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State Aid Map in the Energy Sector

ESI Funds managers for S3 and energy across the EU often mention that the assessment whether their public interventions constitute State aid and whether the measure is compatible with the EU competition law is a constant challenge. This report is the summary of the “Workshop on State Aid Map in Energy Sector” organised by the S3PEnergy with the REGIO Communities of Practitioners, as a practical contribution in assisting professionals from national and/or regional authorities on State aid issues in the sector of Energy.
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Abstract

The EU Member States and regions are investing in sustainable and innovative energy projects using European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) in order to meet their energy security and environmental targets. This support granted by Member States may distort competition and affect trade between Member States which may trigger the application of State aid rules. However, despite the general prohibition of State aid, environmental protection and clean energy measures are objectives of common interest that may justify the granting of State aid.

Compliance with EU State aid rules has been often mentioned as an important challenge for cohesion policy experts, being one of the main sources of irregularities and corrections in the implementation of the regional cohesion policy and can, therefore, constitute a bottleneck for S3 and energy programmes’ implementation in many regions.

This report is part of the policy support provided by the Smart Specialisation Platform on Energy (S3PEnergy) to EU regions and Member States that have selected energy as a priority within their Smart Specialisation Strategies and wish to implement support schemes in this area. In order to guide their work, the S3PEnergy, in collaboration with the Andalusian Innovation Agency (IDEA) and the Andalusian Energy Agency, and within the scope of the REGIO Communities of Practitioners, organised a TAIEX-REGIO Multicountry Workshop on State Aid Map in Energy Sector held in March 2019, in Seville, Spain.

The aim of the workshop was multifold:

  • To create a forum for a fruitful discussion on the application of State aid rules in the energy sector (e.g. energy infrastructures, renewables, smart grids, energy efficiency, sustainable buildings, etc.);
  • To address practical issues faced by national or regional responsible authorities about State aid compliance of their public interventions in energy
  • To co-construct State aid maps in energy to facilitate the application of the State aid rules by practitioners.

The report is organised in three main sections. 1) The first offers a general insight on State aid and the applicability of the State aid rules in the energy sector, and points to the existence of differences between the Cohesion Policy and Competition Policy. 2) The second section elaborates on the work done in the workshop, such as the exchange of experiences among the practitioners in the form of presentations of specific energy projects and discussions. Special attention is given to the creation of the State aid maps as the final output of the workshop. 3) Finally, the report concludes with a summary of the most common challenges in the State aid assessment of energy projects that were identified by the participants Possibilities for future cooperation among practitioners and provides suggestions for additional actions to be taken by the State aid practitioners, the REGIO Community of Practitioners (CoP) and the European Commission