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26/09/2016

Spanish promotion of regional languages did not breach state aid rules

Languages & Culture

Spanish promotion of regional languages did not breach state aid rules

The Commission cleared Spain of illegally funding projects intended to promote the country's regional languages, one of which is Basque, spoken by just over 700,000 people.

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The European Commission cleared Spain on Tuesday (21 September) of any wrongdoing after investigating its granting of public subsidies to regional language schemes. EurActiv Spain reports.

Brussels has confirmed that Spain has not fallen foul of the EU’s stringent state aid rules, after an investigation was carried out into how the Iberian nation had provided small-scale enterprises public money.

One case that the Commission had a hard look at was the granting of funds to promote the use of the Basque language, by supporting local newspapers and collaborative projects in the province of Gipuzkoa in north-east Spain.

Given the regional nature of the grants, the small scale and the low sums on offer, the executive ruled that that it was highly unlikely that the subsidies would have anything more than “a marginal impact” on cross-border investments or other media companies.

Another case saw the Commission investigate whether state-aid rules had been broken by another language scheme, this time focused on promoting Valencian, a variety of Catalan.

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Spain had granted money to some projects that are involved with producing written and digital publications completely in Valencian; again, the Commission found that the small-scale and the geographical isolation meant there were no competition concerns.

“In many cases member states can stimulate investment without asking the Commission. These decisions confirm that many local public support measures do not constitute state aid,” said European Commissioner for Competition, Margrethe Vestager. She added that 90% of all state aid measures can be decided by the member states themselves.

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