Belgium: R&D scheme in the aeronautical sector
On 17 December 2008 the Belgian authorities contacted the European Commission regarding their intention to introduce supporting measures in R&D in the aeronautical sector for the period 1 January 2009 - 31 December 2011.
The global budget of the Scheme for the period 2009-2013 is estimated to amount 178 million euros. Belgian authorities estimate the number of beneficiaries to range from 11 to 50 per year.
Belgian authorities specify that only projects related to R&D in the sector can benefit from the aid. Projects related to the Airbus A350 XWB or the Airbus A380 constitute examples of potential beneficiaries.
Supporting measures will be provided under the form of either reimbursable subsidies (0% interest rate) or repayable advances.
The commission found that the measure constitutes State aid within the meaning of Article 87(1) of the EC Treaty and gave the following assessment:
"-The Scheme is selective since it is provided on a discretionary basis by Belgian authorities
-The Scheme operates with financial resources from the federal budget, which constitutes state aid.
-The Scheme provides an advantage to the beneficiaries relative to their competitors within the European Union by contributing to their R&D expenses.
-The Scheme targets the whole sector (i.e aeronautics). It is therefore likely to affect trade between member states." (par. 33 of the letter from the EC to Belgium - Brussels,19 May 2009 C(2009)4080 [translated from French])
The Commission however decided to consider the measure compatible with the Common Market according to the Article 87(3)(b) EC Treaty.
A state measure in the GTA database is assessed solely in terms of the extent to which its implementation affects the extent of discrimination against foreign commercial interests. On this metric, the state aid proposed here is discriminatory.
Any Evidence-Based Deliberation:
|Is there anything in the public record to suggest that evidence of the effectiveness of the proposed measure was considered during official deliberations?|
|Is there any evidence that alternatives to the proposed measure were considered?|
|Is there anything in the public record that suggests that empirical evidence informed the comparison across the alternatives available to government?|
|Was such evidence identified?|
|Is such evidence publicly available?|
|Did the official decision-maker in question provide an explanation as to why a chosen measure was favoured over alternatives?|
|Is there any evidence to suggest that potentially affected trading partners were consulted before the measures were taken?|
|Is there any evidence that safeguards have been put in place to ensure that implementation of the initiative is transparent and non-discriminatory?|
|Did the government state its intention to review the measure within one year of implementation?|
Date of inception: 1 Jan 2009
Duration: 48 months
GTA Evaluation: Red
the letter from the EC to Belgium - Brussels,19 May 2009 C(2009)4080. Available from : < http://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=... >