The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules Spain’s regional aid map from 1 January 2022 to 31 December 2027, in the framework of the revised guidelines on regional aid.
The revised guidelines, adopted by the Commission on 19 April 2021 and in force since 1 January 2022, enable Member States to help Europe’s less advantaged regions catch up and reduce well-being disparities economic, income and unemployment – cohesion objectives which are at the heart of the Union. They also provide Member States with increased opportunities to help regions facing structural challenges or in transition, such as depopulation, to fully contribute to green and digital transitions.
At the same time, the revised guidelines maintain strong safeguards to prevent Member States from using public funds to trigger the relocation of jobs from one EU Member State to another, which is essential for a fair competition in the single market.
The Spanish regional aid map defines the Spanish regions eligible for regional investment aid. The map also establishes the maximum aid intensities in the eligible regions. The aid intensity is the maximum amount of State aid that can be granted per beneficiary, expressed as a percentage of the eligible investment costs.
Under the revised RAG, regions covering 66.29% of the Spanish population will be eligible for regional investment aid:
Outermost regions may be designated by Member States as eligible for aid under Article 107(3)(a) TFEU (so-called ‘a’ areas). In Spain, the outermost region of the Canary Islands will continue to be eligible for aid as zone “a”. In this area, the maximum aid intensity for large companies will be 50%.
The regions of Castile-La Mancha, Extremadura, Andalusia, Ciudad de Ceuta and Ciudad de Melilla are among the most disadvantaged regions in the EU, with a GDP per capita below 75% of the average of the EU. These regions are also eligible for aid under Article 107(3)(a) TFEU, with a maximum aid intensity for large companies of 30%. Cuenca, in Castile-La Mancha, also qualifies as a sparsely populated area, with less than 12.5 inhabitants per km2. In sparsely populated areas, Member States may use operating aid schemes to prevent or reduce depopulation.
The Region of Murcia is no longer considered an ‘a’ area given its positive economic development, but is now considered a predefined region under the derogation of Article 107(3)(c) of the TFEU (so-called “c” area), as for all regions qualified as “a” areas during the period up to 2021 and no longer qualified as such during the current period. The maximum aid intensities for large companies in this area will vary between 15% and 20%, with the highest aid intensity applying to the first half of the period.
The regions of Teruel and Soria are also referred to as predefined “c” zones because they are sparsely populated areas, with less than 12.5 inhabitants per km2. The maximum aid intensity for large companies in these areas will be 20%.
In order to remedy regional disparities, Spain has designated as non-predefined so-called “c” areas the regions of Galicia, Principado de Asturias, Cantabria, La Rioja, Comunitat Valenciana, Illes Balears, Huesca and part of Castilla y León, Zaragoza , Madrid, Cataluña, Comunidad Foral de Navarra and País Vasco. In these areas, the maximum aid intensity for large companies will be 15%. The Commission has also authorized an increase in the maximum aid intensity for large companies in two regions of Castile and León: from 15% to 25% in Salamanca, so that the difference in aid intensity with the “a” border area of Beiras e Serra da Estrela is limited to 15 percentage points, and 15% to 20% in Zamora, due to its relatively high population loss over the last decade.
In all the above areas, the maximum aid intensities can be increased by 10 percentage points for investments made by medium-sized enterprises and by 20 percentage points for investments made by small enterprises, for their initial investments eligible costs do not exceed EUR 50 million.
Once a future Just Transition Territorial Plan under the Just Transition Fund Regulation is in place, Spain will have the possibility to notify the Commission of a change to the regional aid map approved today. today, in order to apply a possible increase in maximum aid intensity in future just transition zones, as specified in the revised RAG for “a” zones.