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State Aid

PR(08)81: The Authority amends its guidelines on state aid


The EFTA Surveillance Authority adopted today several decisions with a view of amending or inserting new provisions concerning procedural or substantive rules governing its state aid investigations. The changes were subject to consultation with the EFTA States and the Commission.

Per Sanderud, the President of the Authority said: “It has today been decided to up-date our State Aid Guidelines, so that they correspond to the Commission’s similar set of guidelines.”

In particular, the Authority has introduced new chapters on state aid for railway undertakings, state aid to cinematographic and other audiovisual works and on recovery of unlawful and incompatible state aid. Moreover, the existing chapters on state aid granted in the form of guarantees and on the method for setting reference and discount rates have been amended, together with the Authority’s decision on implementing certain procedural rules with regard to handling state aid cases, which amongst others, sets out a new method for calculating interest rates applicable in recovery cases.

Railway undertakings:

The new Guidelines take account of the liberalisation of the sector, improving its competitiveness and capitalising on its strengths, especially from the environmental angle. The text adopted today will also make it possible to grant regional aid for the purchase and renewal of passenger rolling stock, under certain conditions, with a view towards the modernisation of rail transport. Moreover, these guidelines contain provisions regarding compensation for public service obligations.

Cinematographic and other audiovisual works:

These Guidelines set out the principles to be applied for the application of state aid rules to the cinema sector and for TV production. They are based on Chapter 2 of the European Commission’s Communication on certain legal aspects relating to cinematographic and other audiovisual works. The EEA Agreement also recognises the need for strengthening cultural cooperation in Article 13 of Protocol 31. Although the EEA Agreement does not contain a “cultural exemption” similar to Article 87(3)(d) EC, the Authority considers that, in line with its constant practice, film and TV production support measures may be approved on cultural grounds on the basis of Article 61(3)(c) EEA.

Recovery of unlawful and incompatible state aid:

In this new chapter, the Authority explains its policy in order to ensure effective implementation of recovery decisions. The chapter recalls main principles of recovery based on jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice and the EFTA Court and codifies the Authority’s and the Commission’s common practice regarding the enforcement of recovery decisions.


The new text of the Guidelines on state aid in this area sets out clear and transparent methodologies to calculate the aid element in a guarantee. The main aim of revising the Authority’s current guidelines on guarantees was to provide additional guidance and legal certainty to the EFTA States and stakeholders when assessing whether a guarantee contains an element of state aid or not. The new guidelines confirm that this assessment should be based on the market economy investor principle.

Method for setting reference and discount rates:

The Authority has also adopted today a new method for setting reference and discount rates used in the analysis of state aid cases for calculating the grant equivalent of aid and the aid element resulting from interest subsidy schemes.

The new method is in conformity with market principles as it contains a system to take account of the specific situation of the company or project. It is based on one-year inter-bank offered rate (IBOR) increased by a margin which depends on the creditworthiness of the company and the level of collateral offered.


For further information, please contact:

Mr. Per Andreas Bjørgan
Director, Competition and State Aid   Directorate,
Tel (+32)(0)2 286 18 36



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