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Monday, July 07, 2008

Positive discrimination part 3

The Commission has published a proposal today on reforming state aid rules. The proposal basically lengthens the list of types of state aid which the Commission will wave through without having to see first. Or as they put it.

The 26 state aid measures which fulfil the conditions laid down in the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) are considered to be compatible with state aid rules without requiring prior notification to the Commission.

Intriguingly, one of the new rules is that state aid to female entrepreneurs is going to be waved through:

The Commission integrated into the GBER five types of aid which had so far not been block exempted, but which feature highly in the Commission's agenda for growth and jobs, the revamped Lisbon agenda: aid favouring environmental protection, aid in the form of risk capital, research and development aid for large companies, innovation aid, aid for newly created small enterprises and aid for enterprises newly created by female entrepreneurs. The exemption conditions for these categories are largely inspired by the requirements of the guidelines and frameworks adopted, since 2006, by the Commission.

Is that legal? As we noted before, Article 141(4) of the treaties allows member states to take action in employment law to boost whichever sex is under represented in a particular sector. But can the EU legislate positive discrimination for one sex across the board?

Answers on a postcard.

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