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State aid — important projects of common European interest

State aid — important projects of common European interest



Communication on criteria for analysing the compatibility of state aid for important projects with the internal market


As state aid may give recipients an unfair advantage over their competitors, the objective of state aid control is to prevent such distortions. This European Commission communication aims to give guidance for the assessment under the EU’s state aid (public subsidies) rules in regard to the public financing of Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEIs).

IPCEIs tend to be projects that address important market or systemic failures and societal challenges that would not be otherwise addressed.


  • 1.

    Eligibility criteria

A project:

  • has to be of common European interest (i.e. meet one or more EU objectives (e.g. European Research Area, Trans-European Energy or Transport Networks, Innovation Union, Digital Agenda for Europe, etc.);
  • must have a significant impact on competitiveness, sustainable growth, address social challenges or create value across the EU;
  • must involve more than one EU country and benefits must extend to a substantial part of the EU;
  • must benefit not simply the parties involved but society and/or economy as a whole through clearly identifiable positive spill-over effects (measurable benefits for citizens and/or other sectors of the economy).

To qualify as IPCEI, a project should either be particularly large in size or scope and/or imply a high level of risk or financial engagement.

  • 2.

    Compatibility criteria

Factors such as the following are taken into account:

  • Necessity and proportionality of the aid
    • The aid must not subsidise costs of a project that would have been undertaken anyhow and must not compensate for normal business risk.
    • The project should include a contribution by the beneficiaries and/or other private investors to the financing of the project.
  • Prevention of undue distortions of competition and balancing test
    • Aid will not be approved if it is possible to achieve the same result using less distortive policy or aid measures.
    • Any negative effects of the aid on competition or on trade between EU countries must be limited and outweighed by the positive contribution to the common European interest objective.


The criteria in this communication apply from 1 July 2014 to 31 December 2020.

For more information, see:


Communication from the Commission — Criteria for the analysis of the compatibility with the internal market of State aid to promote the execution of important projects of common European interest (OJ C 188, 20.6.2014, pp. 4-12)

last update 24.05.2019