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ACCA: time for change for SGEI state Aid rules - Clarification, proportionality and simplification of the state aid rules for Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) are urgently needed, says global accountancy body


04 Oct 2011


Euro & Finance

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is broadly supportive of the European Commission’s move towards more clarification and simplification in the scope of state aid for SGEI. The global accountancy body, which is a member of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Public Services, believes that key concepts such as the application and conditions of state aid approval, the introduction of a diversified and proportionate approach to different services and the simplification of the rules for relatively small-scale organisations need to be more clearly defined.

Gillian Fawcett, head of public Sector at ACCA says: "public services and services of general economic interest are currently in the spotlight like never before with governments wanting long-lasting improvements in quality and service delivery. They are critical to the lives and well-being of individuals at all levels in society and make an important contribution to economic development at national, regional and local levels. In this context, a key aspect of the provision of public services is the compensation that public authorities may need to grant the providers of services: so-called ‘state aid’".

ACCA believes that state aid is an important vehicle for securing fair competition and encouraging economic growth across Europe, and therefore supports the European Commission’s ongoing work to revise the rules on compensation for SGEI, which expire in November.

"Let’s be blunt: despite the Altmark ruling, state aid legislation is complicated - this is an area which requires specialist expertise - and is perceived as potentially scary, mainly because of the threat of penalties. It is time for change", Gillian Fawcett states.

She explains: ACCA is, for example, supportive of increasing the de-minimis ceiling for public service compensation and of taking small public services out of the framework. It would allow for a more proportionate approach to be applied to local public services and ease the constraints on small public services that do not present a danger to competition. The exclusion of grants from the scope of this reform to prevent confusion with public procurement rules would also be the sensible thing to do, although this would need to be accompanied by clear guidelines."

The global accountancy body shares the views of numerous stakeholders and of the European Parliament Public Services Intergroup that the expansion of the scope of exemptions would be a welcomed step particularly for those services that are there to support the most vulnerable in society such as social care services.

"However, when it comes to banks, we are concerned that the state aid rules have now been extended beyond 2011 by the European Central Bank, while the temporary framework was originally set to end in 2010.Though critical in supporting financial institutions and stabilizing financial markets in response to the financial crisis,it is important that such institutions are now weaned off state aid as soon as practicably possible", Gillian Fawcett concludes.

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For further information, please contact:

Cecile Bonino

Public Affairs and Media Relations Officer-EU ACCA

tel:+32 (0) 2 286 11 37

mob: +44 (0) 7809595008

Notes to Editors

1. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management.

2. We support our 147,000 members and 424,000 students in 170 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of over 80 offices and centres and more than 8,500 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence.

3. Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.

Cecile Bonino

Public Affairs and Media Relations Officer-EU ACCA

CBI business house

14 rue de la Science

BE-1040 Brussels

tel:+32 (0) 2 286 11 37

mob: +44 (0) 7809595008

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