The Government has received EU approval for two initiatives aimed at encouraging investment in Irish businesses.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the European Commission had given the go-ahead for the Employment and Investment Incentive (EII) and the Seed Capital Scheme (SCS), adding that both would start operating immediately.

The EII provides tax relief for private investors who put money into companies which would otherwise find it difficult to raise funding. The minimum investment period is three years.

The SCS aims to encourage people to set up new businesses. It provides a refund of tax paid in previous years to those who start their own business. Both schemes needed approval under EU state aid rules.

Mr Noonan also announced that the Business Expansion Scheme would end at the end of this year. The latest date for tax relief under the BES scheme will be for shares issued on or before December 31 this year.

A small number of amendments to the rules governing the EII and SCS were agreed with the Commission, and will be included in the Finance Bill 2012.