2019:532 Région Île-de-France v European Commission

Court General Court
Date of ruling 12 July 2019
Case name (short version) Région Île-de-France v European Commission
Case Citation T-292/17

ECLI:EU:T:2019:532

Key words State aid — Aid scheme implemented by France between 1994 and 2008 — Investment subsidies awarded by the Île-de-France Region — Decision declaring the aid scheme compatible with the internal market — Advantage — Selective nature — Article 107(1) TFEU — Obligation to state reasons — Concepts of ‘existing aid’ and ‘new aid’ — Article 108 TFEU — Article 1(b)(i) and (v) of Regulation (EU) 2015/1589
Basic context In the judgments of 12 July 2019, Keolis CIF and Others v Commission (T-289/17), Transdev and Others v Commission (T-291/17), Région Île-de-France v Commission (T-292/17), Optile v Commission (T-309/17), Ceobus and Others. /v Commission (T-330/17) and STIF-IDF v Commission (T-738/17), the Court of First Instance dismissed several applications for partial annulment of the Commission’s decision of 2 February 2017 concerning two aid schemes implemented by France in favour of bus transport undertakings in the Ile-de-France Region{1}.

All those cases concern the granting of two aid schemes in favour of bus transport undertakings in the Île-de-France region, the first, implemented by the Île-de-France Region between 1994 and 2008, and the second, implemented by the Syndicat Transport Île de France (STIF-IDF) from 2008. The aid paid under these schemes was intended to promote the acquisition of equipment by regular public transport undertakings in the Ile-de-France region and to offset the investment costs borne by them.

{1 Commission Decision (EU) 2017/1470 of 2 February 2017 on the aid schemes SA.26763 2014/C (ex 2012/NN) implemented by France for bus transport undertakings in the Ile-de-France region (OJ 2017, L 209, p. 24).}

{2 Commission Decision (EU) 2017/1470 of 2 February 2017 on the aid schemes SA.26763 2014/C (ex 2012/NN) implemented by France for bus transport undertakings in the Ile-de-France region (OJ 2017, L 209, p. 24).}

Points arising – admissibility Action for annulment – Admissibility – Dismissal of an action on the merits without ruling on admissibility – Discretion of the Union judicature.

Action for annulment – Pleas in law – Lack or inadequacy of statement of reasons – Plea distinct from that concerning legality as to the substance of the case.

Points arising – substance Aid granted by States – Commission decision classifying a measure as State aid – Obligation to state reasons – Scope – Characterisation of the harm to competition and the effect on trade between Member States

Aid granted by States – Commission decision classifying a measure as State aid – Obligation to state reasons – Scope – Selective nature of the measure – Granting of an advantage to beneficiaries

Aid granted by States – Commission decision classifying a measure as State aid – Obligation to state reasons – Scope – Measures intended to compensate for the cost of public service tasks undertaken by an undertaking – Fourth condition laid down in the Altmark judgment

Aid granted by States – Concept – Granting of an advantage to beneficiaries – Investment subsidies granted to undertakings in the public transport market – Inclusion

By judgment in Région Île-de-France v Commission, the Court of First Instance dismissed the action brought by Région Île-de-France. The Court held that the appellant cannot criticise the Commission for having infringed the obligation to state reasons in the context of its assessments relating to the selective nature of the aid scheme which it introduced between 1994 and 2008 and the undue economic advantage granted to the beneficiaries of that scheme.

Furthermore, the Court of First Instance held that there was no reason to question the correctness of the assessments, in the contested decision, concerning the existence of an economic advantage and the selectivity of the scheme. In that regard, the Court of First Instance stated that undertakings from other Member States or other French regions were not eligible for the contested subsidies from which only undertakings active on the market for regular passenger transport and operating in the applicant’s territory could benefit. The Court of First Instance also dismissed the plea alleging infringement of Article 1(b)(i) and (v) of Regulation 2015/1589.

Intervention  –
Interim measures  –
Order
  1. Dismisses the action;
  2. Orders Région Île-de-France to bear its own costs and to pay those incurred by the European Commission.
Fine changed  –
Case duration 1 years 10 months
Judge-rapporteur Öberg
Notes on academic writings Idot, Laurence: Régime d’aide nouveau ou ancien, Europe 2019 Mois Comm. nº 10 p.35 (FR)

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