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C 79/10 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 14.3.

98

The Commission hereby requests the German The Commission hereby gives other Member States and
Government to inform the recipient firm without interested parties notice to submit their comments on the
delay of the initiation of proceedings and of the fact measures within one month of the date of publication of
that it may have to repay any aid unlawfully this notice in the Official Journal of the European
received. Communities, to:
European Commission
Any negative decision on the aid will mean that the Directorate-General for Competition (DG IV)
recipient firm must in principle repay the aid in Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 200
accordance with the procedures and provisions laid B-1049 Brussels.
down by German law, including interest calculated
at the reference rate used for regional aid and with The comments will be communicated to the German
effect from the date on which the aid was granted.’ Government.

STATE AID
CØ5/96
France

(98/C 79/07)

(Text with EEA relevance)

(Articles 92 to 94 of the Treaty establishing the European Community)

Commission notice pursuant to Article 93(2) of the EC Treaty to other Member States and
interested parties concerning aid which France plans to grant to Saab-Scania

The Commission has sent the French Government the —Ùit could not be excluded that some items of expen-
following letter, informing it that it has decided to diture for which the aid had been granted did not
terminate proceedings previously initiated under Article qualify for aid under the Commission’s criteria,
93(2) of the EC Treaty.

—Ùthe apparently high aid intensity for a project


‘By letter No SG(96) D/2460 of 22 February 1996, involving extension of capacity on the European bus
published in the Official Journal of the European and truck market could have given rise to unjustified
Communities on 21 March 1996, the Commission distortions of competition,
informed the French Government of its decision to
initiate the procedure provided for in Article 93(2) of the
EC Treaty in respect of aid of FRF 24,7 million in
favour of Saab-Scania. The Commission’s decision was
based on the following grounds: —Ùthe French authorities had not presented enough
evidence to justify the aid by reference to the
structural and economic problems which Saab-Scania
faced as a result of its investments in Angers. The
—Ùthe aid had not been notified to the Commission in overall aid intensity could have been dispropor-
accordance with the procedure provided for in tionately high and incompatible with the criteria laid
Article 93(3) of the EC Treaty before being paid to down in the Community framework for state aid to
the recipient, the motor vehicle industry.

—Ùthe aid intensity could have exceeded the regional aid


ceiling for the region where the plant was to be The amount of aid (FRF 24,7 million) represents the
constructed (Angers), difference between the aid paid in 1992 in the form of a
14.3.98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 79/11

regional planning grant (‘‘PAT’’) tranche of FRF 50,7 to the initial project being amended. Accordingly, in
million and the amount of FRF 26 million subsequently their letter dated 3 January 1997, your authorities agreed
repaid by the firm. in principle to recover the balance of FRF 24,7 million
and stated that, in view of the time taken by them to
issue a receipt, Scania had transferred to a blocked,
non-interest-bearing account an amount equivalent to
The letter also pointed out that any recipient of aid the net value of the amount repayable to your auth-
granted illegally, i.e. without the Commission having orities.
reached a final decision, may have to refund the aidØ(Î)
in accordance with the procedures and provisions of the
law of the Member State concerned, in particular those The discounting arrangements detailed by your auth-
relating to arrears on State liabilities, with interest orities are as follows:
charged on the amount of aid paid to the company
concerned from the date of payment at the percentage
value on that date of the reference rate used for the —Ùstart: payment of the PAT grant to Saab-Scania in
calculation of the net grant equivalent of the various February 1992,
types of aid in that Member State. The Commission also
requested your authorities to inform the recipient
—Ùannual rate: reference rate used for the calculation of
without delay that the procedure had been initiated and
the net grant equivalent of the various types of aid in
of the fact that it might have to repay any aid improperly
France at the time when the grant was made, i.e.
received.
10,61Ø%, as specified in the letter to your authorities
dated 22 February 1996,

