement. Aid for investment that allows significantly higher levels of environmental protection than those required by mandatory standards may, according to the Authority's State Aid Guidelines[1], be authorised up to a maximum of 30% gross of the eligible costs. If the investment is carried out by Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs), an extra 10 percentage points gross of aid may be allowed.

The aid intensity foreseen for loans from SMF is within the maximum limits set by the State Aid Guidelines. The legal provisions for the scheme also comply with the Guidelines.  

The EFTA Surveillance Authority has therefore concluded that aid in the form of loans from SMF qualify for exemption under Article 61(3)(c) of the EEA Agreement as aid to facilitate the development of certain economic activities without adversely affecting trading conditions to an extent contrary to the common interest.

For further information please contact Amund Utne on tel. +32-2-286 18 50 or Rolf Egil Tønnessen on tel. +32-2-286 18 56.

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[1] Procedural and Substantive Rules in the Field of State Aid (State Aid Guidelines), adopted and issued by the EFTA Surveillance Authority on 19 January 1994. Published in Official Journal L 231, 03.09.1994.

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