ANNOUNCEMENT 26 Feb 2009In February 2009, the government of Hungary announced a change in private-sector financial support.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
Official letter from the EC to Hungary - Brussels, 10.03.2009 C(2009)1856. Available from -< http://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=3_N114_2009 >
On 26 February 2009, Hungary notified a guarantee scheme ("Application of rules relating to aid in form of guarantees under the Temporary Framework for an existing method applied by Garantiqa Hitelgarancia Zrt. (HG) to calculate the aid element in guarantees") under the 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 subsidized guarantees for investment and working capital loans as well as for financial leasing (State aid N 114/2009)
The Hungarian authorities estimate that under the scheme a guarantee volume of HUF 1800 billion (EUR 6 billion) will be authorized amounting to HUF 7.7 billion (EUR 26 million) in aid. The scheme is to be run by Garantiqa Hitelgarancia Zrt. ("HG") on behalf of the Hungarian state.
The beneficiaries of the scheme are small and medium-sized enterprises, located in all regions of Hungary. The scheme is open to all sectors. It applies to the whole territory of Hungary.
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 financial obligations resulting from the guarantees given by HG are counter-guaranteed by the state. Moreover, a regulation sets out for HG the activities to be carried out in order to benefit from this counter-guarantee. The measure is thus imputable to the state. The measure is selective since guarantees are awarded only to certain undertakings. The measure confers an advantage by relieving the beneficiaries of costs which they would have to bear under normal market conditions since, without the intervention by the State, the beneficiaries would obtain loans only at higher costs, if at all. 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. 26-29 of the letter from the EC to Hungary - Brussels, 10.03.2009 C(2009)1856).
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. 31-35 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.