The EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) has adopted new guidelines on when a public measure does or does not involve state aid. The guidelines correspond to similar guidance adopted by the European Commission.
The guidelines aim to provide guidance to public authorities and companies in identifying when public support measures can be granted free of state aid. "The overall purpose is to provide legal certainty and cut red tape for public authorities and companies as well as to allow ESA to focus on cases with the biggest impact on the Single Market," EFTA informed.
The guidelines address key elements, such as the origin of public funding, the notion of economic activity, the granting of an advantage, the selective nature of the advantage, and the effects on competition and trade between EEA States.
EEA States are free to decide on the economic policy which they consider most appropriate and, in particular, to spread the tax burden as they see fit across the various factors of production. In principle, genuine cooperative societies conform to operating principles which distinguish them from other economic operators. Particularly, they are subject to specific membership requirements and their activities are conducted for the mutual benefit of their members, not in the interest of outside investors. In addition, reserves and assets are non-distributable and must be dedicated to the common interest of the members, EFTA informed.
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