Brussels, 3 June 2022
The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a €276 million Dutch scheme to promote the acquisition of land for sustainable nature conservation. The scheme replaces an existing scheme supporting land purchase for nature conservation, which was approved by the Commission in July 2011 (SA.31243).
The aim of the scheme is to establish a network of natural areas, while connecting them also to nearby agricultural lands. Moreover, the scheme will contribute to the creation of nature areas that will ensure the conservation and protection of biodiversity and liveability in the Netherlands. Under the scheme, the support will take the form of direct grants compensating sustainable nature management operators for the provision of a service of general economic interest (‘SGEI’), namely the acquisition of land with the aim to convert it into nature areas. The scheme will compensate up to 100% of the reduction in the value of the land, resulting from the conversion into natural areas, calculated on the basis of an independent report. The scheme will run until 31 December 2027.
The Commission assessed the scheme under the EU State aid rules, and in particular under Article 106(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as well as the rules on public service compensation, under the SGEI Framework. The Commission found that the compensation is limited in time and will not exceed the costs of the public service mission entrusted to the nature management operators.
Furthermore, the Commission concluded the measure is aimed at the promotion of a genuine SGEI and the entrustment for land acquisition is in line with the rules on public service compensation. On this basis, the Commission approved the scheme under EU State aid rules. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under case number SA.64168 in the State aid register on the Commission’s competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.
Source: European Commission – Email