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What measures can be taken without notification to the European Commission?

There have always been ways for public bodies to assist without being required to notify these for approval. These continue to be available during the financial crisis, and are likely to be increasingly useful for measures which need to be introduced quickly. The measures include:

Those where it is possible to conclude that there is no effect on trade between Member States – for example, measures which are likely to have only a limited local effect. The European Commission has concluded, for example, that measures to assist locally-focused cultural activity can be assumed to have no effect on inter-State trade. 

Those where it is possible to conclude that the State is acting in a way consistent with a commercial operator (the so-called Market Economy Operator Principle) – particular care will need to be taken in the context of current economic conditions to ensure that it can reasonably be asserted that a commercial operator would act in the same way as the public body.

Measures under the General Block Exemption Regulation – this legislation allows various types of aid, or aid schemes, to be employed.

Examples include aid for SMEs, aid for research and development, aid for local infrastructure and aid to ports and airports.

De Minimis Measures – Member States are permitted to grant small amounts of aid to undertakings over three fiscal years (the current year and the previous two years). This allows undertakings to receive up to €200,000 (or €500,000 where they are providing public services).