Annex A: country profiles

AuthorMichie, Rona; Wishlade, Fiona; Mendez, Carlos
Fact-finding study on the GBER transparency re quirement
GBER is directly applicable; there is no domestic State aid
The four State aid units have a training and information
function, but no enforcement role
Separate arrangements apply for agriculture, forestry and
fisheries and are the responsibility of the regional
ministries for agriculture, where relevant
State aid coordination is highly decentralised:
Brussels Capital Region: Economy and
Employment, Service Public Régionale de Bruxelles
Flanders: Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Agency, VLAIO
Wallonia: Directorate for Economy, Labour and
o Federal level: Permanent Representation to the EU
Awarding bodies are responsible for State aid compliance
Operational and technical
Awarding bodies input to TAM directly
No central (or regional) State aid register
No de minimis register
Other points to note
The four State aid coordinating bodies collaborate closely
but are institutionally separate
Brussels Capital Region is planning a ‘catalogue of services’
to include all State support, including de minimis
1.1. Summary
Responsibility for implementing the transparency requirements in Belgium is highly decentralised,
reflecting the federal nature of the country. At regional level, certain units or officials within the
Flanders, Walloon and Brussels Capital governments play a coordination and advisory role for
awarding bodies within their jurisdictions; the federal government has a similar role for
nationwide measures. The approach in all four cases (three regional, one national) is broadly
similar insofar as the State aid coordinators provide a support network for awarding bodies
and/or their parent ministries, but have no jurisdiction over them and the latter are formally
responsible for reporting under the transparency requireme nts.
Introduction of the transparency requirements in 2016 did not re quire specific legislative action
as the GBER is directly applicable. Instead, the main shift has been in providing information and
advice to awarding bodies regarding transparency reporting. This has involved upgrading the
guidance provided, specific seminars/webinars, networking and other training and information
Prior to the introduction of the TAM, there was no centralised system of award reporting in
Formal responsibility for compliance with the transparency requirements rests with the awarding
bodies. The State aid coordinators for the four jurisdictions have information and advisory roles
and have been involved in training awarding bodies on encoding and other aspects of the TAM;
however, they have no direct role in inputting the data. In practical terms, awarding bodies apply
for TAM login details through the Belgian Permanent Representation and organise the reporting
of awards under the transparency requirement as each sees fit.
Arrangements for ABER and FIBER are separate, but similar. In Flanders (the only region with a
coastal maritime sector) responsibility lies with the regional ministerial agencies in the agriculture
and fisheries policy domain. In Wallonia, formal responsibility lies with the Department for
Agriculture, Natural Resources and the Environment. The Brussels Capital Region does not
provide aid under ABER or FIBER.
The overall system is similar for the four jurisdictions: State aid coordinators in each provide
advice, training and support, but awarding bodies are responsible for transparency reporting.
1.2. Legal arrangements
1.2.1. Legal basis
Introduction of the transparency requirements in 2016 did not require specific legislative action
as the GBER is directly applicable.
Nevertheless, in Flanders, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Agency (VLAIO), of which the
State aid coordinator is a part, has added an updated State aid compliance article (referring,
among other things, to the scope of the GBER, the Deggendorf principle, undertakings in difficulty
and the transparency requirements) to the legal basis for all its schemes. The terms and
conditions of the VLAIO aid scheme now contain a specific provision outlining the transparency
requirements, and other Flanders agencies have been encouraged to do the same.
Elsewhere there has been no explicit legislative change because the GBER is directly applicable.
Prior to the introduction of the TAM, there was no centralised system of award reporting in
Belgium. However, within Flanders, some information on large awards was centrally collated as
part of a long-term strategy of increasing awareness of State aid and large amounts of aid, but
these were not systematically published. The Brussels Capital Region operated a system of
ordonnances on publishing awards to Brussels businesses, which facilitated access to information
and likely made implementation of the transparency requirements easier in some respects.
1.2.2. Substantive provisions
To the extent that domestic provisions have been introduced (i.e. only in Flanders), these
replicate the EU transparency requirements and do not go beyond them.
Fact-finding study on the GBER transparency re quirement
1.2.3. Enforcement
The State aid coordinators at regional and federal level do not have an enforcement role with
respect to State aid transparency requirements, nor indeed regarding State aid compliance more
Awarding bodies and their parent administrations in all four jurisdictions are ultimately
responsible for compliance with the transparency requirements, but there are no specific
procedures to enforce this, nor any specific sanctions for non-compliance.
The Belgian competition authority (BMA-ABC) has no competence in State aid matters.
1.3. Organisational arrangements
1.3.1. Institutional arrangements
The institutional arrangements for compliance with the transparency requirements are highly
decentralised, but broadly similar across Belgium.
In all three regions (Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels Capital Region), and at the Federal level,
there are well-developed coordination and advisory mechanisms; however, awarding bodies
and/or their parent ministries are responsible for compliance for reporting awards exceeding
€500,000. The coordinators provide guidance and may signal potential compliance issues, but
have no formal responsibility.
All the regions and the Federal level have a coordination capacity with respect to State aid. In
Flanders this function is the responsibility of a single official in VLAIO who provides guidance,
manages the network of awarding bodies and liaises with the other Belgian regions, the federal
government and the European Commission. The network of represe ntatives of awarding bodies in
Flanders numbers around 200. In Wallonia the coordination funct ion is provided by the regional
contact point on State aid, situated in the Directorate for Economy, Labour and Research in the
Walloon regional government. As in Flanders, the coordinator provides information and
awareness-raising sessions and training for awarding bodies in Wallonia. The Walloon network
comprises around 100 people from different ministries and parts of the administration.
The four State aid coordinators meet regularly to discuss common issues within their own
1.3.2. Scrutiny and control of specific compliance issues
There is no centralised mechanism to ensure compliance with specific compliance issues (namely:
Deggendorf principle, cumulation limits, de minimis conditions, firms in difficulty and single
undertaking criteria), but the State aid coordinating bodies provide advice and guidance as
required. For example, regarding firms in difficulty, a case in which the Commission intervened led
to a new approach to assessing the financial situation of firms. While this has been shared with
the networks by the Flanders coordinator, the responsibility for adopting such formulae rests with
the awarding bodies.

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