State aid is a European Commission (EC) term which refers to forms of public assistance, given to undertakings on a discretionary basis, which has the potential to distort competition and affect trade between Member States of the European Union.
The state aid rules are set by the EC and comprise various articles of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), Regulations, Frameworks and Guidelines - which set out what aid can be given and under which circumstances. The EC governs Member State compliance with these rules and many aid measures must be notified to the Commission for approval.
As a public body, HIE can grant state aid through an umbrella of state aid schemes known as the General Block Exemption, other approved schemes and also De Minimis aid. As such we have a large toolkit of support to offer State aid to businesses and other organisations.
We will first assess each project for its potential to aid development against our policies for the Highlands and Islands, and if financial assistance is appropriate, an assessment will then be made as to whether the assistance would constitute State aid in terms of the EU Treaty. Having made this assessment, it is then possible to ensure that any proposed assistance will comply with state aid law, so that the most correct and efficient package of assistance can be devised with the minimum risk of state aid procedures affecting the applicant.