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Changes in rules for granting de minimis aid from 1 January 2024

Last year saw the end of two important state aid regulations: the general regulation on small-scale aid (de minimis regulation) and the regulation on small-scale aid to providers of services of general economic interest (SGEI de minimis regulation). Both were replaced by new European Commission regulations with effect from 1 January 2024.

The most significant change is an increase in the maximum limit of de minimis aid. From this year, member states can grant de minimis aid of up to EUR 300,000 to businesses, compared to the previous EUR 200,000. The de minimis aid limit for SGEI providers (e.g., providers of social, transport or waste management services) has also been increased to EUR 750,000 from the previous EUR 500,000. The increase in the de minimis aid ceiling aims to take account of inflation over the period since the previous regulations entered into force.

Another major change has been made to the method of calculating the three-year period for which the de minimis limit is set: when calculating the three-year period, the three years preceding the date of granting the aid shall now be taken as a basis, not the current and two previous one-year accounting periods (fiscal years), as was previously the case.

The de minimis regulation also introduces a new obligation for member states, as they now must ensure the establishment of a central register of de minimis aid. Unlike under the previous regulation, which left it within the discretion of member states whether to use a central register, member states are now obliged to ensure that such a central register is established. The Czech Republic already uses a central register of small-scale (de minimis) aid, so this obligation is not new. However, the regulation has brought some new requirements, so adjustments will have to be made to the central register in the near future, including related legislative changes.

Both regulations are effective as of 1 January 2024 and are to be in force until 31 December 2030; however, because of the transitional provisions, de minimis aid under the previous regulation versions can still be granted until 30 June 2024. The Czech Republic has already started work on amending the legislation and the central register, so that the new versions of the regulations may be applied as soon as possible.