14 March 2023

The European Commission has endorsed a targeted amendment to the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) with the aim of facilitating, simplifying, and speeding up support for the green and digital transitions in the European Union. 

This regulation provides exceptions to article 108(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which requires all State aid to get notified and approved in advance by the EC. The GBER removes this obligation for national grants under certain categories, considering that they don’t compromise free competition in the Single Market, which contributes to speeding up the granting of those aids. 

In particular, this targeted amendment updates those exception rules to fit the new EU guidelines and objectives regarding the green and digital transitions, while also setting the right foundations to contribute to the recovery of the European economy after the coronavirus pandemic, the high energy prices and Russia’s war against Ukraine. 

Together with the new Temporary Crisis and Transition Framework, the regulation will facilitate Member States the implementation of new measures in sectors that are key for the transition and competitiveness of an European net-zero industry, as well as for accelerating the European Green Deal’s climate neutrality goal. These objectives are in line with the Green Deal Industrial Plan, which was presented last month by the EC. 

The GBER will be formally adopted in the coming weeks, after it has been translated into all official languages in the EU, and will enter into force on the day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. 

Which specific aid categories are being fostered? 

In particular, the revised rules allow: 

  • To increase and facilitate grants addressing the rollout of renewable energydecarbonisation projects, green mobility and biodiversity, as well as the investment in renewable hydrogen and the increase of energy efficiency
  • To increase aid intensities and notification thresholds of certain R&D projects involving beneficiaries in several Member States, such as the Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI)
  • To exempt from notification aids for training and reskilling that go below €3 million. 
  • To facilitate block exempt aid measures set up by Member States to regulate prices for energy, such as electricity, gas and heat produced from natural gas or electricity. 
  • To introduce a significant increase of notification thresholds for environmental and R&D&I aids
  • To clarify and streamline the possibilities for risk finance aid addressing SMEs and start-ups, as well as for financial products supported by the InvestEU Fund

This new regulation also allows alignment with the latest EU guidelines, such as the Regional Aid Guidelines, the Climate, Energy and Environmental State aid Guidelines, the Risk Finance Guidelines, the Research, Development and Innovation Framework and the Broadband Guidelines. 

The GBER will be prolonged until the end of 2026 for legal certainty and regulatory stability, and thresholds will be increased even beyond the areas under specific review to cater for the longer period of validity of the rules. 

FI Group has 20 years of experience and wants to accompany you on the new NextGenerationEU path. Our experts are at your disposal to analyse how your project fits into the NextGenerationEU European recovery fund and to take the next steps together with you. Contact us

Marina Marcos 

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