The European Commission has found that a Lithuanian scheme aimed at boosting the information technology (ICT) sector in Lithuania is in line with EU state aid rules. In particular, the Commission has concluded that the measure contributes to EU cohesion policy objectives by furthering the development of Lithuania's less advantaged regions without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market.
In March 2014, Lithuania notified plans to support companies investing in the ICT sector as part of its efforts to support and develop the modern technology branch of the Lithuanian national economy. As electricity prices are relatively high in Lithuania, the scheme allows for reductions in the electricity bill for companies that are active in data processing, web servers (hosting) and related activities and that have committed to invest in Lithuania. Under Lithuania's regional aid map, the whole territory is eligible for regional aid (see IP/06/1451). The estimated total budget of the scheme until 30 June 2014 is LTL 124,300,800 (around €36 million).
The Commission assessed the measure under the currently applicable Regional Aid Guidelines 2007-2013, which set out the conditions under which Member States can grant state aid to businesses for regional development purposes (seeIP/05/1653, application extended until 30 June 2014, see IP/13/569). The Commission found in particular that the scheme makes an important contribution to a coherent regional development strategy in Lithuania, in line with EU objectives. Moreover, the scheme's duration and budget is limited and the size of eligible projects is also restricted. In addition, the investments linked to the scheme are expected to further the development of fibre optics networks, improving Lithuania's connectivity to European fibre infrastructure. The Commission therefore concluded that on balance the positive aspects of the scheme outweigh any potential distortions of competition resulting from the state support.
The non-confidential version of this decision will be made available under the case number SA.38488 in the State Aid Register on the competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved. New publications of state aid decisions on the internet and in the Official Journal are listed in the State Aid Weekly e-News.