The EU Commission launches evaluation of the EU State aid rules
The European Commission has today launched an evaluation of the EU State aid rules applicable to services of general economic interest in the field of health and social services, such as medical care provided by hospitals, long term-care, childcare and social housing. These services form an essential part of the welfare system of each Member State. Member States are largely free to decide how to organise these services. The Commission’s role, through its State aid framework, is to ensure that public funding granted for the provision of such services does not unduly distort competition in the Internal Market.
In this context, the Commission must also ensure that the applicable State aid rules remain fit for purpose. To this end, the Commission evaluation launched today will assess whether the existing rules have reached their objectives (i.e. clarification of key State aid principles, simplification and a diversified and proportionate approach to services of general economic interest) and whether they are still appropriate in light of the developments in the sector and in the jurisprudence of the EU Court of Justice. Furthermore, the Commission will also evaluate the Regulation on de minimis State aid to undertakings providing services of general economic interest, which is set to expire on 31 December 2020. Under this Regulation, public service compensation measures of up to €500,000 per company over a three-year period are exempted from the application EU State aid rules because they are considered too small to affect competition or trade between Member States.
The Commission will assess the application of the Regulation, in view of a possible prolongation or amendment of the Regulation after 2020. The evaluation of both sets of rules will include a public consultation in the third quarter of 2019, a targeted questionnaire for Member States, as well as a study to be carried out by an expert appointed by the Commission. The evaluation does not prejudge whether the Commission will maintain or review the rules on services of general economic interest currently in