State aid: Commission consults on draft Communication on State aid to promote Important Projects of Common European Interest

The European Commission is consulting the public on a draft communication on how Member States can support the execution of Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs). The draft communication is part of the State Aid Modernisation (SAM) agenda (see IP/12/458), which aims to modernise state aid control in order to foster smart, sustainable and inclusive growth. The draft communication provides guidance to Member States on how they can support, in line with EU state aid rules, transnational projects which are of strategic dimension for the EU and for the realisation of the objectives of Europe 2020, the EU's growth strategy.

IPCEIs, given their positive effects on the Single Market and European society at large, may make an important contribution to boosting economic growth, job creation and competitiveness. They make it possible to bring together knowledge, expertise, financial resources and economic players throughout Europe, so as to overcome very important market or systemic failures and address societal challenges. They should bring together the public and private sectors to undertake large-scale, highly innovative projects that could bring important benefits to the Union and its citizens. IPCEIs may range from cross-border transport projects to energy infrastructure projects, to research infrastructure or pan-European investments linked to the development of key enabling technologies.

Building on a specific provision of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (Article 107(3)(b)), this horizontal communication will significantly enlarge the scope of application of the current state aid rules, as well as provide clarity for projects in fields where there is no guidance today, allowing for an easier assessment of large transnational projects by the Commission.

The draft communication introduces more flexibility with respect to the form of public support by Member States (repayable advance, loans, guarantees, grants), as well as the possibility to cover up to 100% of the funding gap on the basis of a large set of eligible costs. In order to reduce red tape and to facilitate the assessment of the financing of IPCEIs by the Member States, the draft communication introduces the possibility to submit a joint notification to the Commission by the participating Member States.

The communication will update, consolidate and replace the rules on IPCEIs in the R&D and Innovation Framework and the Environmental Guidelines.

Comments can be submitted until 28 February 2014.

The text of the draft communication on IPCEIs is available at:


In 2006, the Commission adopted the current R&D and Innovation Framework (see IP/06/1600 andMEMO/06/441) and in 2008, the Environmental Guidelines (see IP/08/80 and MEMO/08/31). The current R&D and Innovation Framework was prolonged until 30 June 2014 and the Environmental Guidelines are due to expire on 31 December 2014.

In the context of its state aid modernisation initiative (SAM) (see IP/12/458), amongst others, the European Commission has launched a review of these two guidelines. The review started with the public consultations seeking stakeholders' views on the functioning of these guidelines and in particular on market developments since their adoption. Building on the views of Member States and other stakeholders, as the latest step in the review process, the draft new R&D and Innovation Framework and Energy and Environmental Guidelines were published for public consultation in December 2013. Those draft texts contained provisions on the assessment of Member State financing of IPCEIs. This communication will therefore update, consolidate and replace the relevant rules on IPCEIs in the draft R&D and Innovation Framework and the Energy and Environmental Guidelines.

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