This DWF article sets out information about how to satisfy the relevant obligations and will be of interest to Public Sector organisations and beneficiaries of aid who want to ensure that their funding is compliant. Please get in touch if you would like more detail or to discuss this or other aspects of State aid law.
What is the Transparency Award Module?
The 'Transparency Award Module' is a European Commission online system for placing in the public domain certain awards of State aid. Note this is very different to notifying a proposed award to the European Commission by way of a request for individual exemption.
Who declares aid under the Transparency Award Module?
Normally, the information is submitted to the Transparency Award Module by the body awarding the State aid. The information is reviewed by the national State aid coordination unit and thereafter sent to the European Commission. Failure to comply with compatibility conditions puts the beneficiary at risk of recovery of the value of the State aid with compound interest. As a result there is a strong imperative for all parties to ensure that the Transparency Award Module requirements are met.
Which exemptions require information to be published on the Transparency Award Module?
It is a condition of compliance under Article 9 (Publication and information) each of the General Block Exemption Regulation, Fisheries and Aquaculture Block Exemption Regulation and Agricultural Block Exemption Regulation to declare certain information to the Commission using the Transparency Award Module.
Under paragraph 25 of the UK Temporary Framework scheme, Covid-19 Temporary Framework for UK authorities (SA.56841) information about awards must also be uploaded through the Transparency Award Module.
What information must be declared?
The key information placed on the Transparency Award Module includes:
SA case number or title: This is the reference to the aid measure already published – either the State Aid number or the title of the aid measure (if any).
Identity of the Beneficiary: This is either the EU-wide VAT number or the most appropriate national identifier recognising the legal entity receiving the aid. If a national identifier is used, the user must first type in the ID and then select the corresponding national identifier type from a list. The list of national identifier type is pre-filled with the list of relevant type of IDs specified by relevant national authorities. It is not possible to type in manually a new national identifier type.
Beneficiary type: This indicates the type of enterprise (SME/large) of the legal entity receiving the aid at the time of granting.
Region: This indicates the region in which the beneficiary is located. If the grantholder is located in more than one county within the UK, then enter “UK”.
Sector: This is the sector of activity or economic sector concerned (for example, manufacturing, retail, or hospitality and leisure).
Aid Instrument: This is the aid instrument corresponding to the granted aid award (for example, grant, loan, guarantee, tax advantage etc)
Objective: This is the main objective (for example, for research and development or regional development) followed by the corresponding granted aid award.
Date Granted: The date of granting is the date when the legal right to receive the aid is conferred on the beneficiary.
Currency: This is the currency in which the advantage of the aid award is granted.
Nominal Amount: This is the nominal amount of the Aid expressed as full amount, i.e. not in millions. For loans and guarantees it must be different than the granted amount since the gross grant equivalent must be reported as an aid element.
Aid element / Granted Amount: This is the Aid element expressed as full amount, i.e. not in millions. The gross grant equivalent has to be reported for loans and guarantees.
Granting Authority Name: This is the authority granting the aid award at whatever level of government (national, regional or local).
Co-Financing: This is a tick box to demonstrate any other public funds.
What is the process for declaring information?
Using a log in code, the funding body normally inputs the information on to the Transparency Award Module website. Once the information is finalised it is checked and, if satisfactory, approved by the national coordination unit. Approval by the Commission results in publication of the aid award on the public website.
Can an aid award's information be modified once published?
If there is an exceptional need to update or delete existing aid awards, a member of the National, Regional, Sectorial and Granting Authority office who has been designated as administrator can make changes. However the expectation is that the public sector body will publish the information in good time. If a retrospective declaration needs to be made or information changed then this will need to be justified. We therefore advise our clients to collect the information at the point of award and to obtain log in details for the Transparency Award Module when setting up a new public funding programme.
DWF Law LLP has a breadth of expertise in State aid law matters. We are able to draw upon a team of leading experts based in offices in the UK, Brussels and many other locations. Our team has extensive experience in this area including working in DG Competition on the drafting of the General Block Exemption Regulation and within Central Government.