The Commission is inviting to comment (by 7 July) on the Regional State Aid Framework, which applies also to regional investment aid to broadband networks. The objective of the consultation is to gather stakeholders’ and Member States’ opinions on the application of the Guidelines on regional State aid for 2014-2020, and whether they are still fit for purpose.

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In January 2019, the European Commission launched a comprehensive policy evaluation in the area of State aid (“Fitness Check”). As part of this exercise, the Commission is consulting on the De minimis Regulation and on the Guidelines on Regional State aid, which also apply to regional investment aid to broadband networks. Notably, paragraph 12 of the Guidelines on regional State aid for 2014-2020 states that:

Regional investment aid to broadband networks may be considered compatible with the internal market if, in addition to the general conditions laid down in these guidelines, it complies also with the following specific conditions:

  • aid is granted only to areas where there is no network of the same category (either basic broadband or NGA) and where none is likely to be developed in the near future;
  • (the subsidised network operator offers active and passive wholesale access under fair and non-discriminatory conditions with the possibility of effective and full unbundling;
  • aid should be allocated on the basis of a competitive selection process in accordance with paragraph 78(c) and (d) of the Broadband guidelines

The results of the consultation will help shaping the future Regional Aid Guidelines. The feedback of broadband-stakeholders on their experience in connection with the Regional Aid Guidelines is very important. The Commission is highly interested to learn, whether the Guidelines were useful when planning broadband deployment and whether any elements, the general conditions or the specific rules for broadband projects, may have limited their use in the context of broadband deployment.

 The online survey consists of 8 online questions and the possibility to provide any additional comments, observations, information, or suggestions you deem relevant. The consultation closes on 7 July. Further details about the consultation are available online.