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PR(95)12: Amendments to two Norwegian aid schemes authorized by the EFTA Surveillance Authority


The EFTA Surveillance Authority today authorized amendments to an existing Norwegian aid scheme, the 'Restructuring and Initiative Grant' scheme, "Omstillingsbevilgningen". The objective of the scheme is to reduce actual or potential unemployment problems by supporting the process of establishing a more diversified economic base in targeted regions typically dependant upon a single major employer. The scheme provides grants for investments as well as for consultancy help and training. The budget allocation for 1995 is NOK 70.6 million.

Investment aid under the amended rules of the scheme may benefit regions defined in the Authority's decision on the map of assisted areas for Norway of 16 November 1994. In these regions "soft" aid for consultancy help and training to large enterprises is allowed up to the same ceilings as investment aid, i.e 35%, 25% and 15% of eligible costs in target zones A, B and C respectively. Otherwise, "soft" aid up to 50% is restricted to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). All of these ceilings are cumulative in the sense that they also apply when aid to a supported project is granted from different sources.

On Thursday, 14 December 1995 amendments to another existing Norwegian aid scheme, the 'Industrial R&D Contracts' scheme, were authorized. The earlier rules of the scheme restricted its application only to SMEs. This requirement was altered to allow also for aid to non-SMEs in special cases. For the maximum levels of support, 60 % for basic industrial research and 35 % for applied research and development respectively, the recipient nevertheless needs to be an SME. For other recipients, the maximum levels of support are 50 % for basic industrial research and 25 % for applied research and development respectively. The budget allocation for 1995 is NOK 39 million.

The Authority considers that both schemes will facilitate the development of certain economic activities or areas without adversely affecting trading conditions to an extent contrary to the common interest. The aid schemes therefore qualify for exemption under Article 61(3)(c) of the EEA Agreement. The Norwegian Government is obliged to submit annual reports on the application of the schemes.

For further information please contact Mr. Jorma Pihlatie (Competition and State Aid Directorate) on tel. 286 18 50.

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