By letter dated 23 April 1996, your authorities —Ùend: date of payment in December 1996 of the
announced that they were working with Scania to collate amount repayable into a blocked account which did
the information needed by the Commission to assess the not earn interest for Scania.
proposed aid for the investment project in Angers. They
also asked for a briefing to be held in June of that year;
the Commission agreed to that request in its letter dated The competent interministerial committee (CIALA)
7 May. A memorandum from your authorities dated discussed all the above points on 8 January 1997. The
22 May gave details of developments in the ‘‘bus’’ and discounted value of the aid repayable to the national
‘‘chassis’’ projects which were confirmed at a meeting on authorities by Scania was fixed at FRF 40Ø177Ø000.
10 June attended by representatives of Scania, your auth-
orities and the Commission. Lastly, in a letter dated
26 June, your authorities reaffirmed that the ‘‘bus’’ A copy of the receipt from the Treasury was sent to the
project was eligible for aid (as part of that project, real Commission on 7 April 1997.
estate investments to the tune of FRF 57,5 million
initially earmarked for the ‘‘cabin’’ and ‘‘engine’’ projects
had been undertaken in 1992) and that the firm had
The Commission checked, on a point-by-point basis, that
decided to repay the PAT tranche in full.
the recovery conditions envisaged by your authorities
were consistent with the recovery arrangements set out
in the decision initiating the procedure:

In its decision to initiate the procedure provided for in


Article 93(2) of the EC Treaty, the Commission took —Ùthe starting date of the discounting period
note of the repayment by Scania of an initial corresponds to the date of effective payment of the
(discounted) tranche of FRF 26 million and set out its aid,
serious doubts as to the compatibility of the residual aid,
which had a gross value of FRF 24,7 million.
—Ùthe discount rate is identical to the reference rate
used (percentage) on that date for the calculation of
the net grant equivalent of the various types of aid in
France, i.e. 10,61Ø%,
In their memorandum dated 26 June, your authorities
acknowledged that on 18 December 1990 the
Commission had authorised aid only for the construction —Ùthe proposed date for the end of the discounting
of a new engine and cabin assembly plant and had period corresponds to the date of effective payment
opposed aid for the truck assembly plant. They also of the amount owed by Scania into a blocked
referred to the new developments in the project resulting account, the aim being to avoid any financial damage
from the turnaround in market conditions, which had led to the firm as a result of the time needed by the
competent authorities to issue the receipt (several
(Î)ÙOJ C 318, 24.11.1983. weeks).
C 79/12 EN Official Journal of the European Communities 14.3.98

In the light of the discounting arrangements for the Chassis production is intended for trucks.
recoverable PAT tranche, the Commission made the
following calculation:
Your authorities also confirmed that 128 jobs (119 with
(thousand FRF) Scania France and 9 with Scania Finance) were trans-
Year Amount Rate Interest Total ferred when Scania’s commercial headquarters were
moved from Paris to Angers. The move was completed
1992 24Ø666 10,61Ø% 2Ø310 26Ø976
on 30 June 1995.
1993 26Ø976 10,61Ø% 2Ø862 29Ø838
1994 29Ø838 10,61Ø% 3Ø166 33Ø003
1995 33Ø003 10,61Ø% 3Ø502 36Ø505 The aid recipient is Scania Production Angers, whose
1996 36Ø505 10,61Ø% 3Ø672 40Ø177 activities include truck and bus assembly. It is a
subsidiary of the Scania group, which is a world leader
in trucks in excess of 16 tonnes and buses carrying more
than 40 passengers. The group’s operations are divided
The discounted value of the aid to be repaid by Scania into four sectors: trucks, buses and coaches, engines for
thus amounts to FRF 40Ø177Ø000, which is the same as industry and the navy, and after-sales service.
the amount calculated by your authorities.

