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Risk of Non-compliance with State Aid Rules in Cohesion Policy

Lessons Learnt from the 2007-2013 Period

Martin Weber, Stéphanie Gantzer-Houzel

The European Union’s competition rules, including State aid rules, are no specificity of cohesion policy; they apply to all public spending in the Member States. The European Court of Auditors (ECA) verifies, among other things, whether these rules have been complied with for projects funded by the European Structural and Investment (ESI) funds. This paper describes the most common irregularities detected by the Court in this field in recent years. Problems were identified, for example, in relation to the notification of the aid to the European Commission, the absence (or insufficient demonstration) of an incentive effect or the use of aid intensities that exceed the permitted ceilings. This paper also discusses how the risk of illegal State aid can be addressed by managing authorities already in an early stage, in particular when verifying whether the 'ex-ante conditionalities' required for the 2014-2020 operational programmes are in place.

Martin Weber is Director of Chamber II, Structural policies, Transport and Energy at the European Court of Auditors, Luxembourg; Stéphanie Gantzer-Houzel is Auditor in the same Chamber. The opinions expressed by the authors in this publication in no way bind the institution to which they belong


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