The Commission has widened the scope of the General Block Exemption Regulation ("GBER"), by approving new state aid rules that exempt certain state aid measures for e.g. ports and airports from prior Commission scrutiny. According to the Commission, in 2015, about 95% of the implemented state aid measures was exempted under the GBER.

For public investments in ports the main conditions are as follows

- Public investments of up to € 150 million in sea ports and up to € 50 million in inland ports are allowed.

- The eligible costs are the costs relating to dredging and investments for port access and port infrastructures, such as infrastructure and facilities for the provision of transport related port services (examples: quay walls, floating pontoon ramps in tidal areas, internal basins, back fills and land reclamation and alternative fuel infrastructure).

- Further conditions are:

  • that the aided port infrastructures must be available to interested users on an equal and non-discriminatory basis on market terms
  • concessions and other entrustments to third parties for the construction, upgrade, operation or rent of port infrastructures must be assigned on a competitive, transparent, non-discriminatory and unconditional basis.

For public investments in airports the main conditions are:

- Public investments in regional airports handling up to 3 million passengers per year are possible.

- Operating costs of small airports handling up to 200 000 passengers per year may be covered.

- The eligible costs include the costs relating to the investments in airport infrastructure, such as infrastructure and equipment for the provision of airport services by the airport to airlines and the various service providers.

- No public investments can be made:

  • if the airport is located in the catchment area of another airport, or
  • if it is used for the relocation of existing airports or for the creation of a new passenger airport, including the conversion of an existing airfield into a passenger airport.

Other modifications of the GBER include stricter conditions for regional investment aid in relation to relocation plans by beneficiaries.The modifications of the GBER will enter into force 20 days after its publication in the Official Journal (this is to be expected in the first-half of June). Falling under the GBER presents important advantages in practice but it is in the interest of both the authorities and the beneficiary to examine carefully whether all conditions are met so that individual notification is not required.