Madeira’s government will appeal European court decision on aid to the Free Trade Zone

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The Regional Government of Madeira announced today that it will appeal against the decision of the General Court of the European Union that upheld the European Commission’s decision that state aid to the Free Trade Zone of this autonomous region is illegal.

“We are going to appeal this decision, because we understand that it is a stupid decision, excuse the term,” Miguel Albuquerque, president of the Regional Government of Madeira, told reporters at the Palácio de Belém, in Lisbon, where he was heard today in his capacity as president of the PSD/Madeira on the date of the next elections for the Madeira parliament.

Miguel Albuquerque argued that “the International Business Center of Madeira is an instrument of internationalization of the regional economy and the national economy, that is, it exists with the state aid in order to provide the diversification of the economy of the region, which has its limitations, and work in the world market.

The Madeira Free Trade Zone covers “a number of companies that operate in the world market”, with headquarters in the region, but that “need to have employees in the markets where they work”, he sustained.

The president of the Regional Government of Madeira therefore contested the principle of “limiting jobs to the physical existence of jobs in the Autonomous Region of Madeira.

“To say that the workers of these companies who work in the international market have to be physically restricted to working in the Autonomous Region of Madeira makes no sense and is exactly the opposite of what we want,” he added.

Miguel Albuquerque said that he is not sure which instance the Regional Government of Madeira will appeal to, but that he has been informed “that these decisions are subject to appeal.

The General Court of the European Union today rejected an appeal filed by Madeira, upholding the European Commission’s decision to consider state aid to the Free Trade Zone of this autonomous region illegal.

The appeal rejected today concerns a European Commission decision of December 4, 2020 according to which the State aid scheme granted to the Madeira Free Trade Zone is incompatible with the rules of the internal market.

This procedure was opened due to doubts by the European Commission regarding the application of tax exemptions on income from activities actually and materially carried out in the autonomous region and regarding the link between the amount of aid and the creation or maintenance of actual jobs in Madeira.

The International Business Center of Madeira, also known as the Free Trade Zone, has more than 2,400 registered companies, which are responsible for 82% of the region’s export volume, generating tax revenues in the order of 100 million euros, and representing around 6,000 direct and indirect jobs.

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