This study shows that the Almunia package has led to substantial improvements in clarity and legal certainty as regards the provision of SGEIs and state aid. It has achieved the right balance between the need to foster and support SGEIs and the objective of preventing potential distortions in competition. Exemption from notification reduces the administrative costs and complexities that would otherwise face the authorities, in particular those at regional and local level. The compatibility requirements are more flexible, although the benefits can currently be reaped at central level only. Implementation has run smoothly, with the following pre-conditions:
- the entrustment allows other than procurement/concessions logic;
- the calculation of compensation allows other than a Net Avoided Cost (NAC) approach; and
- the concerns with efficiency allow focus on efficiency incentives.
The goal is to gradually concentrate resources at EU level for the scrutiny of those cases of State aid which give rise to particular concerns in relation to competition. Efforts to improve the current rules could thus raise the threshold, include the relevant social SGEIs and avoid placing excessive burden on regional and local authorities. Transparency could be further encouraged and good practice needs to be widely recognised.