State aid in the management of the ESIF

Country specific seminars

The seminars are organized either in the Member States which do not fulfil the ex-ante conditionality related to State aid or in those Member States where a special need for enhanced support in the field of State aid was identified.

OBJECTIVES OF THE SEMINAR

  • To reinforce awareness of the basic principles of the EU State aid policy in relation to the ESI Funds;
  • To present changes following the modernization of State aid policy, particularly related to the de minimis rule and the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER);
  • To discuss application of State aid in specific areas (sectors);
  • To bring together national actors responsible for State aid and ESIF, to enhance their cooperation and networking ;
  • To exchange information on existing practices in the Member State, lessons learnt, achievements, areas of improvement and future initiatives;
  • To offer Q&A sessions with the Commission and national experts.

STRUCTURE AND MAIN TOPICS

The opening session will present the reasons and objectives of the initiative of the European Commission aiming at reducing potential irregularities and error rates linked to the application of State aid rules in the Member States during the 2014-2020 programming period.

This introductory part of the seminar will focus on explaining the rationale, notion and principles of EU State aid policy. Special focus will be given to application of State aid procedures in the context of programmes and projects co-financed by the ESI Funds.

The State Aid Modernisation package entered into force on 1 July 2014. This session will concentrate on the main objectives of the modernised State aid rules. Concretely, it will tackle the application of the de minimis rule and the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). As regards the GBER, the session will clarify what its main elements are – such as the incentive effect, how to calculate the gross grant equivalent, what are the main aid categories. It will also highlight the new role of Member States.

Member States have put in place various effective tools to build administrative capacity in the area of application of State aid rules linked to the management of the ESIF. Each Member State opted for different institutional arrangements on how to effectively disseminate knowledge across different bodies involved in ESIF management. The session will propose a number of good practices and lessons to share.

The purpose of this session is to share main audit findings on State aid in all Member States in order to raise attention to certain topics.

A number of thematic workshops for smaller groups will be organized in parallel with the aim to provide more detailed information concerning the application of State aid rules. Workshops will, for example, present the key principles of relevant provisions regarding regional aid under the General Block Exemption Regulation, the Regional Aid Guidelines or clarify the difference between investment aid and operating aid. Other workshops will be dedicated to sectors which are very likely to contain State aid elements. They will explain the methods for assessment of compatibility, for example, in the area of transport infrastructure, environment, energy, RDI or SMEs. This will be followed by discussions with participants.

During this session a representative from the national contact point will explain their role and inform about the possibility to get assistance on State aid. A participant from the European Commission – DG Competition will give details how the national contact points can raise questions and obtain advice at EU level. The European Commission will also introduce the opportunities for exchanging expertise via TAIEX-REGIO PEER 2 PEER.

The closing session is dedicated to wrapping up the four workshops. The participants will get acquainted with main messages and issues that were raised during the whole day. Special attention will be paid to the issues regarding State aid which national authorities will need to address in the nearest future.

TARGET GROUPS

  • Representatives of bodies involved in the management, implementation and control of the ESI Funds – Managing Authorities, Intermediate Bodies, Audit Authorities.
  • Main beneficiaries of the ESI Funds.
  • Representatives of the State aid competent authorities.
  • Other stakeholders involved in the management, implementation and control of the ESI Funds.