The competition policy calendar for the next six months contains reforms in specific sectors with the aim of adapting the existing framework to the post-crisis context or developments on various markets. The touchiest issues will be state aid for services of general economic interest (SGEI), where there is strong opposition in several member states, and aid for the banking sector, recently prolonged for one year to strengthen recapitalisation measures.

The framework in force since 2005 for public support for SGEIs, which lays down conditions for the compatibility of aid granted to undertakings charged with providing a public service, was revised last December to ease the Commission's control when the impact on trade between member states is limited. Initially, the new Almunia package', named after the competition commissioner, included four texts: a decision on notification exemptions, a specific de minimis regulation and two communications meant to simplify and clarify provisions on compensation for public services. In the face of harsh criticism of the de minimis regulation by member states, local authorities, practitioners and beneficiaries of this aid, in particular on the proposed thresholds of 150,000 per year, 10,000 inhabitants and turnover of less than 5 million to be eligible for the exemption, the commissioner postponed its...

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