State aid: Commission gives guidance on local public support measures that do not constitute state aid

The European Commission has found that five public measures for purely local operations in Spain, Germany and Portugal involve no state aid because they are unlikely to affect trade between Member States. For these kinds of measures, Member States always have full autonomy to decide and invest state funds. Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: “In many cases Member States can stimulate investment without asking the Commission. These decisions confirm that many local public support measures do not constitute state aid. This reflects the Juncker Commission’s approach to be ‘big on big things and small on small things’. It also complements the modernisation of State Aid as a result of which 90% of all State aid measures can be decided by Member States themselves – they no longer have to go to the Commission for approval.” The five decisions announced today clarify what public support measures Member State authorities can implement without prior scrutiny by the Commission because they do not affect trade between Member States. They complement a set of decisions taken in 2015 that already gave guidance on what types of public support does not constitute State aid. This reduces the administrative burden for EU Member States, speeds up the delivery of investments, and increases legal certainty for public authorities and companies. The decisions are part of the Commission’s effort to focus State aid control on bigger cases that genuinely impact competition in the Single Market, to the greatest benefit of consumers. They complement several initiatives the Commission has taken over the past two years, including the Notion of Aid Notice adopted in May 2016 and the General Block Exemption Regulation adopted in May 2014.