The Competence of the Office for the Protection of Competition in the Area of State Aid
With effect from the date of accession of the Czech Republic to the EU, the competence to assess the compatibility of State Aid with the commont market was taken over by the European Commission. At the same time the Act No. 215/2004 Coll., on Regulation of Relations in the Area of State Aid and on Amendment to the Act on the support of Research and Development came into force. The Act modifies the role of the Office in the area of State Aid, rights and duties of providers and beneficiaries of State Aid towards the Office and some another relations in connection with provision of State Aid. The Act does not apply to agriculture and fisheries sectors.
The Office is the central coordination, advisory, consulting and monitoring authority in the area of State Aid. The Office has an important role in the notification procedure as it co-operates with both the State Aid providers and the Commission and sends the notification forms to the Commission by electronic transmission. The aim of co-operation with the State Aid providers is to ensure that the notification form is duly prepared in accordance with the Commission Regulation No. 794/2004 implementing Council Regulation No. 659/1999 laying down detailed rules for the application of Article 93 of the EC Treaty, and that the relevant documents are enclosed to it so that the notification could be regarded as complete and the Commission could initiate preliminary examination of the notification and take its decision.
The Act furthermore obliges the Office to maintain a register of all granted aids in the Czech Republic and to submit to the Commission annual reports on all existing aid schemes. The Office also controls observance of the enforceable State Aid decisions made by the Office under legislation applicable before the accesion to the EU and decides on imposition of penalties pursuant to this Act.
The Act lays down the following obligations:
- for the providers of the State Aid:
- to provide the Office with information about all State Aids granted in the previous year and information about the State Aid schemes
- to provide the Office with the duplicates of all documents submitted to the Commission within the framework of formal procedures (procedures concerning notified aids, unlawful aids, misuse of aid, existing aid and aid schemes, on-site monitoring regarding the notified aids). This obligation is fulfiled with sending of the notification forms by electronic transmission.
- for the beneficiaries of the State Aid:
- to offer the Office co-operation needed in the case the Commission is carrying out an on-site monitoring visit at the territory of the Czech Republic
- to provide the Office upon its written request, within the set deadline, with all documents and information concerning the State Aid.
In case of violation of the above-mentioned obligations, the Office is entitled to impose on the provider and the beneficiary of the State Aid a fine up to 1% of the amount of State Aid provided.