Regional state aid: large companies must be eligible too

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The European Commission should cut red tape and increase efficiency in the field of regional aid. This is the gist of a Report on regional state aid adopted by the Committee on Regional Development of the European Parliament. The Committee is calling on the Commission to continue its state aid modernisation process (SAM). At the centre of attention were the so-called regional aid guidelines, a set of rules determining the degree of aid that Member States can grant to enterprises in their respective regions. The European Commission has announced a revision of these guidelines, set for publication in June.

In their Report, MEPs are asking the Commission to further simplify the rules and to bring the framework better in line with the provisions of the EU’s cohesion policy. "Large companies must continue to be eligible for regional state aid. They tend to form clusters and attract a lot of by-investment from smaller companies on the ground", said Manfred Weber MEP, EPP Group Spokesman on the dossier.

“In its latest proposal, the European Commission has abandoned the idea of supporting large enterprises in areas with a medium level of state aid. However, large enterprises remain crucial in attracting SMEs. The Committee has therefore called upon the Commission to allow Member States to support large undertakings in all assisted areas. Strengthening large companies and supporting SMEs goes hand in hand”, said Manfred Weber.

Another crucial issue is the question of differences in the level of state aid: “Although we accept that regions that are less developed than others should benefit from a higher level of support, we also feel that the differences between regions should not be as high as to give rise to the relocation of production sites. Regional aid should provide incentives to invest and expand, not to relocate jobs within the Single Market”, the EPP Group MEP concluded.

Note to editors

The EPP Group is by far the largest political group in the European Parliament with 269 Members and 3 Croatian Observer Members.

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