As part of its state aid modernisation drive, the European Commission has published a new consultation draft of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) which runs until 28 June 2013. One of the key aims of reform in this area is to simplify and clarify the existing state aid rules and extend the scope of the GBER to reduce administrative burdens. Given the complexity of state aid law, such aims are clearly laudable.
One interesting feature is a new exemption permitting support for the construction or upgrade of research infrastructures which perform economic activities. This can perhaps be seen as an attempt to mitigate the effects of the recent Leipzig Halle judgment – at any rate, in this economically important sector.
We can expect to see increased investment in this area as central and local government seeks to attract large and small research organisations to assist economic growth. That being so, providing public bodies with the flexibility to support such growth can only be a positive step.
Posted by Alex Kynoch, who specialises in public procurement and local authority law; state aid, projects and complex commercial contracts including PFI.
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