This Study aims at making a comprehensive overview of the EU State aid rules and their impact on SMEs in the period 2014-2018 with the goal to identify which policy issues create the greatest challenges for SMEs (incl. social partners and NGOs), and what are the best practices available to tackle the issues.
The Study is prepared on the basis of a literature review, survey among relevant stakeholders from the 27 EU MSs and five case studies from countries, chosen on the basis of objective methodology, as to showcase both problematic areas and best practices - namely Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Italy and Finland.
The results demonstrate that despite the efforts for modernization, EU State aid rules still pose some challenges and are not completely clear for both Managing Authorities and business in many MSs. Difficulties are encountered in many MSs regarding the way State aid rules are applied in terms of SME financing. In many cases, lack of sufficient expertise is detected, in terms of both the preparation and experience of the experts responsible for the application of the State aid rules and in terms of their number in the MSs' administrations. Efforts to improve the current rules are needed, such as raise the thresholds and clarify specific definitions. There is a need for EC to provide regular opportunities for exchange of experience and best practices between MSs.