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State aid

Get to grips with the rules covering State aid.

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State aid refers to forms of aid from a public or publicly-funded body to an economic undertaking on a selective basis, so that the aid:

  • Can be seen as distorting or threatening to distort competition in the internal market; and
  • May affect trade between member states of the European Union.

In the European Union, State aid is generally prohibited. State aid rules are in place to ensure that public aid is not used to give an enterprise from one country an unfair competitive advantage over other companies in other countries. However, State aid is allowed in closely-defined circumstances.

In the North Sea Programme, organisations can participate in projects in a way that that could potentially provide them with a competitive advantage. The inclusion of such organisations needs to be done in compliance with the State aid rules.

Please note the distinction between direct and indirect state aid:

Direct state aid refers to financial aid granted to organisations that are project partners in approved North Sea Programme projects.

Indirect state aid refers to aid granted to third party organisations that are not listed in the project application but that, through their participation in activities carried out by the project, receive an economic advantage compared to other identical organisations.