After extensive consultations with stakeholders, the EC has adopted new Regional Aid Guidelines (RAG). The new RAG, which will enter into force on 1 July 2014, cover the period 2014–2020. They allow EU Member States to grant regional aid in an increased number of geographic areas in the EU. The new RAG will apply to all sectors, save for fisheries/aquaculture, agriculture, transport (including aid to airports) and energy, which are or will be dealt with in sector-specific notices.
Under the new RAG, more aid categories will be exempted from the obligation of prior notification to and approval by the EC, thereby cutting the red tape requirements before Member States are able to grant small aid amounts for regional development. However, large aid measures will continue to be subject to in-depth assessment by the EC.
A stricter approach will also be taken for aid to large companies in the more developed assisted areas. However, if it is shown that the aid allows investments for new economic activity or initial investments intended to diversify the activities of a business into new products or process innovation, the aid will be authorized.
In order to gain a full picture of the geographic areas in which companies might be able to obtain additional aid, it is necessary to wait until the new regional aid maps for each Member State are approved by the EC. However, it is already clear that the reduced formalities under the new RAG will make it easier to obtain aid under certain circumstances. Once the new regional aid maps do become available, investors from both EU and non-EU countries can look in detail at funding possibilities in relevant EU regions for projects implemented in 2014–2020.