On 8 October 2008, the European Commission approved under the EC Treaty State aid rules EUR 67.6 million in State aid granted by France for research and development. Air Liquide, along with its subsidiary Axane and 17 other public and private partners, will receive the funding from the French Industrial Innovation Agency to promote and develop the “H2E” programme. The aim of the programme is to develop an integrated hydrogen energy market.

The Commission concluded that the proposed State aid was proportionate and would provide environmental and technological benefits without distorting competition. The decision demonstrates the Commission’s willingness to allow State aid for research and development where companies would otherwise be reluctant to invest due to the high risks associated with an undeveloped market. H2E complements other hydrogen fuel research programmes in the European Union.