As small amounts of aid are unlikely to distort competition, a useful approved EU mechanism for State aid is the industrial de minimis regulation which allows small amounts of aid i.e. less than €200,000 over 3 consecutive fiscal years, to a single undertaking for a wide range of purposes.

About De Minimis aid

If you use the de minimis regulation you don't need to formally notify the aid to the European Commission or get prior approval, but you must comply with all of the conditions of the regulation.

Records must be kept to show that all conditions of the de minimis regulation have been met.  Also, before giving de minimis aid, aid providers must be able to show that they have checked that the award will not breach an undertaking's de minimis limit over a 3 year fiscal period (i.e. the fiscal years used by the undertaking in the Member State concerned, as defined by Article 2, Para 2 of the de minimis regulation).

If you are going to use the de minimis regulation for State aid cover, you must be able to justify your decision, and you must understand the requirements of the regulation and be sure that you can meet them.

To ensure that aid awards are clear and transparent, the European Commission encourages Member States to use Block Exemption Regulations (such as the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER)) to provide State aid cover when it can.  Many State aid advisors would suggest that you can consider use of the Block Exemption Regulations in preference to the de minimis regulation, where this is possible.  More information about the Block Exemption Regulations can be found at Section 3.2 of State aid: A Beginner's guide for Public Bodies in Northern Ireland.

NOTE: Separate rules apply to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Road Transport sectors.

De minimis aid to the agricultural sector is covered by a separate regulation and is capped at €15,000 over three consecutive fiscal years.

De minimis aid to the fisheries and aquaculture sectors also has its own regulation and is capped at €30,000 over three consecutive fiscal years.

De minimis aid to perform road freight transport for hire or reward is capped at €100,000 over any period of 3 fiscal years. The aid shall not be used for the acquisition of road freight transport vehicles.

Links to the relevant legislation and further guidance on how to apply them can be found on the State aid Regulations and Guidance page.

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