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Financial Instruments and the State Aid Rules for Risk Finance 2014-2020

Phedon Nicolaides

Examining the main requirements of the State aid rules on financial instruments and risk finance and considering how they may apply to financial instruments co-financed by European Investment and Structural Funds (ESI Funds) lie in the focus of this article. It starts by summarising the main Structural Funds provisions concerning financial instruments in order to make clear, how they relate to State aid. Then, it reviews the findings of recent reports concerning the actual effects of ERDF support for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and financial instruments. Having set the context in which the new State aid rules should be understood, the article examines the new risk finance rules in the Guidelines and the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It concludes by drawing lessons from the joint application of Structural Funds and State aid rules and makes a number of recommendations concerning the compliance with State aid rules.

“Jan Tinbergen” Professor at the College of Europe, Bruges. I am grateful for comments from an anonymous referee on a previous draft.


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