The Netherlands: Development of marginal offshore gas fields
The Dutch authorities notified to the EC the abovementioned aid measure on 22 December 2009. The notified measure consists of an investment deduction for every mining company that is or becomes a holder or joint holder of a permit under the Dutch Mining Act to extract hydrocarbons and which invests in, for such reserves previously unused, business assets. These investments are: wells, platforms and pipelines and related installations, including exploratory and evaluation drilling.
Beneficiaries are all companies, being mining companies with an extraction permit under the Dutch Mining Act. The expected number of beneficiaries is between 11 and 50.
The scheme is notified for the period 1 January 2010 to 31 December 2016.
The Dutch authorities consider that the measure gives rise to state aid, considering that it confers a selective advantage on certain businesses (mining companies with an extraction permit under the Mining Act).
The authorities have not provided a precise dedicated budget for the measure, but have explained that an additional 21 billion m3 is expected to be produced as a result of it. Overall, the state revenues are expected to increase as a result of the measure. Nonetheless, if, hypothetically, all other things being equal, this extra volume would be produced without the measure under the prevailing tax rules, the Dutch State would generate additional nominal revenue of EUR 194 million. Therefore, as a consequence of the measure this amount of EUR 194 million can be considered as a foregone resource for the Dutch State. This amount can thus be regarded as constituting the indicative budget for the purpose of the present case.
The commission found that the measure constitutes State aid within the meaning of Article 107 (1) TFEU and gave the following assessment:
“The aid under scrutiny is granted by a national authority and is granted by the State through State resources within the meaning of Article 107 TFEU. It distorts or threatens to distort competition by selectively favouring those enterprises that are eligible for the tax deduction. More particularly, the measure is considered to be selective as only certain businesses will benefit from the tax deduction, notably those mining companies that are or become a holder or joint holder of a permit under the Mining Act to extract hydrocarbons from a marginal gas field as determined by the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs. Since this can be any enterprise and, furthermore, natural gas is subject to intense trade within the European Union, the measure affects trade between Member States. The aid granted to the beneficiary under the proposed scheme thus constitutes State aid pursuant to Article 107 (1) of the TFEU.” (par. 17 of the letter from the EC to the Netherlands - Brussels, 20.7.2010 C(2010)4944 final)
The Commission has decided not to raise objections against the notified measure, since it fulfils the conditions to be considered compatible with the internal market, pursuant to Article 107(3)(c) of the TFEU.
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 2010
Duration: 84 months
GTA Evaluation: Red
the letter from the EC to the Netherlands - Brussels, 20.7.2010 C(2010)4944 final. Available from : < http://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=... >