Clarification of state aid rules
On Thursday, 12 January 2017 the North Sea Region Programme received official word from the European Commission that programme funding cannot currently be used for the direct support of primary agricultural production, fisheries, or aquaculture. Thus, project beneficiaries in these fields whose activities might be seen as distorting or threatening to distort competition in the internal market may not apply under either de minimis or GBER Article 20, which are currently the only State aid schemes under which the North Sea Region Programme grants aid.
While it has always been the case that no organisations in these fields could apply under the de minimis scheme, there was some question about whether Article 1(3)(a) and (b) of Commission Regulation 651/2014 (GBER) allowed exceptions for SMEs (involved in primary agricultural production or in the fisheries or aquaculture industries) participating under Article 20 whose activities in ETC projects included research and development, innovation and training, etc. We have been told that this is not the case.
Please contact the secretariat if you have any further questions regarding State aid. Updated fact sheets on State aid (16 and 17) with further details will be uploaded to the website.