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New GBER public aid rules in force since July

At the end of June, the European Commission officially issued an amendment to the GBER, aiming to simplify and streamline the provision of aid for the EU's green and digital transition. Below, we summarise the most important changes.

For many years, the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER) has been the basic legislative framework for the provision of permissible public aid in the EU. Under the GBER rules, individual member states can grant national public support (such as investment incentives or subsidies) without having to apply for individual exemptions. The Czech Republic can thus define specific support programmes based on the GBER parameters.

The amended GBER has been in force since the beginning of July this year and will be effective until the end of 2026. Its wording is already available in the official languages of all EU member states. The preparation of the consolidated regulation is expected to take place in the autumn of this year. 

The amendment increases the threshold for the mandatory notification of the European Commission of investment projects from the original EUR 100 million to EUR 110 million. This is in response to significant price increases in inputs and related inflation. The threshold for determining the aid intensity in individual regions of cohesion of the Czech Republic has increased accordingly, from the original EUR 50 million to EUR 55 million.

In research and development, the amendment introduces a few simplifications, including an increase in the maximum aid limits and an increase in aid for projects with international cooperation. Projects to support testing and experimental infrastructure are now also included.

The amendment to the GBER also introduces another exemption, allowing member states to regulate the prices of energy (electricity, gas and heat produced using natural gas or electricity), thus building on selected provisions of the Temporary Crisis and Transformation Framework for high energy prices.

A significant increase in aid will also be provided to many activities in the environmental and energy sectors aimed at introducing renewable energy sources, electromobility, decarbonisation and renewable hydrogen-based technologies, and increasing energy efficiency. The amendment will have the most significant impact on environmental aid, with increases in the aid intensity itself and in the thresholds for mandatory notification, and with the introduction of aid for completely new measures:

  • The GBER now also considers hydrogen a renewable energy source, under certain circumstances. Therefore, investments in equipment and technologies using hydrogen but also in infrastructure for its transport, etc., can receive support. In addition, renewable hydrogen and high-efficiency cogeneration of heat and electricity can also receive investment support.
  • In environmental area, the amendment makes it possible to increase the aid intensity, which also applies to studies and advisory services in the environmental protection and energy, or projects focused on the circular economy. Support can now also be provided in the form of relief from environmental taxes at the local level.
  • A major innovation is the investment support for the acquisition of clean or zero-emission vehicles for road, rail, inland waterways, and maritime transport, etc.