The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise has submitted comments to the ongoing consultations on the roadmap for the revision of the IPCEI Communication, which is addressing the European Commission’s Communication on State Aid for important projects of common European interest.
According to the Commission, the Communication needs to be revised due to newly introduced objectives within the EU, such as the Green Deal, the industrial strategy, the digitisation strategy and the EU’s Next Generation recovery package. The revision will focus on clarifying certain concepts and providing guidance on specific criteria, facilitating the participation of SMEs and increasing projects’ openness and compatibility with EU objectives.
We believe that a review of the Communication is both welcome and appropriate, and the points made by the Commission seem to be moving in the right direction. As such, IPCEI projects may be effective in as much that they address real market failures and in areas where other State Aid rules have proved ineffective. However, the high levels of state aid and the possibility of providing state aid at a later phase in the commercialisation of research undertaken means that the risk of distortions of competition are significant. To date, the regulations have led to excessively long, administratively burdensome and costly approval processes coupled with a lack of transparency. All this shows that the use of the regulations should continue to be selective and done so in moderation.
Easing participation for SMEs is a welcome ambition, as it can provide greater efficiency, reduce the risk of distortions or discrimination, and potentially improve dissemination of results. Crucial to the success of any ambition of including more SMEs will be to increase the clarity of the regulations, improve the transparency and predictability of the application process and to introduce some kind of increased legal aid for participating companies.
Finally, it is claimed that the transparency of the projects will increase - this is also both welcome and essential. Increased transparency throughout the entire chain is needed, from the selection of projects and the participating companies, through the entire application process to decisions and all the way to how the projects are evaluated.