The European Commission on Thursday announced that, under EU State aid rules, it has approved Greece’s map for granting regional aid from January 1, 2022 to December 31, 2027 within the framework of the revised Regional aid Guidelines (‘RAG’).
The revised RAG, adopted by the Commission on 19 April 2021 and entering into force on January 1, 2022, enable Member States to support the least favoured European regions in catching up and to reduce disparities in terms of economic well-being, income and unemployment – cohesion objectives that are at the heart of the Union. They also provide increased possibilities for Member States to support regions facing transition or structural challenges such as depopulation, to contribute fully to the green and digital transitions.
At the same time, the revised RAG maintain strong safeguards to prevent member-states from using public money to trigger the relocation of jobs from one EU member-state to another, which is essential for fair competition in the Single Market.
Greece’s regional map defines the Greek regions eligible for regional investment aid. The map also establishes the maximum aid intensities in the eligible regions. The aid intensity is the maximum amount of State aid that can be granted per beneficiary, expressed as a percentage of eligible investment costs.
Under the revised RAG, regions covering 82.34 pct of the population of Greece will be eligible for regional investment aid:
Twelve regions are among the most disadvantaged regions in the EU, with a GDP per capita below 75 pct of EU average. These regions are eligible for aid under Article 107(3)(a) TFEU (so-called ‘a’ areas), with maximum aid intensities for large enterprises between 30 pct and 50 pct, depending on the GDP per capita of the respective ‘a’ area. The region Evrytania, which is part of Central Greece, also qualifies as a sparsely populated area having fewer than 12.5 inhabitants per square kilometre. In sparsely populated areas, member-states can use operating aid schemes to prevent or reduce depopulation.
In order to address regional disparities, Greece has designated as so-called non-predefined ‘c’ areas the regions of West Athens Sector, Eastern Attica, Western Attica, and Piraeus and Islands. The maximum aid intensities for large enterprises in the West Athens Sector is 15 pct. The other ‘c’ areas mentioned above border with ‘a’ areas. For this reason, the aid intensity in these regions has been increased to 25 pct, so that the difference in aid intensity with the bordering ‘a’ areas is limited to 15 percentage points.
Greece has the possibility to designate further so-called non-predefined ‘c’ areas (up to a maximum of 1.16 pct of the national population). The specific designation of these areas can take place in the future and would result in one or more amendments to the regional aid map approved on Thursday.
In all the above areas, the maximum aid intensities can be increased by 10 percentage points for investments made by medium-sized enterprises and by 20 percentage points for investments made by small enterprises, for their initial investments with eligible costs up to 50 million euros.
Once a future territorial Just Transition plan in the context of the Just Transition Fund Regulation will be in place, Greece has the possibility to notify the Commission an amendment to the regional aid map approved on Thursday, in order to apply a potential increase of the maximum aid intensity in the future Just Transition areas, as specified in the revised RAG for ‘a’ areas.