In addition to an earlier review of Serbian antitrust and merger control, here is also a short overview of the developments in Serbian State aid during 2017 – in eight questions and answers.
1. How active was the Serbian State aid authority?
During 2017, the Serbian Commission for the Control of State Aid rendered 39 decisions in total: in 34 instances it approved the examined aid while in the remaining five cases it found that no State aid was involved. There were no findings of incompatibility of aid.
2. What was more common: aid examined ex ante or ex post?
Ex ante proceedings were more common, though during 2017 there were a lot of ex post proceedings as well. Specifically, out of 39 State aid decisions in total, the Serbian State aid watchdog rendered 22 decisions in ex ante proceedings and in the remaining 17 cases the (potential) aid was examined ex post.
3. What was the total amount of approved aid?
During 2017, the Serbian State aid watchdog approved approx. EUR 370 million of State aid. This amount should be taken with caution, though: first, in some cases the Commission did not clearly state the amount of approved aid, and second, some of the approved aid spans over a period of more than one year and does not pertain only to 2017.
4. What was the highest amount of approved aid?
The highest amount by far was aid to the Serbian railways, concerning the service of general economic interest (railway passenger transport). The Serbian State aid Commission approved approx. EUR 167 million of aid to the railways, for the period 2017-2021. Approx. EUR 27 million of that amount pertains to the aid in 2017.
Looking only at aid for 2017, the highest approved amount was for a scheme of State support to investors, in the amount of approx. EUR 92.5 million. In State aid terms, this is regional aid.
5. Were there more schemes or individual aid?
State aid schemes were more common during 2017. Specifically, out of 34 State aid decisions on the merits, 24 pertained to schemes and 10 to individual aid.
6. What was the State aid instrument most commonly used?
By far, the most commonly used instrument of State aid were subsidies: out of 34 State aid approvals, as many as 28 involved subsidies. Other used instruments include state-backed guarantees and disposal of real estate at a lower-than-the-market value.
7. Who featured as the grantor of State aid?
In 2017, State aid was most commonly awarded by local self-government units (municipalities): out of 34 approved State aid awards, 17 were by various municipalities. Apart from municipalities, in a significant number of cases (7) the aid was granted by various ministries.
Concerning who is not a grantor of State aid in the view of the Serbian State aid Commission, see an earlier text on the case of the Serbian Peaky Blinders.
8. Which category of State aid dominated?
The highest number of State aid decisions (18) pertained to horizontal aid, specifically for culture. There were 12 decisions which pertained to regional aid (for investment) and 4 decisions concerning the provision of services of general economic interest.
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