The Commission concludes today the initiative for State Aid Modernisation, launched in 2012, by publishing a guidance on the notion of State Aid, in order to provide legal certainty for public authorities and companies dealing with this discipline.

The notice clearly defines the cases in which public investments do not fall within the scope of EU State Aid control, because they do not distort competition in the exchanges among Member States within the Single Market and do not crowd out private investments.

The simplification of State Aid will help to maximise the effect of investments on economic growth and jobs which, in line with Juncker Plan, should amount to at least 315 billion of Euros over the next three years.

The notice summarises the case law of the EU courts and the Commission's decision-making practice. It includes also key clarifications on the following:

1. Public investment for the construction or upgrade of infrastructures is free of State Aid, if it does not directly compete with other infrastructures of the same kind. In particular, this is the case for roads, inland waterways and waste water networks. In contrast, infrastructure in fields such as energy, broadband, airports and ports is often in competition with similar infrastructures, so if one project is financed with public money, it could have an economic advantage over its rivals counting only on private funds. This financing is therefore subject to prior Commission scrutiny.

2. Even if infrastructure is built with the help of State Aid, there is no aid to its operators and users if they pay a market price (as a result of a competitive, transparent, non-discriminatory and unconditional tender).

3. EU State Aid Control focuses on public investments that have a cross-border effect. Funding provided to local infrastructures or services, which for their nature and dimensions are unlikely to attract customers from other Member States, does not fall under EU State Aid.

4. If public authorities buy goods or services through tenders, which respect EU rules on public procurement, this is in general sufficient to ensure that the transaction is free of State Aid.

The text of the Notice is available at the following link.

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