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State Aid

PR(09)49: The Norwegian Aviation College in Bardufoss received unlawful State aid

1.7.2009

The EFTA Surveillance Authority has today found that the direct grant of NOK 4,5 million from the Norwegian State budget and a loan guarantee by Troms County, both in favour of Norwegian Aviation College (NAC) in Bardufoss, Norway, constituted unlawful state aid within the meaning of Article 61(1) of the EEA Agreement.

None of the justifications invoked by Norwegian authorities allowed the Authority to find that the aid was compatible with the Agreement. The Norwegian authorities are therefore requested to take all necessary measures to recover this aid from the beneficiary, although the Authority is aware that NAC has been subject to bankruptcy proceedings.

In a previous case, the Authority assessed municipal kindergartens as not being subject to the state aid rules because they fulfil an educational function and are primarily publicly funded. However, the services provided by NAC were funded essentially by private (student) contributions and therefore do not escape examination under those rules. The conditions under which the aid to NAC was given were furthermore of such a general character that the exception for services of general economic interest in Article 59(2) of the EEA Agreement cannot be invoked.

On the other hand, project funding and loans granted in favour of Norsk Luftafartshøgskole (a foundation whose aim is to promote the operation of airline pilot education in the north of Norway) by Troms County and Målselv Municipality were found not to amount to state aid, as it was not an undertaking engaged in economic activity.

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Lorna Armati,Senior Officer
Legal and Executive Affairs department
tel. (+32)(0)2 286 18 39

 

1 July 2009





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