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General block exemption Regulation: extension to ports and airports and culture and outermost regions

Overall state of play:

Legal act adopted: Commission Regulation (EU) No 2017/1084, 14.06.2017

State of play, main conclusions, outlook

This initiative aims to simplify the application of State aid rules, thus reducing administrative burden and costs and speeding up the implementation of investment projects related to ports and airports. It revises the Commission Regulation 651/2014 (General Block Exemption Regulation) by introducing exemption provisions for ports and airports in the Regulation declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty. The regulation also introduces simplifications in other areas by increasing notification thresholds for aid for culture projects and for multi-purpose sports arenas and simplifying rules for regional operating aid schemes for outermost regions.

Estimated savings and benefits

This initiative simplifies the application of State aid rules for investments into ports and airports, thus reducing administrative burden and costs and speeding up the implementation of projects which were previously not subject to such exemptions. The Commission estimates that the potential annual regulatory cost-savings that can be achieved by this initiative as up to EUR 27 million for companies and public authorities (in the best-case scenario).

In addition, it expects very substantial administrative cost savings for other investments in ports and airports (i.e. investments not at least partly financed by EU Funds or the European Investment Bank), which can however not be quantified due to limited reliable data on the number of such projects.

The Commission also minimised administrative burden for situations that pose particularly low risks of competition distortions that affect the internal market. This includes more generous rules and simplified conditions for small airports (below 200 000 passengers per year) and for small investments in seaports (below EUR 5 million of State aid) and in inland ports (below EUR 2 million of State aid).