EU Suggests Wider State Aid Exemption for Research, Regional Aid

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(Bloomberg) --

The European Commission may stop advance inspection of European government funding for some EU research and regional aid programs as it tries to tackle criticism that the scrutiny holds up necessary public investments.

The EU watchdog is asking for feedback from governments on a proposal to allow national funding for the InvestEU, HorizonEurope and Interreg programs without prior state aid scrutiny. This would extend a so-called general block exemption that sets out what state funding doesn’t need EU approval.

The EU rules aim to prevent companies getting unfair advantage over rivals. Austria recently criticized the EU for lengthy and bureaucratic procedures that prevent governments disbursing emergency aid during the pandemic.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s antitrust chief, said it was important that “funding that does not cause undue distortions of competition can quickly reach the companies” that need it. The EU plans to have any new exemptions in place before the new EU budget starts in 2021.

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