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PR(03)31: EFTA Surveillance Authority adopts amendments to its State Aid Guidelines


The EFTA Surveillance Authority yesterday adopted several amendments to its State Aid Guidelines which take account of new developments in the EEA state aid practice as well as the entry into force of new Community state aid legislation in various areas. The Authority’s State Aid Guidelines were first adopted in 1994 and provide national administrations and enterprises with information on how the EFTA Surveillance Authority interprets and applies the provisions of the EEA Agreement governing state aid.

The amendments to the State Aid Guidelines are carried out after the amendments to Protocol 3 to the Surveillance and Court Agreement, which lays down the functions and powers of the EFTA Surveillance Authority in the field of state aid, have entered into force on 28 August 2003. Protocol 3 in its amended version now contains detailed procedural rules for the review of state aid by the EFTA Surveillance Authority and the State Aid Guidelines will refer to the amended Protocol 3 where necessary.

The first amendment of the Authority’s State Aid Guidelines concerns the introduction of a complaint form, which is intended to assist complainants by identifying the information necessary for the EFTA Surveillance Authority to follow up complaints in the area of state aid effectively. This should facilitate the treatment of complaints.

The second amendment deals with interest rates to be applied when aid granted unlawfully is being recovered. When negative decisions are taken in case of unlawful aid, the EFTA Surveillance Authority shall decide that the EFTA State concerned takes all necessary measures to recover the aid from the beneficiary. The aid to be recovered shall include interests at an appropriate rate fixed by the Authority. The question has arisen whether the interest rate should be applied on a simple basis or on a compound basis. With the present amendments the Authority is clarifying its position and informs the EFTA States and interested parties that the interest rates will be applied on a compound basis.

The Authority is further deleting the chapters on training aid, de minimis aid, aid to small and medium-sized enterprises in the State Aid Guidelines. The deletions reflect the incorporation of four respective block exemptions into the EEA Agreement. These block exemptions, which can be found in Annex XV on State Aid of the EEA Agreement, replace the existing guidelines as of their day of entry into force. The Authority consequently decided to delete the chapters. 

For further information, please contact Mr. Amund Utne, Director, tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 50, or Ms. Annette Kliemann, Officer, tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 80.

6  November 2003 

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