On 12 December 2017, the European Commission published an analytical grid for sport and multifunctional recreational infrastructures. With this guidance the Commission provides an overview for public authorities and sport organisations to identify when public funding can be granted without approval under EU State aid rules.
The European Commission has an exclusive competence to exercise a prior control over State Aid to ensure that the Member States do not disturb competition and trade within the Internal Market. However, the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER), adopted by the EU in 2014, and updated in 2017, offers several possibilities for Member States to provide public support for certain categories of state aid without prior Commission approval, including for sport infrastructure.
Funding for construction, renovation and operation of “sport infrastructure” such as stadiums, multifunctional arenas, sport and wellness facilities, marinas, and climbing halls fall under State Aid rules if the structures are used on commercial basis and thereby has an economic impact. At the same time, there are several options in which the existence of state aid may be excluded:
Additionally, there are two conditions under which state aid might be considered compatible with the internal market without notification:
If the state aid meets none of these conditions, it requires notification to the Commission, which assesses it either under Article 107(3)(c) TFEU (taking into account Article 165 TFEU) or on the basis of the SGEI Framework, for State aid for sport infrastructure which is necessary for the provision of a genuine SGEI and exceeds EUR 15 million per year.
The detailed information, as well as references to past state aid decisions on sport infrastructure can be found in the document attached below.
On 4 December 2017, the European Commission furthermore published a decision approving the reform of a scheme supporting the horseracing sector in Denmark under EU State aid rules. The sector for horserace betting in Denmark is currently subject to a gambling monopoly but is being liberalised, which will allow the emergence of betting companies. Under the scheme, as of 1 January 2018, the horseracing sector will receive a share of the turnover of betting companies from horserace betting through an 8% levy. The Commission has endorsed the reformed scheme, because it recognises that it is essential for the improvement of horse breeding and horseracing without giving rise to undue distortions of competition.