State Aid Law Blog

State Aid Uncovered by Prof Phedon Nicolaides

On a weekly basis Phedon Nicolaides posts critical analysis pieces on the latest State aid judgments and decisions on his blog State Aid Uncovered. Each article presents the main points of a court ruling or Commission‘s decision, places them in the context of similar case law or practice, assesses the underlying reasoning, and identifies any inconsistencies or contradictions.
Occasional guest blog posts by other State aid experts complement the State aid knowledge hub.

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Professor at Maastricht University; Professor at University of Nicosia, and Academic Director at Lexxion Training

Repayment of Incompatible State Aid Is Inescapable

Introduction Companies may pay taxes in several Member States of the EU or in third countries. This fact by itself has no bearing in an assessment of whether preferential tax treatment in a Member State may constitute State aid. However, it becomes relevant when incompatible aid is to be recovered and the granting Member State has to determine the amount […]

The Commission May Authorise a Public Measure only if it Constitutes State Aid

Introduction Sometimes the Commission is uncertain whether a public measure constitutes State aid. Nonetheless, it decides not raise objections on the grounds that if the measure constituted State aid, it would be compatible with the internal market. One can understand why the Commission follows this approach. If it is not sure whether a measure falls outside the scope of Article […]

Green Energy Certificates

Introduction Certificates that confirm that an undertaking has bought a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources do not normally involve State aid because they are not traded. However, when they are tradeable and are granted by a public authority for free or for a fee that falls below their market value, they normally involve State aid as they confer […]

Aid Measures with Limited Beneficiaries

Introduction During the covid-19 pandemic Member States granted State aid to undertakings they considered important for their economies or for maintaining their connectivity with the rest of the world. Ryanair appealed against multiple Commission decisions authorising that aid. Ryanair succeeded in some of its challenges on technical issues. It lost all other cases on issues of principle. On 6 June […]

Obligations Imposed by the State Cannot Justify Tax Exemptions

Introduction Over the past decade or so, the European Commission has found that multiple port operators have benefitted from State aid in the form of tax exemptions. This aid was in all cases found to be incompatible with the internal market, despite the claims of the port operators that the state had imposed on the public service obligations or that […]

Member States May Grant State Aid to Single Beneficiaries

Introduction The European Court of Justice confirmed, once more, on 30 May 2024, in case C-353/21 P, Ryanair v Commission, that Member States do not have to grant State aid to all undertakings that may be affected by a serious economic disturbance such as a pandemic.2 This is because Member States do not have unlimited resources and because they may […]

Special Tax Treatment for a Major Infrastructure Project

Introduction In April 2013, the Commission received a complaint alleging that State aid had been granted to the Oresund fixed link. The link is a major transport infrastructure project consisting of a bridge, an artificial island and tunnels between Denmark and Sweden. In October 2014, the Commission concluded that the public funding of the hinterland road and rail connections was […]

A Research Project Based on Collaboration with a Research Organisation

Introduction After pre-notification contacts, Croatia notified, in March 2023, State aid amounting to a EUR 179.5 million for an R&D project regarding the development of an innovative autonomous electric vehicle [a “robo-taxi”]. The aid, in the form of a grant, was to be provided to Project 3 Mobility LLC [P3M]. The Commission approved it in decision SA.101759.1 The aid beneficiary, […]

Authorisation of State Aid after the Start of a Project

Introduction In June 2021, the European Commission, in decision SA.55526, approved an amount of EUR 167 million of State aid for the construction and operation of a liquefied natural gas [LNG] terminal close to Alexandroupolis in northern Greece. In December 2022, Greece notified a measure involving additional State aid of EUR 106 million for the same project. The Commission authorised […]

Restructuring State Aid

Introduction State aid to failing undertakings is the most distortionary form of public subsidies. They prevent the market exit of inefficient companies. For this reason, State aid for rescue or restructuring of undertakings in difficulty must always be notified to the Commission which examines each case very carefully and allows this kind of aid only when, among other things, the […]

