Germany: Rescue Aid to Solon SE
On 30 September 2011, Germany notified rescue aid to Solon SE. The beneficiary is active in manufacturing of solar panels and integrated photovoltaic systems as well as the planning and construction of power plants. The company is located in Germany in the region of Berlin.
The first measure consists of the agreement of the state guarantors to reschedule reimbursements under two state guaranteed credit lines. In fact, the state guarantors agreed twice on such rescheduling, on 8 August 2011 and on 3 November 2011.
On 16 March 2010, the Bund, together with the German Länder Berlin and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, granted a guarantee to Solon, covering 80% of two credit lines amounting to overall EUR 146 million. The credit lines were granted by a consortium of private banks under the lead of Deutsche Bank AG, UniCredit Bank AG and Commerzbank AG ("the banks"). The state guarantee was granted under the German scheme for small aid amounts1 with a guarantee fee of 1.14% p.a. The guarantee will expire on 31 December 2011; so will the guaranteed credit lines.
Overall, the state guarantors agreed to reschedule reimbursements of EUR 52.3 million (EUR 11 million, EUR 32.5 million and EUR 8.8 million). The original guarantee covers 80% of the credit lines and accordingly, also 80% of the rescheduled payments will be covered by the new measure, i.e. EUR 41.84 million.
The second measure consists of a temporary setting free of a cash deposit that secured the state guaranteed credit lines. On 8 August 2011, the state guarantors agreed to set free a cash deposit of EUR 5 million in order to provide Solon with additional liquidity. The setting free of securities is temporary, as Solon shall refill the cash deposit with part of the proceeds from the sales of projects in Italy until the end of the year 2011. Until the reimbursement of the cash deposit, an interest rate of 3.05 % p.a. will be charged.
If Solon defaults and the state guarantee for the credit lines is called by the banks, the banks will take into account EUR 2.5 million of fictitious proceeds from collaterals.
The commission found that the measure constitutes State aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU and gave the following assessment:
"The measure is granted by the Bund, the Land Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and the Land Berlin together. Therefore, the measure stems from state resources and is imputable to the State. [...] The measure will be granted to one specific undertaking and will allow the beneficiary to keep access to liquidity that it would otherwise not have had. Therefore, it is concluded that the measure provides a selective advantage to Solon.
The Commission has analysed whether the measure distorts or threatens to distort competition and has an affect on trade. When aid granted by a Member State strengthens the position of an undertaking compared to other undertakings competing in intra-Union trade, the latter must be regarded as affected by that aid. Indeed, there is trade between Member States in the market for solar panels and integrated photovoltaic systems as well as the planning and construction of power plants. The measure is apt to improve the competitive position of the beneficiary in relation to its competitors in the internal market. It consequently distorts or threatens to distort competition and affects trade between the Member States." (par. 16 to 21 of the letter from the EC to Germany - Brussels, 20.12.2011 C (2011) 9408 final )
In view of the above, the Commission concludes that the rescue aid to Solon consisting of a guarantee of EUR 41.84 million and a loan of EUR 5 million is compatible with the internal market under Article 107(3)(c) TFEU pursuant to the Guidelines.
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: 8 Aug 2011
Duration: 17 months
GTA Evaluation: Red
the letter from the EC to Germany - Brussels, 20.12.2011 C (2011) 9408 final. Available from : < http://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=... >