On 8 May 2012, the European Commission adopted the State Aid Modernization Communication in which it insisted on the need to focus on the cases that have the biggest impact on competition.

In this context, the Commission decided to review the de minimis rules according to which aids below a certain threshold do not amount to State aid because they are considered to have no impact on competition.

On the basis of the data gathered during the review, the Commission concluded that there was no indication that a higher ceiling than the existing one would be justified. Therefore, like under the current de minimis regulation, States will be authorized to grant 200.000 EUR per undertaking over a period of three years.

More specifically, the Commission considers that a higher ceiling of de minimis aid could potentially affect competition and that it would conflict with the more efficient use of public resources’ objective laid down in the State Aid Modernization Communication.

The draft regulation provides for the following main changes :

  • Under the current regulation, Member States can chose between a central registry of all de minimis measures and a system of individual declaration of non-accumulation from the beneficiaries. The draft regulation imposes the creation of a central registry in order to enable the Member State to reinforce the monitoring system ;
  • It introduces a safe harbor for loans below 1 million EUR with a duration up to 5 years (under the existing regulation the gross grant equivalent has to be calculated) ;

This new Regulation is expected to be adopted by the end of 2013. Its draft is available online Member States and stakeholders are invited to respond to a public consultation before 15 of May 2013.