EESC: level the State Aid playing field for EU Member State SMEs

“While global competitors enjoy illegal foreign subsidies, European firms are subject to tight state aid rules that often undermine their position in European and international markets. The United States, India, Korea or Brazil often apply less transparent rules that favour national companies when competing with their European partners”, stated Emmanuelle Butaud-Stubbs (Employers’ Group, France), rapporteur of the EESC opinion on State aid modernisation.

In a highly competitive globalised economy, the European Commission should create equal conditions for EU’s main competitors. Present proposals are, however, based on obsolete WTO data which do not give a complete picture of the current situation.

The EESC believes that the European Commission proposal for an EU state aid modernisation must be re-orientated. Firstly, it warns against the risk of giving MS greater responsibility in managing state aids. It would lead to confusion and a subjective application of the rules.

Secondly, the Commission proposal should pay special attention to SMEs, which are severely affected by competitive pressures from third country firms that benefit from state aid.

Thirdly, the ceiling for de minimis aid (which is applied to each firm on the basis of a rolling period of three consecutive years) should be permanently increased from EUR 200,000 to EUR 500,000.

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