THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- agrees that state aid for rescue and restructuring should not keep firms with no prospects for the future from exiting the market, with effects contrary to the principles of a "highly competitive social market economy", which would be harmful to free competition as well as to consumers and taxpayers. Such aid may, however, be useful to help structurally profitable firms to overcome a period of instability, protect jobs and preserve industrial knowhow, and maintain the economic fabric of a region;
- proposes that de minimis thresholds for notifying state aid for the rescue and restructuring of firms be introduced;
- proposes that the maximum period for rescue aid measures be increased to six months, renewable once for a further six months;
- is in favour of requiring specific compensatory measures in the case of exceptional contributions by public authorities, including a ban on payment of dividends during the restructuring period;
- suggests that the durability of operations clause in Article 57 of the current general regulation on the structural funds be applied by analogy to state aid. That article provides for recovery of aid where the investment is not maintained for five years, or three years for SMEs;
- believes that the maximum amount of aid for the rescue and restructuring of any one firm, which was set at EUR 10 million in 2007, should be increased to EUR 15 million to take account of inflation and other relevant factors (such as the impact on GDP and on unemployment).