Belgium, (Brussels Morning Newspaper) The European Commission has approved France’s aid scheme worth 700 million euro to support development, research and innovation in all sectors.
The scheme is part of France’s recovery programme aimed at speeding up economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis, the Commission pointed out in a press release on Wednesday.
Margrethe Vestager, European Commissioner for Competition, noted that the “scheme allows for research, development and innovation in energy transition and environmental protection, digital transition, innovations in production processes, and research necessary to support the continued functioning of European value chain and the security of supply.”
She added that the plan includes safeguards that will minimise any distortions of competition.
The EC pointed out that the scheme is to remain in place until the end of 2023 and help France to support research and development (R&D) projects as well as provide aid to the economy for organisational and process innovation.
France is to provide the aid in the form of repayable advances, loans and grants.
The scheme focuses on environmental protection, energy and digital transition, innovation in industry and research.
The EC pointed out that the French scheme is necessary to support R&D projects and incentivise businesses to implement them, stressing that such projects would not be launched without the aid.
The body added that the measures are proportionate and proposed aid is as low as possible while ensuring that projects are implemented.
It stressed that the aid plan includes safeguards against distortions of competition, noting that the scheme does not focus on sectors excessively, limits the amount of aid per beneficiary, ensures that research results are shared widely and prevents overcapacity.
The Commission noted that expected positive effects of the scheme outweigh any negative ones as far as competition goes, which is why it approved the scheme.
The EC reminded that the framework for providing state aid for coronavirus crisis recovery was adopted in March 2020 to help EU member states support their economies.
“In line with a specific provision included in the COVID State Aid Temporary Framework, this measure is applicable only to aid to individual beneficiaries exceeding by up to 50% the notification thresholds amounts provided by the General Block Exemption Regulation,” the Commission concluded.