The European Commission has published its new regional state aid guidelines which will come into force next year and apply until 2013. Regional aid is designed to support the development of poorer areas. The guidelines explain the criteria by which such regions are identified and what the permitted aid ceilings are. The overall policy aim is to re-focus regional aid on the most disadvantaged parts of the recently expanded EU. Under the current guidelines 52,2 per cent of EU's population live in regions eligible for aid. This percentage will be slashed to 43,1 per cent under the new guidelines. No member states will lose more than 50 per cent of their present share of eligibility for aid. Intermediary arrangements have been put in place for those regions that will suffer the biggest reductions in eligibility, or lose eligibility altogether. The latest guidelines introduces new types of benefits to support new business ventures in deprived areas and operating aid to deal with de-population of remote areas.

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