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State aid

State Aid Scoreboard 2017

What is the Scoreboard? - Main summary - Main tables - Concepts and methodology - Crisis aid

What is the Scoreboard?

The 2017 State Aid Scoreboard comprises aid expenditure made by Member States before 31.12.2016 and which falls under the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU. The data is based on the annual reporting by Member States pursuant to Article 6(1) of Commission Regulation (EC) 794/2004. Expenditure refers to all active aid measures to industries, services, agriculture and fisheries, for which the Commission adopted a formal decision or received an information sheet from the Member States in relation to measures qualifying for exemption under the General Block Exemption Regulation. In practice, the figures below do not include most of the aid to railways and services of general economic interest that are dealt with separately due to different specific reporting obligations.

For detailed information, a comprehensive note provides an overview of the reported expenditure aggregates and summarises the main findings, notably the most relevant observed changes between 2015 and 2016. In addition, the note demonstrates the benefits and the effects of State Aid Modernisation and the role of State aid in steering public aid towards objectives of common interest that otherwise would not be realised (e.g. R&D&I and investment in renewable energy), while ensuring benefits for society and minimising the negative impact of State aid on competition.

The 2017 Scoreboard - Main summary

According to the national expenditure reports for 2016, State aid spending increased in 2016 both in absolute amounts and relative to GDP. Member States spent EUR 102.8 billion, i.e. 0.69% of GDP, on State aid at European Union level, an increase of about 0.01p.p. of GDP compared to 2015.

Figure 1 - State Aid expenditure as % of GDP (2016), less railways

Source: Commission Services.

In nominal terms, total State aid spending in 2016 increased by about 2.6% compared to 2015 expenditures (+ EUR 2.6 billion). This overall change can largely be explained by the following factors: (1) an increase of State aid to environmental protection including energy savings of about 9.3 billion EUR; (2) a decrease of State aid for regional development of about 4 billion EUR; (3) a decrease of State aid for social support to individual consumers of about 1.6 billion EUR; (4) an overall increase of State aid to other objectives including broadband, projects of Common European Interest or local infrastructures of about 1.2 billion EUR; (5) a decrease in aid to the agricultural and forestry sectors of about 1.1 billion EUR; (6) an increase of State aid for SMEs of about 1.1 billion EUR; (7) an increase of State aid on research and development including innovation of about 0.5 billion EUR.

Figure 2 - Overall change in State Aid expenditure by objective in 2016 as compared to 2015, excluding aid to railways (in million EUR)

Footnote: The decrease observed of State aid for regional development is mostly due to (i) a reclassification of the guarantees paid by the Greek Government for loans granted to public sector firms and organisations as Services of General Economic Interest and (ii) the absence of reporting in 2016 for the measure concerning specific tax exemptions for employer contributions in outermost regions (SA.41040).

Source: Commission Services.

In 2016, spending was reported for 3014 active measures of which a large majority concerned aid schemes (76%). While only about 13% of all active measures (i.e. 315 cases) concerned environmental protection and energy savings, these 'green' measures cover, on average, much higher budgets and spending as compared to other objectives: about 54% of total spending was attributed to State aid to environmental and energy savings. A large share of current State aid spending for environmental and energy savings exists due to the approval under EU State aid rules of numerous renewable energy initiatives in many Member States to help them meet their energy security and environmental goals (e.g. 20% of renewables by 2020 and 27% by 2030) and to achieve the Energy Union strategy on the transition to a low-carbon, secure and competitive economy. In that context, the State aid rules ensure that the transition will be socially-fair and consumer-centred. Therefore, while in nominal terms, total State aid spending including 'green' aid increased by about 2.6% compared to 2015 expenditures (+ EUR 2.6 billion), without State aid to environmental and energy savings, State aid spending decreased by about 12.6% compared to 2015 expenditure (- EUR 6.8 billion).

Figure 3 - Total State Aid expenditure, excluding aid to railways as % of GDP

Source: Commission Services.

A major reform package called State Aid Modernisation (SAM) was introduced in July 2014 allowing Member States to quickly implement State aid that fosters investment, economic growth and job creation, leaving the Commission to focus its State aid control on cases most liable to distort competition. SAM is a change in governance of EU State aid policy that allows better allocation of public resources and promotes higher efficiency and better quality of policy interventions. Among the key objectives of the reform are tangible cuts in red tape, the promotion of a better use of limited public resources by Member States and of a higher contribution of aid measures to growth.

The 2017 Scoreboard shows the benefits of State Aid Modernisation.

More than 97% of newly implemented measures for which expenditure has been reported fell under the General Block Exemption Regulation in 2016, i.e. an increase of about 25p.p. compared to 2013. Looking at all measures for which expenditure has been reported (and not only new measures), about 80% of all measures were block exempted in 2016, an increase of respectively about 4% and 20%, compared to 2015 and 2013. In terms of spending, total expenditure on GBER measures in the EU represented about 31 billion EUR in 2016, i.e. about 32% of total expenditure. However, when considering a simple average of country specific shares of spending under GBER, to reflect equally differences in Member States practice, it appears that in 2016 Member States spent on average about 46 % of the total spending on GBER measures, an increase of about 11p.p. compared to 2013.

