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2002 EN Official Journal of the European Communities C 115 E/233

(2002/C 115 E/250) WRITTEN QUESTION P-3142/01

by Gary Titley (PSE) to the Commission

(7 November 2001)

Subject: State Aid Regulations and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)

The Commission will undoubtedly be aware that, under the current State Aid Regulations, small and
medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) which are owned by a larger group are classified as large companies, even
in circumstances where the parent group treats such branch plants as separate cost/profit centres and often
requires them to fund their own investment. Accordingly, any public assistance made available to them is
limited to a maximum of EUR 100 000 over a three-year period.

The Commission will, no doubt, also be aware that the events of September 11 have exacerbated the
slowdown in the global economy with serious consequences for manufacturing industry, especially SMEs,
in Britain and across Europe as a whole.

In view of these circumstances, will the Commission now agree to order an urgent review of the State Aid
Regulations, particularly the way in which they impact on SMEs owned by a larger group? In addition, will
the Commission now revise the EUR 100 000 limit on public assistance to large companies that was first
imposed in 1996?

Answer given by Mr Monti on behalf of the Commission

(3 December 2001)

The criterion of independence is one of the key elements of the Commission definition of small and
medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) (1). A company which is owned or controlled by a larger company cannot
be considered an SME since that ownership or control means the enterprise company does not suffer from
the handicaps, notably in terms of access to finance, which apply to independent SMEs. In particular, the
larger company is at any time free to change the arrangements for the funding of investments for the
smaller company.

Although large enterprises are not eligible to receive State aid for investment or for employment creation
outside of the assisted areas, it is not so that public assistance to such companies is limited to € 100 000
over three years. Thus, for example, large companies are eligible to receive regional aid for investments in
the assisted areas, aid for research and development and training aid in accordance with the detailed
conditions laid down in the Commission’s State aid rules.

The € 100 000 limit to which the Honourable Member refers is the the amount at which public assistance
granted to any single enterprise, outside of certain sensitive sectors such as transport and agriculture, is
considered not to constitute State aid within the meaning of Article 87 (ex Article 92) (1) of the EC Treaty.
The Commission reviewed this limit in 2000 and decided not to increase it (2).

(1) OJ L 107, 30.4.1996.

(2) Commission Regulation (EC) 69/2001 of 12 January 2001 on the application of Articles 87 (ex Article 92) and 88
(ex Article 93) of the EC Treaty to de minimis aid, OJ L 10, 13.1.2001.

(2002/C 115 E/251) WRITTEN QUESTION E-3148/01

by Jaime Valdivielso de Cué (PPE-DE) to the Commission

(14 November 2001)

Subject: Fishing

On 30 October, French fishermen blocaded the port of La Rochelle and prevented 37 Spanish fishing
vessels from unloading their catch, whilst the French authorities just looked on passively.