Member states reduced their aid to the manufacturing, coal and services sectors between 2001 and 2006 and focused on objectives related to the environment and energy saving (+11.6 percentage points). On the other hand, the increase in support for research and development was limited (+1.7 points) and support for employment also increased only moderately (+2.6 points). These are the findings that emerge from the European Commission's latest State Aid Scoreboard, published on 13 December, which covers the periods 2001-2003 and 2004-2006.

On the whole, in 2006, with the exception of Malta and Hungary, the 25 all spent more than 85% of their aid on the EU's horizontal objectives (environment and energy saving, regional development, research and development, SMEs, training and employment).

Aid to specific sectors declined, in particular for services, including financial services (-8.4 points) and the coal industry (-7.2 points), especially in Poland (-44.1 points). Rescue and restructuring aid declined from 6.2 billion in 2001-2003 to 1.8 billion in 2004-2006. On the other hand, "there was no significant change in the share of aid for other horizontal objectives such as regional aid, development, SMEs and training," commented the Commission.

On research, development and innovation (RDI), the Commission notes that, under the 7th Framework Programme, it has so far approved 42 schemes and ad hoc cases, with a total budget of over 12 billion. Fifteen of those schemes...

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