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There is a risk that the Central System of Registers of State Aids will be put under-functioning – Bell by the Superintendent

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<p data-block-key=Concern about the severe understaffing of her Office at “a time when the demands of the European Commission are increasing rapidly” and the risk of the Central System of State Aid Registers is under-functioning, states State Aid Control Supervisor Stella Michailidou.

At the same time, he emphasizes that, despite the understaffing, the Office has not only achieved its goals but has exceeded them, while at the same time highlighting the culture of state aid to the competent authorities.

Specifically, in statements to the KYPE, Ms. Michailidou said that “in the context of the recent State aid modernization of the EU, powers are decentralized and the burden as well as the power now falls on the member state, since the respective Commissioner is called upon to approve, on his own of, decisions of millions of euros, based on the Exemption by Category Regulations”.

“The Office has been operating for more than 20 years and it is only recently that the culture of state aid began to be built and consolidated, but under extremely difficult conditions, due to severe understaffing since the staff is reduced and this becomes more difficult at a time when the demands of the European Commission are growing rapidly”, he underlined.

He stated that “the operation and staffing of the Office is at the mercy of bureaucracy and regulations and the Office is trapped in the promise it has made of upgraded service to the competent authorities resulting in enormous pressure”.

“But we feel proud as a team because together we are doing our best to meet the level of service we have promised to the Competent Authorities”, he added.

Also, the Superintendent of State Aid Control expressed concern, because “due to this understaffing and dependence on factors beyond our control, the Central State Aid Register System is in danger of being underpowered”.

“For now, we will continue to be patient and insist on speeding up the procedures to solve the problems we are facing, but always with the promise that we will keep the high level of service to all the competent authorities”, he pointed out.

He added that the Office is “an independent authority, which has the responsibility to check that the state money given to beneficiaries exercising economic activity is given in a way that is compatible with European Legislation in order not to distort competition between member states” .

He also said that “the European Commission has requirements from our Office for the implementation of the regulations, the guidelines of the legislative frameworks, and in addition there is a huge bureaucracy with the submission of various statements and data that are constantly requested by the EU, which we, in turn, ask all the competent authorities”.

“We have an obligation as an Office to check that these legislative frameworks are respected by the respective competent authorities and that all these data we receive from the authorities are channeled to the EU correctly and within the deadlines”, he underlined.

The State Aid Audit Commissioner said that “it is here that the value and purpose of the Office is not yet being addressed to the extent and in the way it should be, particularly considering its contribution to the economy and the role and importance it plays in the European Commission”.

Objectives achieved but not enough          

Asked if in her three years in the position of State Aid Control Commissioner she has achieved the goals she set, Mrs. Michaelidou told KYPE that “in an environment in which we had to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, war conflicts, and all serious and unprecedented consequences of those caused internally and in the economy in general, in order to process every action of our Office, much more time and a thorough analysis of all data was required”.

He added that it was also necessary to communicate more frequently with the European Commission and with all the competent authorities, the Ministries, in order to have the corresponding and necessary coordination, but also to carry out the relevant training of the officials.

< p data-block-key="edchi">It was also important, according to the Commissioner, “that there had to be the flexibility to adapt to all the changes in the existing legislative frameworks of the European Commission as well as to adopt the new ones that had been issued to deal with of crises”.

“Our goals are always there and we know them first, but many times we are forced to adapt to new data and achieve these goals, either with new tools or with a new strategy,” he added.

“Despite the above, I humbly report to you that we have not only achieved our goals, we have exceeded them,” he underlined.

In relation to the goals that have been achieved, Mrs. Michailidou told KYPE that “we have managed through training to highlight the culture of state aid to the competent authorities, which was our most important goal”.

“We have implemented – and it has been working since 1/1/2022 – the a' phase of the Central System of Registers of State Aids and De minimis Aids and we have succeeded in becoming a model for the European Commission and for the other member states, since we have taken the lead for this and we have become an example to follow”, he added.

He also said that “we have managed to be in the final stage of filling the positions of the Office's organizational chart that were announced from 2019”.

“We have also achieved various other goals such as the extroversion of the Office, better quality and more direct service to the competent authorities, based on the control that is done for improvement and guidance and finding solutions to the issues of the competent authorities”, concluded the Superintendent.

Source: KYPE

Source: reporter.com.cy

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