“So long as this reform supports the objectives of economic, social and territorial cohesion”, stated President Illy
Trieste, Friuli-Venezia-Giulia (I), 11 September 2005
Presidium of the Assembly of European Regions (AER), meeting today in Trieste, Friuli Venezia Giulia (I), has declared itself overall in favour of the European Commission’s proposed ‘State Aid Action Plan’.
‘We share the opinion of the European Commission and of the Member States that the reform of national aid policies, both in terms of scope and procedures, is necessary in order to better meet the challenges of competitiveness and cohesion. We also feel that this reform must consider the increasingly important role of public-private partnerships. The AER supports the Commission in its attempt to simplify and rationalise State Aid policy as suggested in the Action Plan,’ declared Riccardo Illy, President of the AER and of Friuli Venezia Giulia (I), at the end of the meeting.
‘However, the AER wishes to reiterate that this reform must not hamper the principles of economic, social and territorial cohesion. We regret that the territorial aspects were not clearly mentioned in the Commission’s presentation of State Aid in the context of the Lisbon Strategy (p. 7-8 of the Action Plan),’ added Riccardo Illy.
‘In order to avoid a geographical concentration of assistance, which would have the negative effect of artificially distorting competition between regions eligible for State Aid and those non-eligible, we propose the introduction of regional differentiation in the context of horizontal aids ,’ he concluded.
The AER further declares itself satisfied with the measures relating to the financing of public services, as suggested by the Commission, in particular the exemption from the requirement of prior notification for smaller airports. ‘These provisions will facilitate the sound functioning of smaller airports, which have less human potential than bigger airports to face the administrative burden created by prior notification requirements, but which nonetheless play a key role for economic, social and territorial cohesion in the EU,’ stressed Håkan Sandgren, Vice-President of the AER’s ‘Regional Policy’ Committee and Regional Councillor of Jönköping (S). ‘We are pleased the Commission has followed our repeated proposals on this issue. We request, however, that regional airports with a higher number of passengers also benefit from this exemption. We should therefore continue to work on the Commission’s guidelines on regional airports, published on 6th September 2005. It is imperative that the final text takes into account the special role of regional airports,’ he added.
The AER is also closely following the Commission’s revised proposal on land public transport services and awaits the announced additional proposals regarding social and health services of general interest.
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