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The total prohibition of state aids is impossible. Moreover, in certain cases governments have to intervene and provide funds for certain economic activities. As a result, the Treaty establishes a series of exemptions for aids which are regarded as compatible with the internal market.
In recent years, the Commission has initiated a process for the modernization and simplification of the procedures relating to state aids, as a result of which, in 2008, the European Commission approved the General Regulation of Exemption by Categories (GREC), in accordance with which numerous state aids are excused from the obligation of being notified to the Commission. The introduction of the GREC constitutes one of the main elements of the reform of state aids undertaken by the Commission in the last few years. The reform represents an important step towards reducing paperwork and adopts a modern approach to the monitoring of the state aids in order to contribute to the Lisbon Strategy of sustainable development, the competitiveness of industry in the EU, more jobs and social and regional cohesion.
The following main categories of exceptions can be distinguished:
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