Competition is a main driver of growth. It plays a fundamental role in defending and strengthening the internal market. The maintenance of a system of free and undistorted competition is one of the basic principles of the EU.
The EU's policy in respect of State aids seeks to ensure
- free competition,
- an efficient allocation of resources and
- a well-functioning internal market,
whilst respecting the international commitments of the EU.
The EU's State aid rules are enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Article 107 of the TFEU defines what constitutes State aid and spells out that State aid in principles is prohibited. It further lays down those grounds on which aid may be considered to be compatible with the internal market. Article 108 of the TFEU sets out the main procedural principles governing the action to ensure Member States' compliance with the substantive State aid rules.
State aid rules in the agricultural sector are based on three different principles:
- They follow the general principles of competition policy
- They have to be coherent and consistent with the EU’s common agricultural and rural development policies
- The rules take into account the EU’s international commitments
The current Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation (ABER) and Community Guidelines for State aid in the agriculture and forestry sector (GL) apply as from 1 July 2014 until 31 December 2020. The Commission has launched a review of these instruments for the period 2021 to 2027. The agricultural de minimis Regulation, applicable since 1 January 2014, was amended in February 2019. There is also available a consolidated version of the text.
Search for a State aid case
All State aid cases that have been the object of a Commission decision since 1 January 2000 are available in the Commission's competition case database, including information on block exemption cases registered by the Commission. It does not include information on on-going cases for which no decision has yet been taken.
The treatment at Commission level of the specific cases related to State aids in the agricultural sector is under the responsibility of the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development.