The investments eligible for aid are located at Angers in


an assisted area as defined for the purposes of Article
Lastly, by letter dated 7 April and faxes dated 12 May
92(3)(c) of the EC Treaty. Maximum aid intensity is
and 21 May, the Commission received evidence from
17Ø% gross grant equivalent (gge).
your authorities that the discounted amount owed had
been recovered, together with documents certifying that
payment into a blocked account had not resulted in any
advantage for the firm concerned and that, in particular, For the ‘‘bus’’ project, your authorities envisage granting
no financial benefit had accrued to Scania. aid in the form of a PAT with an intensity of 17Ø%,
which is equivalent to the regional ceiling. Total
investment amounts to FRF 73 million and planned aid
to FRF 12,4 million.
The Commission concludes that the conditions for the
recovery of the PAT tranche of FRF 24,7 million gross
by your authorities are consistent with the recovery According to your authorities, the transfer of jobs from
arrangements set out in the decision initiating the Paris to an assisted area qualifies for aid under the
procedure. ‘‘decentralisation’’ section of the PAT programme,
whereby grants can be made for up to FRF 70Ø000 per
job transferred. In the case in point, the planned aid for
128 transferred jobs, of which 119 are with Scania
The decision to initiate the procedure provided for in France and 9 with Scania Finance, amounts to FRF 8,96
Article 93(2) of the EC Treaty in respect of the aid million.
tranche of FRF 24,7 million also mentioned a number of
corollary projects and aid measures envisaged by your
authorities and the firm. Your authorities provided the Scania has decided that the ‘‘chassis’’ project should not
Commission with additional information on the activities be included in the aid calculations.
eventually carried out by Scania and on the corre-
sponding grants.
The grants for the ‘‘bus’’ project and the transfer of jobs
from Paris to Angers when Scania relocates its
Accordingly, in addition to the information received commercial headquarters are to be financed by the State
before the Article 93(2) procedure was initiated, your or with State resources and, moreover, would benefit a
authorities pointed out in their letter dated 22 May 1996 specific company. They thus constitute State aid.
that the total investments directly linked to the project
amounted to FRF 73 million, comprising real estate
investments of FRF 57,5 million and investments in plant The aid for the ‘‘bus’’ project would be granted under
and machinery of FRF 15,5 million. The valuation of the the PAT scheme, which was last amended by Decree
workshops and ancillary buildings was based on expen- No 95-149 of 6 February 1995 and approved by the
diture incurred, calculated according to the number of Commission by decision of 27 September 1994. The aid
square metres occupied by ‘‘bus’’ activities. External intensity is 17Ø% gge, which is in line with the regional
work, such as storage and network construction, was ceiling. The ‘‘bus’’ project is a motor vehicle project
valued solely on the basis of the share required for bus within the meaning of the Community framework for
assembly activities. The project runs from 1996 to 2001 State aid to the motor vehicle industry. The definition
and should permit an annual output of 250 vehicles. given in the framework states that the ‘‘motor vehicle
14.3.98 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 79/13

industry’’ means the manufacture and assembly of the cost of a single project. Lastly, the corresponding aid
‘‘motor vehicles’’, which may cover passenger cars, is granted under an approved scheme (PAT). The
trucks, road tractors, buses or coaches. All aid to be Commission concludes from the above that the project in
granted by the public authorities under authorised aid question, which forms part of a previously approved
schemes for firms operating in the motor vehicle industry scheme, does not need to be notified.
must be notified beforehand in accordance with Article
93(3) of the EC Treaty if the cost of the project that is No other form of aid is planned by the French auth-
to receive the aid exceeds ECU 12 million (ECU 17 orities for the projects in question.
million as from 1 January 1996). The Commission has
checked that the total eligible investments under the
‘‘bus’’ project amount to FRF 73 million, or some ECU The Commission is able to terminate the procedure
11 million, which is below the notification threshold provided for in Article 93(2) of the EC Treaty given that
specified in the framework. It concludes from its investi- the aid tranche of FRF 24,7 million paid by the French
gations that the requirements of the PAT scheme authorities to Scania and in respect of which the
notified have been complied with and that, given the size procedure was initiated has been recovered in full in
of the investment and of the industry concerned, the aid accordance with the relevant arrangements, that the
for the project in question does not need to be notified. projects were implemented under an aid scheme
previously approved by the Commission and that the
The aid for the transfer of the Paris office to Angers amounts and type of the investments involved mean that
would also be granted under the PAT scheme and is in the French authorities are not required to give any
line with the ceiling per job, i.e. FRF 70Ø000. Given that notification in accordance with the guidelines for the
the decentralisation of Scania’s Paris-based activities motor vehicle industry.
essentially concerns only commercial and retailing
activities, it does not come under the motor vehicle The Commission hereby notifies the French Government
industry within the meaning of the framework. In that this letter will be published in the Official Journal of
addition, the transfer is not directly linked to the ‘‘bus’’ the European Communities with a view to informing the
project and, consequently, the associated cost must not other Member States and interested parties of its
be added to the cost of that project in order to establish decision.’