The R&D&I State aid Framework revamped in 2007, represented a major improvement over its precedessor frameworks in 1986 and 1996 in several aspects. It was built on the basis of a new architecture for the assessment of State aid cases, significantly widened the possibilities for granting State aid for research, development and innovation, and introduced a more refined economic approach. State aid assessment was made proportional to the problem at stake and simplified for smaller and less distortive aid. With a view to further simplify the granting of R&D&I aid, a large part of the Framework was included in the GBER (General Block Exemption Regulation) in 2008, thereby making possible for Member States to support R&D&I investments without prior notification to the Commission. Clear provisions on funding of research organisations and on aid to R&D projects were introduced. Additionally, a set of innovation measures were included for the first time.
Although the R&D&I Framework is applicable until 31 December 2013, it foresees a mid-term review three years after their entry into force. Case practice has shown that the current rules generally constitute an effective and flexible instrument to allow for well-targeted public support for R&D&I and in the field of risk capital. However, this flexibility seems not to be used by Member States to its full extent and the mid-term review should in particular raise awareness of the multiple possibilities allowed for public support of all forms of research and innovation.
In addition, the mid-term review should reply to a number of questions of interpretation from stakeholders, which have often been dealt with in the context of individual decisions. The mid-term review should be also seen as an opportunity to reflect on the contribution of the R&D&I State aid rules to the EU innovation goals in order to further promote private investment in R&D, smarter public investment and overall innovation as a first step in the preparation of the revision of the R&D&I Framework in 2013.
The mid-term review of the R&D&I Framework will be conducted in 2011 and will take the form of a Staff working document.
In December 2010, DG COMP published the mid-term review of the Risk Capital Guidelines and decided to introduce into the Risk Capital Guidelines the temporary increase of the safe harbour tranche of finance per target SME from EUR 1.5 million to EUR 2.5 million included previously in the State aid Temporary Framework.