Repayment of Incompatible State Aid Is Inescapable

Introduction Companies may pay taxes in several Member States of the EU or in third countries. This fact by itself has no bearing in an assessment of whether preferential tax treatment in a Member State may constitute State aid. However, it becomes relevant when incompatible aid is to be recovered and the granting Member State has to determine the amount […]

The Commission May Authorise a Public Measure only if it Constitutes State Aid

Introduction Sometimes the Commission is uncertain whether a public measure constitutes State aid. Nonetheless, it decides not raise objections on the grounds that if the measure constituted State aid, it would be compatible with the internal market. One can understand why the Commission follows this approach. If it is not sure whether a measure falls outside the scope of Article […]

Green Energy Certificates

Introduction Certificates that confirm that an undertaking has bought a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources do not normally involve State aid because they are not traded. However, when they are tradeable and are granted by a public authority for free or for a fee that falls below their market value, they normally involve State aid as they confer […]

Obligations Imposed by the State Cannot Justify Tax Exemptions

Introduction Over the past decade or so, the European Commission has found that multiple port operators have benefitted from State aid in the form of tax exemptions. This aid was in all cases found to be incompatible with the internal market, despite the claims of the port operators that the state had imposed on the public service obligations or that […]

Member States May Grant State Aid to Single Beneficiaries

Introduction The European Court of Justice confirmed, once more, on 30 May 2024, in case C-353/21 P, Ryanair v Commission, that Member States do not have to grant State aid to all undertakings that may be affected by a serious economic disturbance such as a pandemic.2 This is because Member States do not have unlimited resources and because they may […]

Special Tax Treatment for a Major Infrastructure Project

Introduction In April 2013, the Commission received a complaint alleging that State aid had been granted to the Oresund fixed link. The link is a major transport infrastructure project consisting of a bridge, an artificial island and tunnels between Denmark and Sweden. In October 2014, the Commission concluded that the public funding of the hinterland road and rail connections was […]

A Research Project Based on Collaboration with a Research Organisation

Introduction After pre-notification contacts, Croatia notified, in March 2023, State aid amounting to a EUR 179.5 million for an R&D project regarding the development of an innovative autonomous electric vehicle [a “robo-taxi”]. The aid, in the form of a grant, was to be provided to Project 3 Mobility LLC [P3M]. The Commission approved it in decision SA.101759.1 The aid beneficiary, […]

Authorisation of State Aid after the Start of a Project

Introduction In June 2021, the European Commission, in decision SA.55526, approved an amount of EUR 167 million of State aid for the construction and operation of a liquefied natural gas [LNG] terminal close to Alexandroupolis in northern Greece. In December 2022, Greece notified a measure involving additional State aid of EUR 106 million for the same project. The Commission authorised […]

Restructuring State Aid

Introduction State aid to failing undertakings is the most distortionary form of public subsidies. They prevent the market exit of inefficient companies. For this reason, State aid for rescue or restructuring of undertakings in difficulty must always be notified to the Commission which examines each case very carefully and allows this kind of aid only when, among other things, the […]

Public Procurement and State Aid

Introduction A faulty public procurement procedure or the use of discriminatory selection criteria can confer an advantage on the chosen undertaking that may constitute an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. The result will be infringement of both public procurement rules and State aid rules. A recent Commission decision, SA.47650, is instructive on how Member States should design […]

The Interplay of R&D Works and Formal Incentive Effect Rules

The Interplay of R&D Works and Formal Incentive Effect Rules Michał Bernat.1 The issue mentioned in the title appears at first sight rather uncontroversial, as it is instinctively understood that research and development (R&D) works do not form part of an investment towards which they are directed, but this brief note raises certain issues arising in that respect which have […]

A Visionary XXX FIDE Congress Approaching

We’re happy to announce that Lexxion publisher has become a media partner to the FIDE Congress, one of the most distinguished events on EU law. Of particular interest for the readers of the State Aid blog and the EStAL quarterly is the second topic of the congress, dedicated to the new geopolitical dimension of the EU competition and trade policies. […]

