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Talks on revision of Regional Aid Guidelines

In a meeting with Commissioner Kroes on 14 December, Norwegian Ministers of Finance and of Local Government and Regional Development stressed the importance of reintroducing the regionally differentiated employers’ social security contributions.

15/02/2006 :: Åslaug Haga, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development and Kristin Halvorsen, Minister of Finance, visited Brussels to have talks with European Commissioner for Competition, Neelie Kroes. The topic for the meeting was the revision of the Guidelines on National Regional Aid, with effect for the period 2007-2013,, which are expected to be finalised on 21 December. These will have a bearing on the options available for the system of regionally differentiated employers’ social security contributions in Norway.

“The differentitated social security contribution is a very accurate and efficient regional instrument in targeting the problem of depopulation in sparsely populated areas. This instrument also has low management costs. Our main message is that this instrument should be reintroduced”, Åslaug Haga and Kristin Halvorsen said after the meeting.

The Commission Guidelines on National Regional Aid are expected to imply that certain parts of Norway that have been covered by the former system that is now being phased out, will not be able to benefit from the reintroduction of  differentiated social security contributions.

“In our meeting with Commissioner Kroes we argued for  possibilities to have equal treatment of areas with the same challenges”, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Åslaug Haga, stated.

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Åslaug Haga Minister of Local Government and Regional Development and Kristin Halvorsen Minister of Finance at press conference on 14. December 2005Photo: Ann Mari Bjørlo/Mission of Norway