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State aid

State Aid Scoreboard 2018

What is the Scoreboard? - Main findings - Main tables - Concepts and methodology - Aid in the context of the financial and economic crisis

What is the Scoreboard?

The 2018 State Aid Scoreboard comprises aid expenditure made by Member States before 31.12.2017 and which falls under the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU. The data is based on 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 funding granted in line with the de minimis rules since this spending is not deemed to constitute State aid. They also exclude most of the aid to railways and services of general economic interest.

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 2016 and 2017. The analysis also confirms the benefits of the State Aid Modernisation: quicker implementation of public support by Member States, to the benefit of citizens, businesses and regions; less bureaucracy, red tape and delays. Finally, the note highlights the role of State aid control in steering public aid towards objectives of common interest (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 2018 Scoreboard - Main findings

According to the national expenditure reports presented by Member States for 2017, State aid spending increased in 2017 both in absolute amounts and relative to GDP. Member States spent EUR 116.2 billion, i.e. 0.76% of GDP, on State aid at European Union level, an increase of about 0.04p.p. of GDP compared to 2016.

Figure 1 - State Aid expenditure as % of GDP (2017), excluding aid to railways

Source: Commission Services.

In nominal terms, this represents an increase of about 9% compared to 2016 expenditure (+ EUR 9.6 billion), of which the largest variations have been identified for the following objectives: (1) An increase of State aid to environmental protection and energy of about EUR 4.4 billion; (2) An overall increase of State aid to "other" objectives including broadband, Projects of Common European Interest or local infrastructures of about EUR 1.5 billion; (3) An increase of State aid for regional development of about EUR 1.4 billion; (4) An increase of State aid for risk finance and SMEs of about EUR 1.3 billion; (5) A slight decrease of State aid to research and development including innovation of about EUR 640 million.

Figure 2 – Overall change in State Aid expenditure by objective in 2017 as compared to 2016, excluding aid to railways (in million EUR)

Source: Commission Services.

In 2017, spending was reported for 3334 active measures, of which a large majority were schemes (77%). While only about 11% of these measures (i.e. 373 cases) concerned environmental protection and energy savings, they cover, on average, much higher budgets and spending compared to other objectives. About 53% of total spending, excluding agricultural aid, was attributed to State aid to environmental and energy savings. A large share of this spending is due to the approval under EU State aid rules of renewable energy initiatives, to help Member States meet their energy security and environmental targets (20% by 2020) and achieve the Energy Union strategy on the transition to a low-carbon, secure and competitive economy.

Apart from State aid for environmental purposes and energy savings, Member States spent about EUR 54.8 billion, i.e. 0.36% of GDP, on State aid for other objectives. After the decrease registered in 2016 as compared to 2015, this represents an increase of about 10.6% compared to 2016 expenditure (+ EUR 5.2 billion), in nominal terms.

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

Source: Commission Services.

The 2018 Scoreboard confirms the benefits of State Aid Modernisation.

On 8 May 2012, the Commission set out an ambitious State aid reform programme in the Communication on State aid modernisation (SAM). Its objective was to enable Member States to implement State aid that fosters investment, economic growth and job creation more quickly, while leaving the Commission to focus its State aid control on cases most liable to distort competition. SAM therefore represented a change in governance of EU State aid policy for the purpose of better allocation of public resources, higher efficiency and better quality of policy interventions. Among the key objectives of the reform were tangible cuts in red tape, the promotion of a better use of limited public resources by Member States and a higher contribution of aid measures to growth.

Since 2015, more than 96% of new measures for which expenditure has been reported for the first time fell under the General Block Exemption Regulation, i.e. an increase of about 28p.p. compared to 2013. Looking at all measures for which expenditure has been reported (and not only new measures), about 82% of all measures were block exempted in 2017, an increase of respectively about 6p.p. and 22p.p. compared to 2015 and 2013. In terms of spending, total expenditure on GBER measures in the EU represented about EUR 41.7 billion in 2017, i.e. about 38% of total expenditure. However, when considering a simple average of Member States' practice, it appears that, in 2017, Member States spent on average about 48 % of their total spending on GBER measures, an increase of about 14p.p. compared to 2013.

Figure 4 - GBER uptake

Source: Commission Services.

Compared to 2016, total GBER spending in 2017 increased for all possible objectives. In particular, GBER spending strongly increased for broadband and local and multi recreational infrastructures (+129%), for aid to SMEs and risk finance (+81%), for social support to individual consumers (+ 56%), for research, development and innovation (+30%), for aid to culture and heritage conservation (+28%) and for employment (+21%).

The high share of spending under GBER for the above objectives also demonstrates that aid could be disbursed more quickly. In particular:

  • more than 80% of spending for training, R&D&I and regional development was disbursed under GBER;
  • more than 50% of all aid to culture, SMEs (such as aid in the form of risk capital, aid to start-ups and innovative SMEs) and employment.

As compared to 2014, the share increased substantially for culture (+51p.p.), R&D&I (+45p.p.), SMEs (+27p.p.) and regional development (+15p.p.). This increase results partly from the efforts made by the Commission to cooperate with a number of Member States with a view to adjusting certain envisaged measures to bring them in line with the GBER.

The observed GBER uptake also complements 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 in 2014, 2016 and 2017

Source: Commission Services.

While the time needed by the Commission 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 2017, about 230 cases were notified to the Commission. The average annual budget of notified measures implemented was about EUR 230 million, an increase of about 18% and 126% compared to 2015 and 2013 respectively. At the same time, average reported spending increased even more steadily to reach about EUR 85 million per notified measure in 2017, an increase of about 41% and 278% compared to 2015 and 2013 respectively. Also, at EU level, the consistency between planned amounts (aid budgets) and the actual spending reported has continued to improve progressively, from about 15% in 2013 to 31% in 2017.

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 2017, about 94% of total State aid spending was allocated to horizontal objectives of common interest, an increase of about 2p.p. and 11p.p. respectively, compared to 2015 and 2010. On the contrary, State aid spending for rescuing and restructuring companies in difficulty decreased significantly over the last 5 years, by about 15% annually, highlighting the fact that if aid to companies in difficulty is still permitted, stricter conditions apply to ensure that the most appropriate and transparent restructuring will restore and sustain the company's long-term viability.

The 2018 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 2018 Scoreboard – Concepts and methodology

For details on methodology, please refer to the methodological remarks

The 2018 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 of the Commission, whilst ensuring that State aid and distortions of competition between banks and across Member States are kept to the minimum.

The 2018 Scoreboard presents State aid (approved and used) to financial institutions in the period 2008-2017, by aid instrument. The data include both the maximum amounts of aid that Member States were allowed to grant (State aid approved) and the amounts of aid actually disbursed (State aid used). In general, the amount of approved State aid to the financial sector stabilised and the amount of State aid used further decreased compared to previous years.

Figure 6 - Total amounts of state aid to banks approved and used in the EU over the period 2008-2017 (in billion EUR)

Disclaimer: The information contained in the tables is provided on a best effort basis and might be subject to future revisions depending on information provided by Member States.

Source: Commission Services.

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 impact 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

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