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Greater legal certainty

On 7 July the EEA Joint Committee adopted a decision that implements two acts which provide greater legal certainty with regard to the financing of services of general economic interest.

15/08/2006 :: According to the new rules companies can, in carrying out public service tasks as defined and entrusted to them by public authorities, receive public support to cover all costs incurred, provided that there is no over-compensation liable to distort competition. This also includes support for a reasonable profit. 

EFTA States may now grant compensation to companies providing services of general economic interest without notifying the EFTA Surveillance Authority in advance when certain conditions are fulfilled in order to ensure compatibility with the EEA state aid rules.  According to these conditions there has to be a clearly defined public service mandate, and  no over-compensation may be involved. Furthermore, the compensation must be less than € 30 million per year, and the beneficiaries must have an annual turnover of less than € 100 million. Compensation to small-scale public services, hospitals and social housing may be granted irrespective of the amounts involved. The same applies to compensation for air and sea transport to islands as well as airports and ports below specific thresholds defined in passenger volumes. 

Companies receiving compensation for the provision of services of general economic interest and operating on both public service and other markets must now have separate accounts for their different activities so that the absence of over-compensation can be checked. 
 


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