The European Commission has decided to extend the validity of the Community guidelines on state aid for environmental protection until 31 December 2000. The current guidelines expire on 30 June 2000. Commission officials are now drafting a new set of guidelines to take more effective account of the methods of granting aid to be employed by the Member States in future. At an initial meeting on a first draft, Member States asked to be consulted again on an amended draft. The Commission expects to be able to hold this meeting in September. The current rule will therefore remain in force until the end of the year to avoid any legal vacuum. The guidelines on environmental protection fall under the Commission's horizontal guidelines for special kinds of aid aimed at resolving problems that may arise in any sector or region. Similar guidelines exist to cover aid to small and medium sized enterprises, research and development, training and restructuring of companies in difficulty.