SERVICES OF GENERAL ECONOMIC INTEREST : COMMISSION ABOLISHES DISPUTED DE MINIMIS THRESHOLDS.

 
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The member states, local authorities and certain providers of services of general economic interest (SGEIs) have won their fight over the very controversial recast of the de minimis regulation. The European Commission agreed, on 20 December 2011, to abolish the thresholds of 10,000 inhabitants and 5 million in turnover, Gert-Jan Koopman, deputy director-general in charge of state aid at DG Competition, told Europolitics social. Public service compensation therefore no longer constitutes state aid if the amount granted by a public authority does not exceed 500,000 over three years (previously 450,000). This new version of the draft regulation still has to be put through a consultation, though, and is expected to enter into force in spring 2012.

The draft of the new de minimis regulation provoked a general outcry by stakeholders, who see the new consultation as a major advance. The de minimis regulation for SGEIs, which was temporarily separated from the rest of the legislative package (Almunia package) made up of three other texts adopted on 20 December by the Commission (see separate article), was the main stumbling block in the debate, placing the general balance of the legislative package on the technical (though eminently political) question of thresholds.

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