State aid: guidance

Guidance to help public sector bodies to understand and comply with state aid rules.

Please be aware, as of 01 January 2021, the EU State aid information on these pages is no longer applicable in the UK and should be used for reference only.

Minimising the risk of state aid being present

There may be options available to enable us to minimise the risk of state aid being present at programme level.

  1. In each case consider whether there is a robust argument that one or more of the four state aid tests are not met. For example, the activity being funded under the programme may not be economic in nature or may serve only a distinct, very local, market, with minimal possibility of intra-community trade or competition being distorted. If one of the tests is not met, then the measure is unlikely to be State aid.
  2. Procure openly for providers, as this could resolve a number of issues around business advice and employability services . If a service is being provided under a contract for services and at a market rate following an open procurement then there is no state aid.
  3. Notify a scheme under the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). This Regulation permits State aid for particular types of activity, for example training or investment in energy efficiency. However, aid awarded under the GBER is subject to aid intensities (limits) which represent the maximum public funding that can be awarded for an activity and not just the funding that one body is offering. Therefore this option may not help those organisations who are highly dependent on a variety of state funding sources.
  4. Consider whether the activity might be classed as a Service of General Economic Interest (SGEI). SGEI are services of an economic nature that public authorities identify as being of particular importance to citizens, but which are not supplied by market forces alone, or at least not to the extent and under the conditions required by society. Their provision may therefore require public intervention.

The potential presence of state aid does not necessarily mean that your project cannot proceed, provided that it is awarded in compliance with EC state aid regulations.

Back to top