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PR(06)19: State Aid Guidelines amended

19.4.2006

The EFTA Surveillance Authority today adopted the following amendments to its State Aid Guidelines:.

I.          Micro, small and medium-sized enterprises

One amendment incorporates a new definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises into the State Aid Guidelines. The new definition is based on the Commission Recommendation 2003/361/EC[1] on the definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises which replaces the previous Commission Recommendation 96/280/EC on the definition of small and medium-sized enterprises[2]. The new definition of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises was already included in the Annex to the block exemption regulation on small and medium-sized enterprises. However, the Authority has decided to follow the approach of the Commission and maintain also separate guidelines on the matter.

II.        Short-term export credit insurance

Other amendments concern Chapter 17A of the State Aid Guidelines on short-term export credit insurance. These amendments mirror those adopted by the European Commission in its Communication on short-term export credit insurance in December 2005[3].

The current Chapter 17A draws a distinction between export credit insurance for "marketable" risks which covers short-term commercial risks in respect of non-public debtors in the EEA and certain other countries; and insurance for (ii) "non-marketable" risks which covers all other risks, such as politicial and catastrophe risks. State aid for insuring marketable risks is not allowed while this possibility is not excluded in respect of non-marketable risks. 

The amendments do not change the definition of marketable risks. However, it has become clear to the Authority that, in the majority of the EEA  States, there is unavailable or insufficient cover of short-term export credit insurance offered by private insurers to small companies with a limited export turnover. The Authority, therefore, has introduced amendments which allow export-related risks of small companies with a limited export turnover to be considered as temporarily non-marketable in the EEA  States where there is no adequate offer by the private market.

The newly amended guidelines on short-term export credit insurance expire on 31 December 2010.

[1] Published in OJ L 124, 20.5.2003, p. 36.
[2] Published in OJ L 107, 30.4.1996, p. 4.
[3] Published in OJ C 352, 22.12.2005, p. 22.

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Lena Sandberg-Mørch
Officer, Competition & State Aid Directorate
Tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 69,
on the guidelines on micro, small and medium-sized enterprises and on short-term export credit insurance.

Mr. Espen Bakken
National Expert, Competition & State Aid Directorate
Tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 18,
on the guidelines on short-term export credit insurance.

19 April 2006



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