ANNOUNCEMENT 06 Mar 2009In March 2009, the government of Spain announced a change to private-sector financial support.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
the letter from the European Commission to Spain - Brussels, 30.3.2009 C(2009) 2355 final. Available from < http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/cases/230182/230182_957942_21_1.pdf >
On 6 March 2009, Spain notified the above mentioned aid measure.
Spain considers that the financial crisis is affecting its whole economy at local regional and country level. Among others, the automotive sector, in Spain as well as in the other Member States, has been particularly and significantly hit by the financial downturn.
Spain, according to the data provided by the Spanish authorities, the automotive sector (including car manufacturers and car components manufactures) accounts for around 10% of the overall industrial production and for around 20% of the totality of products exported. It employs directly more than 300 000 people and indirectly a large number of retailers and providers of aftermarket services.
The scheme is explicitly based on Article 87(3)(b) EC Treaty, and relies on the Commission communication 'Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support access to finance in the current financial and economic crisis' ('the Temporary Framework'), in particular on its Section 4.5 concerning aid for the production of green products.
The scheme applies to companies of all sizes: both SMEs and large firms. Its geographic scope covers the whole territory of Spain. The aid will be granted in the form of interest rate subsidy for investment loans for production of green products.
The subsidized interest rates relate to investment loans for financing projects which consist of the production of green cars and car components which contribute to the realization of green cars and thereby significantly improve environmental protection. The subsidized interest rate applies during a maximum period of 2 years following granting of loan. The overall budget to finance the measures contained therein is Euro 690 million.
The Commission stated that the notified measure constitutes state aid within the meaning of Article 87 (1) of the EC Treaty and gave the following assessment:
"State resources are involved in the notified scheme since the aid is granted from State resources, via the respective aid granting authorities at national level. The measure is selective since it will be granted only to certain firms. The measure conveys an advantage to beneficiaries by granting them investment loans with subsidised interest rates which would not be probably available on the market in the absence of the notified measure. Consequently, the aid will strengthen the financial position of beneficiaries in relation to its competitors in the Community and therefore will have potentially distorting effects on competition. 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." (par. 36-39 of the letter from the EC to Spain - Brussels, 30.3.2009 C(2009) 2355 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 and concludes 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. 41 - 45 of the letter).
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.