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PR(06)09: The Authority examines state aid to support unpaid labour in research and development activities


The Authority decided to initiate the formal investigation procedure in respect of a newly proposed scheme by the Norwegian authorities to provide grants to support unpaid labour in research and development activities (the “Unpaid R&D Labour Scheme”).

The Unpaid R&D Labour Scheme was introduced because the Norwegian authorities considered that it would not be possible to support unpaid labour costs under the existing “Skattefunn Scheme”[1] under which research and development activities are supported by means of a tax deduction.

The Authority has assessed the Unpaid R&D Labour Scheme on the basis of the State Aid Guidelines concerning research and development. The Authority has taken the preliminary view that the costs which have not actually been incurred nor paid do not qualify as eligible costs within the meaning of the State Aid Guidelines on research and development.

Apart from this, the Authority doubts that aid awarded under the Unpaid R&D Labour Scheme constitutes an evident incentive to carry out research and development activities.   

However, the Authority considers that a “compensation scheme”, established by the Norwegian authorities for purposes of compensating companies for financial losses caused to their research and development projects during the years between 2002-2004 as a result of the fact that unpaid labour could not be covered by the Skattefunn Scheme falls under the de minimis threshold in the “de minimis Regulation”.

A decision to open the formal investigation procedure is without prejudice to the final decision to be adopted by the Authority. The opening decision will be published in the EEA Section of the Official Journal of the European Union and the EEA Supplement thereto,  inviting for the submission of comments within one month from the date of publication. Moreover, for information purposes the decision will also be published on the Authority’s website

For further information, please contact:

Mr Amund Utne,
Director, Competition & State aid Directorate,
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 50; or

Mrs Lena Sandberg-Mørch,
Officer, Competition & State aid Directorate,
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 69

For general information about the EEA state aid rules, please consult the state aid section of the Authority's website.

[1]The “Skattefunn” scheme was approved by the Authority in its Decision No. 171/02/COL of 25 September 2002 and Decision No. 16/03/COL of 5 February 2003.

8 March 2006

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