Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy Joaquín Almunia said: “The new regional aid map establishes a clear framework within which Ireland can promote productive investments in disadvantaged regions between 2014 and 2020.”
Ireland's regional aid map defines the areas eligible for regional investment aid granted by Irish authorities and establishes the maximum aid levels (so-called "aid intensities") for companies in the eligible regions. The map will be in force between 1 July 2014 and 31 December 2020.
Under the new regional aid map, areas representing 51.28% of the Irish population will be eligible for regional investment aid. The regions of Midland, South-East, Border, Mid-West are included in their entirety, together with parts of the Mid-East and South-West regions.
The maximum level of aid that can be granted to regional investment projects carried out by large enterprises in the assisted areas is 10% of total investment costs. These percentages can be increased by 10 percentage points for medium-sized enterprises and by 20 percentage points for small enterprises.
The population coverage is about 1 percentage point higher than in the previous map, while the aid intensities have mostly remained the same, with the exception of the Border and Midland regions, for which there is a decrease of 5 percentage points as compared to the situation in the period 1 January 2011 until 30 June 2014 and the West region, which Ireland has not designated to benefit from regional aid.
The regional aid guidelines set out the rules under which Member States can grant state aid to companies to support investments in new production facilities in the less advantaged regions of Europe, or to extend or modernise existing facilities. The ultimate purpose of regional state aid is to support economic development and employment. The regional aid guidelines contain rules on the basis of which Member States can draw up regional aid maps valid throughout the guidelines' period of validity. The maps identify in which geographical areas companies can receive regional state aid and at what proportion of the eligible investment costs (aid intensity). Eligible costs are the part of the total investment costs that may be taken into account for the calculation of the aid.
Article 107(3)(c) TFEU allows regional state aid to facilitate the development of certain economic activities or of certain economic areas where it does not adversely affect trading conditions to an extent contrary to the common interest. The regional aid guidelines define these as areas of a Member State which are disadvantaged either in relation to the EU average, or in relation to the national average. The guidelines set a population coverage ceiling aimed at promoting investment by allowing aid in disadvantaged regions. The population coverage is distributed between Member States according to socioeconomic criteria which take into account regional disparities, including unemployment, at both EU and national levels. It is then for each Member State to decide in its regional map how to best use this room for manoeuvre to define more eligible area in order to address its internal regional disparities.
The non-confidential version of today's decision will be made available under the case number SA.38509 in the State Aid Register on the competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.
Commission adopts Guidelines on regional aid for 2014-2020