On 7 June 2012, the European Commission published a speech by Almunia, Vice President of the European Commission responsible for competition policy, on the modernisation of the Commission’s State aid policy. The initiative follows some of the principles and lessons learnt from the services of general economic interest (SGEI) reform but is much broader in scope. The intention is to turn State aid policy into a simpler, stronger and smarter instrument to coordinate European governments’ efforts to boost growth in a time of financial difficulty, and by launching the initiative now, it is hoped it will to help EU Member States tackle challenges. Almunia puts forward three pillars of initiative: (1) encouraging more focused and better quality aid; (2) simplifying guidelines and notices; and (3) shifting the focus of control from case-to-case to a more structured policy approach. Almunia puts forward many proposals which form part of the initiative, including streamlining State aid control; updating the Procedural Regulation; clarifying the notion of aid; simplifying analysis of cases with limited effect on trade; updating sectoral guidelines in relation to regional, broadband, aviation and cinema among others; and reviewing rescue and restructuring of non-financial firms. He stated that the modernisation initiative will only have a real impact if national authorities step up to a higher level of cooperation and compliance. The package will be gradually introduced between autumn 2012 and the end of 2013. Read more.
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State aid modernisation: speech by Joaquín Almunia on State aid
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