Further Views on Editorial by Andreas Bartosch (EStAL 1/2022, 1)

Reading the Editorial by Andreas Bartosch (EStAL 1/2022, 1), I feel tempted – not to worship Satan or the GBER, but to add some more colours to the picture drawn up by the esteemed colleague. It is true that the Block Exemption Regulations were intended to save the Commission Services from „lästigem Alltagsgerümpel“ (“boring routine rubbish”, as Andreas Bartosch dubbed […]

How to approach the risk of carbon lock-in effects in state aid analysis?

A recent FSR Debate[1] held on 4 May examined the key question of how policymakers and regulators can avoid carbon lock-in jeopardising the attainment of the European Union’s ambitious energy and climate targets. Carbon lock-in refers to situations where emissions-intensive energy assets continue to be used even when low-carbon and socially more beneficial assets are available.  This is a controversial […]

The European Commission’s Opening Decision in the German Lignite Phase-Out Case – Part II.

The article is based on a legal opinion, that was given to LEAG. Doubts regarding the existence of an advantage – continued Compensation amounts based on a MEO settlement agreement An essential component of the compensation covering the full scope of any damages caused to the operators affected by the early closure is also the avoidance of legal and factual […]

The European Commission’s Opening Decision in the German Lignite Phase-Out Case – Part I.

The article is based on a legal opinion, that was given to LEAG. Introduction The European Green Deal envisages a clean and decarbonised energy sector with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.[1] These ambitious objectives entrust the Member States with enormous tasks in connection with the transformation process, which must always be designed in a proportionate manner. For this purpose, […]

Pre- Notifications, Preliminary Investigations and the Rights of Third Parties in State Aid Procedures – Beware of the Black Hole!

The persistently cautious approach of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) to recognizing any really meaningful rights for third parties in State aid proceedings before the European Commission as well as in judicial proceedings is well-known and frequently criticized. With the recent adoption of the new Climate Law at the end of June and the official launch […]

Public Support to Ultrafast Networks in the Italian NRRP

As part of the investments to support the digitisation, innovation and competitiveness of the production system[1], the Italian Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP) has allocated €6.71 billion for interventions in favor of ultra-fast networks (ultra-broadband and 5G)[2]. The amount will be deployed by 2026 to achieve the objectives defined in the “Italian Strategy for ultra-broadband”[3] in accordance with the EU […]

The UK’s New Subsidy Control Bill: Targeting a Faster, More Permissive Regime Than EU State Aid Rules

The long awaited Subsidy Control Bill has been published by the UK Government with bold promises that it will “create a new system for subsidies that can enable key domestic priorities, such as levelling up economic growth across the UK and driving our green industrial revolution“.  In this article we identify the main changes immediately emerging from the draft legislation, […]

When State Aid Gets Political

We are happy to receive a guest comment on the EU – UK post-Brexit trade negotiations from Professor Emerita, Erika Szyszczak, who is a Fellow of UKTPO at the University of Sussex. This is a longer version of an earlier Blog published on the UKTPO website. Control over State aid is a stumbling block for the future of an EU […]

How to Submit a Blog Post

Do you want to share your analysis of a State aid law topic? We invite you to submit your post on, for example: recent European, national or international judgments or legislation with relevance to EU State aid law; new developments, publications, hot topics in EU State aid law. The recommended length of the post is 500-2,000 words incl. references (endnotes). Your analysis will be published under the category ‘Guest State Aid Blog’.

Here’s how you can publish a post on the Blog as a guest author:

Step 1: Submit your draft to Nelly Stratieva at stratieva@lexxion.eu.

Step 2: We at Lexxion will review your draft to make sure its content and quality fit the blog. If needed, they will suggest what improvements you should make.

Step 3: Once your draft has been finalised and accepted, we will publish your post.

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