ANNOUNCED AS TEMPORARYNo
On 12 January 2009, Portugal notified the "Limited amounts of aid" scheme - State aid N 13/2009
The Portuguese authorities consider that the financial crisis starts affecting the real economy. The notified measure is part of a wider package of measures aimed at remedying a serious disturbance in the economy of Portugal.
The scheme is explicitly based on Article 87(3)(b) of EC Treaty, and relies on section 4.2.2 of the Commission communication "Temporary framework for State aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis."
The aid will be provided in the form of transparent forms of aid, as defined by the General Block Exemption Regulation, and in particular in the form of direct grants, reimbursable grants, interest rate subsidies and subsidized public loans with an aid element which is calculated on the basis of the Commission reference rate applicable on the date of granting the aid, and public guarantees where the aid element is calculated either on the basis of the safe harbor rules laid down in the Commission guarantee communication.
The aid amount available under this scheme is estimated by the Portuguese authorities at EUR 750 million. The scheme applies to SMEs and large firms. The Portuguese authorities estimated the number of beneficiaries at around 3,000 firms.
The Commission stated that the notified measure constitutes state aid within the meaning of Article 87(1) of the EC Treaty.
"State resources are involved in the notified scheme since the aid is granted from national, regional and local State resources, via the respective aid granting authorities. The measure is selective since it will be granted only to certain firms. The measure conveys an advantage to its beneficiaries by making available limited amounts of aid which would otherwise not be available to them. The measure affects trade between Member States since the scheme is not limited to beneficiaries which are active in sectors where no intra-community trade exists. The measure distorts or threatens to distort competition." (par. 19-23 of the letter from the EC to Portugal - Brussels, 19.1.2009 C(2009) 252 final).
Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty enables the Commission to declare aid compatible with the Common Market if it is "to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State." This aid has to be applied restrictively and must tackle a disturbance in the entire economy of the Member State according to the interpretation of the Article 87(3)(b) by the Court of First Instance.
The Commission referred to its Communication on the financial crisis (Temporary Framework) and concluded that the Measure complies with the conditions laid therein. Therefore, despite the measure constituting State aid pursuant to the Article 87(1) EC, it is compatible with the Common Market according to the Article 87(3)(b) EC Treaty. The Commission raises no objections against the measure at issue and authorizes it as emergency intervention in the face of the current financial crisis. (par. 25-28of the letter).
Prolongation of the State aid scheme N 13/2009 "Limited amounts of aid" - State aid SA.32122
On 20 December 2010 Portugal notified the prolongation of the existing aid scheme until 31 December 2011.
The aid will not raise the total amount of aid received by the undertaking during the period from 1 January 2008 to 31 December 2011 to a level above the ceiling of EUR 500 000. The aid volume available during the prolonged period has been estimated not to exceed EUR 250 million. All other elements of the existing scheme remain unchanged.
The EC considered that the notified prolongation of the existing scheme does not alter the Commission's previous assessment in the decision of 19 January 2009 and thus has accordingly decided to consider the notified prolongation of the aid scheme as compatible with Article 107(3)(b) of the TFEU. (par. 15-18 of the letter from the EC to Portugal - Brussels, 7.1.2011 C(2011) 63 final)
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.
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