On 1 December 2022, the European Commission published the results of the evaluation it launched on 17 June 2019 on the application of its State aid Regulation concerning services of general economic interest (SGEI) in the field of social services, health and for small amounts of aid to citizens, public authorities, companies, associations, consumer/business organisations, NGOs, trade unions and Member States.
As a reminder, the Commission's regulatory package, which came into force in 2012 and consists of an exemption decision (allowing for the avoidance of prior notification of public service compensation to the Commission), a Regulation on de minimis aid for SGEI (capped at EUR 500,000 per company per period of three fiscal years) and a framework specifying the conditions for the authorisation of public service compensation by the Commission, was intended to replace the package adopted in 2005 following the Altmark ruling.
Objectives of the evaluation
The three main objectives of the evaluation launched by the Commission include:
- Verifying whether the objectives of the regulatory framework for SGEI put in place in 2012 have been achieved;
- Ensuring that these rules still meet the needs of the sectors concerned in the light of their evolution and the case-law of the Court of Justice of the EU;
- And identifying potential problems encountered by Member States in applying these rules.
Results of the evaluation
Based on the results of the evaluation, the Commission considers that the framework applicable to SGEI in the fields of social and health services is broadly fit for the purpose. Nevertheless, the evaluation notes that some changes could still be made in order to simplify the existing rules and reduce the administrative burden that is still too great for the authorities when delegating SGEI to providers.
The Commission's evaluation document is available via this link.
Changes to be considered
While the evaluation was generally conclusive, it shows that certain essential concepts in the application of the regulatory framework such as "economic and non-economic activity", "effect on trade between Member States", "reasonable profit", "market failure", "social housing" should be clarified in order to simplify the application of this framework and to allow for a reduction of the administrative burden of Member States when granting these public service compensations to the companies concerned.
Based on this assessment, the Commission is also considering increasing the ceiling for de minimis aid for SGEI to account for estimated inflation for the period 2012 to 2030 and recent economic developments, aligning it with the general de minimis Regulation and improving the transparency of de minimis aid by requiring the establishment of a mandatory national register of de minimis aid.
The European Commission will assess the need for these changes. To this end, a call for input was launched on 12 December 2022 to gather the views of stakeholders.
Interested parties, such as Member States, companies, consumers, business organisations and individuals, were invited to submit their views until 9 January 2023.
The Commission will now consider these comments before starting the revision of the relevant regulatory package.