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State Aid

State Aid Scoreboard: Towards better-targeted state aid expenditure



Overall state aid expenditure by the EFTA States remained broadly stable in 2012 compared to the previous year. The upward trend in horizontal aid for cross-sectoral purposes continued with an increase in aid for research and development and for regional development.

These are among the main findings in the EFTA Surveillance Authority's State Aid Scoreboard for 2012 for the EEA EFTA States. The report was published today.

State aid is assistance provided by public bodies to commercial undertakings. The scoreboard is a benchmarking tool for measuring trends in state aid expenditure across the EFTA States over time.

Ms Oda Helen Sletnes, President of the Authority, commented:“Aid for horizontal objectives of common interest accounted for over 90% of total non-crisis aid in the EFTA States for the past two years, which reflects the Authority's efforts in promoting better-targeted expenditure. Focusing on initiatives which facilitate inclusive and sustainable growth assumes even greater importance in the aftermath of the financial crisis”.

Iceland's total state aid expenditure increased from EUR 31 million in 2011 to EUR 107 million in 2012, mainly due to an increase in crisis aid (the Housing Financing Fund). However, crisis aid still remained far below the exceptional levels reached at the height of the financial and economic crisis in Iceland. Sectoral aid was otherwise completely phased out in Iceland in 2012 and Iceland's spending on horizontal objectives, such as research and development and regional development, increased slightly.

Norway increased its overall state aid expenditure from EUR 2,787 million in 2011 to EUR 2,925 million in 2012. In particular, Norway increased its spending on regional development and on research and development aid. This outweighed a slight decrease in Norway's aid expenditure for environmental protection and energy-saving purposes which still accounted for a significant proportion of Norway's overall aid expenditure.

Liechtenstein continued to grant aid exclusively for cultural objectives. This aid expenditure decreased in CHF values but, due to exchange rate developments, increased in EUR values.

State aid expenditure in the EFTA States. All amounts in million euros, in current prices:

  Iceland Norway Liechtenstein
  2011 2012 2011 2012 2011 2012
Total state aid 30.54 107.06 2786.88 2924.83 1.49 1.50
Horizontal Aid
Research & development & innovation 12.25 14.85 380.86 436.90 - -
Regional development 6.56 7.21 915.40 991.50 - -
Environmental protection & energy saving - - 1019.19 986.12 - -
SME - - 18.08 19.42 - -
Employment 0.87 0.43 100.30 60.51 - -
Other horizontal objectives 1.95 3.69 124.16 183.19 1.49 1.50
Sectoral Aid
Crisis aid 4.15 80.88 - - - -
Transport aid - - 228.89 247.20 - -
Other sectoral aid 4.76 - - - - -

A comparison with the EU Member States shows that Norway's aid expenditure (0.69% of GDP) remained above the EU average in 2012 (0.52% of GDP), although the gap has narrowed since 2011. Iceland's aid expenditure (0.25% of GDP) remained well below the EU average and Liechtenstein's aid expenditure was the lowest of all of the EEA States in 2012 (at 0.03% of GDP). Due to difficulties in comparing the precise burden that crisis-related aid measures have placed on public finances across the EEA, crisis aid is excluded in this comparison.

Progress was also visible in cases involving the recovery of illegal state aid by the EFTA States with the closure of five recovery cases during 2012.

See the full State Aid Scoreboard for 2012 here


For further information, please contact:

Mr. Andreas Kjeldsberg Pihl
Press & Information Officer
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 66
mob. (+32)(0)492 900 187


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