The EU bodies are currently discussing the
Cohesion Fund for the period 2021 to 2027. The EU Commission, the Council and
the European Parliament have differing positions on this issue, which will be
voted on in autumn of this year. As the EU budget for the same period, which the
European Council is responsible for, has not yet been adopted, it is not yet
clear what financial resources will be allocated to the individual funds.
However, the key protagonists and
stakeholders have not been idle, rather they have been working for some time on
the framework provisions which are to apply until 2027. These include a
framework Regulation laying down joint provisions for all funds and the
relevant regulations for the European Regional Development Fund, the European
Social Fund+ and Interreg.
For example, the aim of the EU Commission’s
Regulation is to relax the provisions governing funding for projects,
including European Territorial Cooperation (ETC, Interreg). ETC subsidies for certain cost
groups are to remain exempted from notification requirements up to a maximum of
two million euros per company and project with a maximum aid rate of 65%. The
Commission has launched a public
consultation for this proposal, which is open until 27 September 2019.
Project partners such as local and other authorities of the Euroregions are
expected to participate.
Generally speaking, public grants which
qualify as State aid under Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of
the European Union (TFEU) must be notified to the Commission before being
implemented. The aim of the principles on which EU State aid rules are based is
to ensure that public expenditure does not lead to unfair competition between
companies operating in the EU internal market.
The principles help to ensure that public
money does not replace private investment, that it serves general policy
objectives and it does not go beyond what is necessary to achieve those
objectives. The Commission does not need to be notified of State aid if it
fulfils all the criteria of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) and
if distortions in competition are likely to be limited.