De minimis aid under new rules


On January 1, 2014, a new EU regulation on de minimis aid came into force, and along with it, there were changes in this area. First of all, the limit of support for enterprises in the passenger road transport sector increased - from 100,000 to euro up to 200 thousand euro. The definition of a company in a difficult economic situation has also changed, and a complete novelty is the extension of aid to the coal sector.

De minimis aid - what is it?

De minimis aid is public support granted by the state to entrepreneurs on the basis of an aid scheme or as individual aid. It covers many types of action - from EU subsidies, through national support, e.g. in the form of real estate tax exemptions or reliefs in the repayment of civil law liabilities.

What is important in de minimis aid is that the same EU regulations apply to each type of aid, regardless of the basis of which aid scheme it is granted (exceptions are the agricultural production, fisheries and services of general economic interest) . From 1 January 2014, the legal act in force is a new regulation of the European Commission, which introduces significant changes, however - as indicated in the provisions of Regulation 1998/2006 / EC (in force until the end of 2013) - entities granting de minimis aid may grant it based on the old the regulation no later than June 30, 2014, unless the aid scheme expires on December 31, 2013.

Of course, entities granting de minimis aid may also introduce changes to the aid scheme, introducing to it new regulations compliant with the regulation described above, which are more favorable for potential aid recipients.

The issue of de minimis aid limits

Still, the value of de minimis aid per entrepreneur may not exceed PLN 200,000. euro over the next three financial years. What changes the new regulation is the restriction of entities related to the limit of 100,000. euro. Currently, it applies only to entrepreneurs engaged in gainful activities in the field of road transport of goods. In the case of passenger transport, this limit was increased to 200,000. euro.

Who will benefit from de minimis aid?

The aforementioned new regulation on de minimis aid expanded the group of entities that could benefit from this type of support. Pursuant to the regulations in force since 1 January 2014, it is permissible to grant de minimis aid in the coal sector, which was impossible until the end of 2013. Apart from this modification, the catalog of beneficiaries has remained unchanged, therefore economic entities operating, inter alia, in the sector:

  • fisheries and aquaculture,

  • primary production of agricultural products,

  • processing and marketing of agricultural products, if the amount of aid is determined on the basis of the price or quantity of such products purchased from primary producers or placed on the market by the enterprises covered by the aid, or if the granting of aid depends on the fact that it is granted in part or in full to primary producers.

Difficult economic situation

Companies in a difficult economic situation may also face refusal to grant de minimis aid. However, the new regulation contains a changed definition of this concept.For example, a firm will be considered to be in difficulty when:

  • the company's book debt to equity ratio is higher than 7.5,

  • the ratio of the company's profit before taxes and interest (EBIT) to the interest coverage ratio has been below 1.0 for the last two years.

Still, an enterprise that has been in existence for less than three years will not be considered to be in a difficult economic situation, unless it is subject to collective insolvency proceedings.