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France’s nearly one billion euro state aid program approved by EU Commission

The Finnish government has taken the stance that the EU’s crisis aid should be temporary. In response, the European Commission has suggested a joint financial instrument of the EU as a possible solution to state aid competition. On Wednesday, the European Commission approved a 900 million euro French state aid program to support companies investing in biomass and renewable hydrogen for energy and fuel production. This program falls under the crisis and transition period state support framework.

The EU has temporarily relaxed its state aid rules, with the crisis flexibilities valid until the end of June and transitional period flexibilities valid until the end of 2025. The French aid program involves direct grants covering eligible investment costs to support companies moving towards a zero-emissions economy while ensuring fair competition opportunities in the internal market.

Former Prime Minister of Italy Enrico Letta is set to report on the future of the internal market at an extraordinary summit in April. Meanwhile, Finland’s Confederation of Business and Industry (EK) has called for new tools to compete for green and digital investments. EK hopes that Finland will form a position on how Europe can attract strategic investments in this area.

Flexibilities in state aid rules have been extended after 2022 to support Europe’s green transition, with subsidies available for low-carbon initiatives and renewable energy. Options for new tools include forming a financial instrument within the EU to improve Europe’s investment competitiveness or implementing tough competition for state aid instead. CEO of EK Jyri Häkämies has suggested creating a European fund as a better option than tough competition for state aid.

By Samantha Jones

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