Figure 4 - GBER uptake

Source: Commission Services.

Total GBER spending in 2016 increased for broadband and local and multi recreational infrastructures (+99%), for aid to culture and heritage conservation (+57%), for aid to SMEs and risk finance (+39%), for environmental protection and energy savings (+23%), for research development and innovation (+6%) and for social support to individual consumers (+5%).

Looking at the share of spending under GBER, this demonstrates that a large share of aid could be disbursed more quickly. In particular:

  • more than 70% of spending for training and regional development was achieved under GBER
  • more than 40% of spending for employment, culture, R&D&I and SMEs (such as aid in the form of risk capital, aid to start-ups and innovative SMEs) fell under the GBER.

As compared to 2014, the share more than doubled for culture, increased substantially for SMEs (+about 18p.p.), for regional development (+14p.p.), for training (+13 p.p.) and more generally increased for any objective.

These developments demonstrate that the current State aid rules facilitate well-designed aid targeted at common interest objectives and therefore support and complement EU policy initiatives such as i.a. the Europe 2020 Strategy; the Programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and SMEs (COSME); ensuring sufficient flexibility and high amounts of R&D&I aid in a context of strong global competition; or supporting easier deployment of broadband in line with the EU Digital Agenda that sets ambitious goals for broadband infrastructure development to support growth in Europe.

Figure 5 - Share of spending under GBER by main policy objective, 2014-2016

Source: Commission Services.

At the same time, even if the time needed to assess notified measures has remained stable, notified measures that might seriously harm competition or fragment the Single Market are subject to more careful scrutiny and tend to cover bigger budgets and spending than in the past, in line with the Commission's approach to be 'big on big and small on small'. In particular, in 2016, the average annual budget of notified measures implemented was about 222 million EUR, an increase of about 18% and 124% compared to 2015 and 2013 respectively.

Additionally, the new approach allows better allocation of resources and promotes higher efficiency and better quality of policy intervention. In particular, it allows Member States and the Commission to promote "good aid". In 2016, more than 94% of total State aid spending was allocated to horizontal objectives of common interest ("good aid"), an increase of about 2p.p. and 12p.p. respectively, compared to 2015 and 2010.

The 2017 Scoreboard – Main tables

Overview tables
Country fiches
Belgium Bulgaria Czech Republic
Denmark Germany Estonia
Ireland Greece Spain
France Croatia Italy
Cyprus Latvia Lithuania
Luxembourg Hungary Malta
Netherlands Austria Poland
Portugal Romania Slovenia
Slovak Republic Finland Sweden
United Kingdom European Union  

The 2017 Scoreboard – Concepts and methodology

For details on methodology, please refer to the methodological note.

The 2017 Scoreboard - Aid in the context of the financial and economic crisis

From 2007 onwards, the European Union faced the most serious financial crisis since its creation. The Commission played a very active role in dealing with the financial crisis and swiftly adapted the State aid framework to allow Member States to put in place an effective response. The restoration of financial stability has been the overarching objective for the Commission, whilst ensuring that State aid and distortions of competition between banks and across Member States are kept to the minimum.

The 2017 Scoreboard shows State aid to financial institutions in the years 2008-2016, by aid instrument. The data include both the maximum amounts of aid that EU Member States were allowed to grant (State aid approved) and the amounts of aid actually implemented (State aid used). Data shows that the level of State aid to the financial sector, both approved and used, in 2016 was the lowest since the beginning of the crisis. No recapitalisation aid was used for any bank for the first time since the beginning of the financial crisis. Also, data shows that the European banking sector is relying less and less on government guarantees for liquidity support, as it is able to find the necessary liquidity on the market.

Figure 1 - Total amounts of state aid to banks approved and used in the EU over the period 2008-2016 (in billion EUR)

In addition, Eurostat data on fiscal revenue and expenditure, resulting from the support for financial institutions during the crisis provide a complete picture of the actual and potential impacts on government deficit and debt due to government interventions directly relating to the support for financial institutions. This highlights the fact that a large share of the aid granted in the context of the financial and economic crisis has already been repaid to the public authorities in the form of dividends, guarantee fees and interest*.

For details on methodology, including conceptual differences with the Eurostat data, please refer to methodological remarks.

* In this context, revenue from dividends can be compared to State aid provided in the form of capital-like instruments (recapitalisations and impaired assets measures). Similarly, guarantee fees and the amount of guarantees called can be compared to the stock of guarantees, whilst interest received can be compared to the stock of other liquidity measures.

Overview tables

Related links
Scoreboard archive >
Non-crisis aid Horizontal aid Sectoral aid Crisis-related aid