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State aid

Background

In 2013, the European Commission continued with its modernisation of state aid rules. In July 2013, the Commission published for consultation the draft for new Risk Capital Guidelines. The latter draft Guidelines shift from a specific risk capital focus to a more general risk finance approach, including debt instruments. One of the most notable changes is that the notification threshold has been raised to €10 million per eligible SME, with no time limit.

In November 2013, the application of the GBER was prolonged by six months until June 2014. In mid-December 2013, a revised draft GBER was published for consultation, including new categories of exempted aid and further simplifying the assessment procedure, thus reducing the administrative burden for Member States. The Commission has notably increased the notification threshold per eligible SME to € 15 million, with no time limit.

In January 2014, the Commission adopted the Risk Finance Guidelines, which set out compatibility criteria for aid above the € 15 million threshold.

Invest Europe position

It is important to ensure that any revision of the state aid rules do not threaten the viability of companies, mainly SMEs to obtain public assistance through state aid mechanisms alongside financing from venture capital. Further to Invest Europe’s request, the Risk Finance Guidelines contain an exemption from certain reporting requirements with respect to SMEs receiving state aid before their first commercial sale, in order to protect sensitive business information.

Invest Europe also responded to the draft GBER in February 2014 expressing support for the wider categories of aid which are exempt from notification requirements. Invest Europe has concerns concerning the lack of a time period for reaching the notification threshold amount and also calls for a wider exemption for scouting costs and more flexible rules for follow-on investments.

Publications