§ Mr. Trippier
Private firms can qualify for aid under different sections of the European regional development fund.
Under the steel, shipbuilding and textile programmes drawn up under the specific Community measures section, aid is available to firms located in the eligible areas which employ less than 200 people and are engaged in manufacturing or certain services sectors. Firms in the steel, shipbuilding and textile and clothing industries are excluded unless they are diversifying into new activities.
Under Articles 17 to 23 of the new ERDF regulation, aid may be awarded in respect of private sector industrial investment projects in 'aided areas' which satisfy the criteria and receive regional aid from the Government. In this case the ERDF receipts are not passed on to the company in addition to the United Kingdom regional aid (which is already the minimum required to enable the project to proceed) but retained by the Government as a partial repayment of its own aid, which is thus at a higher overall level than would otherwise be possible.
In very limited circumstances a private firm may qualify for aid from the project financing section of the fund in respect of infrastructure projects but only if it is responsible for such infrastructure in the same way as a public authority.