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State Aid

State Aid Scoreboard 2016: The EFTA States spend more on aid



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Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway all increased their state aid expenditure last year.
Norway is the only one of the three EFTA States whose aid expenditure is above the EU-28 average, whereas Iceland and Liechtenstein are both well below the average.

These are the main findings of the EFTA Surveillance Authority's State Aid Scoreboard published today. The Scoreboard comprises aid expenditure made by the EFTA States before 1 January 2016.

In 2015, Norway increased its overall state aid spending by 9.6 percent. This growth was mainly due to an increase in aid for environment and energy saving purposes.

Iceland increased its overall state aid spending in 2015 by 10.5 percent. The rise in aid expenditure was mainly due to an increase in aid for research, development and innovation.

Although Liechtenstein increased its overall state aid spending in 2015, the country's aid expenditure relative to GDP remained the lowest of all of the EEA States.

 There are three main conclusions across the three EFTA States:

  • The EFTA States have increased their aid expenditure.
  • The expenditure reflects national policy objectives such as green economy and innovation, which are also common objectives in the EEA.
  • The main aid instruments used by the EFTA States remain tax and social security contribution concessions (almost 70% of all aid expenditure) as well as grants.

State aid is public support to commercial activities. It can take the form of cash grants, tax breaks and favourable loans, guarantees or investments not based on market terms.

The EEA Agreement prohibits state aid to ensure a level playing field for companies across Europe, and to prevent government funds from being used as a form of protectionism. ESA enforces the general prohibition on state aid, and is the only authority entitled to grant exemptions for the EFTA States. These exemption are available as state aid can sometimes be necessary to promote common objectives, such as green economy and innovation, to correct market failure or to ensure the provision of services of general interest. ESA's guidelines and decision-making practice facilitates this kind of aid – whilst ensuring that public funds are spent efficiently and without distorting the playing field for economic operators. As a rule, EFTA States must notify all aid measures to ESA for prior approval, unless the aid can be block exempted.

The Scoreboard, published annually, is a benchmarking tool for measuring trends in state aid expenditure by the EFTA States as well as across the EEA more generally.

The Scoreboard can be found here

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Anne Vestbakke
Head of Communications
tel. +32 2 286 18 66
mob. +32 490 57 63 53

Other EEA Institutions

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