State Aid Law Blog

State Aid Uncovered Blog

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

A Large Regional Investment Project in Spain

Introduction Most State aid to “large” investment projects is granted by the Member States in Central and Eastern Europe. Moreover, most of the aid goes to induce companies to locate their projects in those countries and to overcome regional handicaps that make the investments less profitable or even loss-making than in other locations. By contrast, regional aid granted to large […]

Another Case of Indirect State Aid

Introduction On 19 May 2021, the General Court, in case T-643/20, Ryanair v Commission, annulled Commission decision SA.57116 by which it authorised State aid in favour of KLM in the context of the measures implemented by the Dutch government to address the covid-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the Commission re-adopted its original decision without the errors that had been identified […]

State Resources, Control and Imputability

Introduction A public measure can be classified as State aid only when it is funded from state resources. Measures funded from the budgets of public authorities are always considered to be supported by state resources. However, measures not funded from state budgets may still be supported by state resources. This is because, rather counterintuitively, the concept of state resources covers […]

Indirect Beneficiaries of State aid

Introduction The prohibition of State aid in Article 107(1) TFEU applies both to direct and indirect beneficiaries. The direct beneficiary is the formal recipient of the aid. However, the formal recipient may only act as an intermediary through which aid flows to third parties or may in fact be required by the aid measure to pass on some or most […]

Non-contractual Liability in the Field of State aid

Introduction The Commission, in its control of State aid, occasionally makes mistakes. EU courts may annul erroneous Commission decisions. This raises the question whether affected undertakings may ask for compensation. The answer is that in order to be eligible for compensation, an undertaking must have suffered damage as a result of an error that constitutes a “serious breach” of EU […]

Public Service Compensation and Indexation of Costs

Introduction Member States may impose public service obligations [PSO] on undertakings and compensate them for the extra costs they incur. The public service compensation [PSC] may also include reasonable profit. Naturally, the PSC may not cover costs that are not related to the PSO or the service of general economic interest [SGEI]. So, for multi-service providers, account separation is absolutely […]

Undertakings May also Carry out Non-economic Activities

Introduction An undertaking is any entity that carries out economic activities regardless of how it is classified in national law or how it is financed. The General Court, in its judgment of 20 December 2023, in case T-166/21, Autorità di sistema portuale del Mar Ligure occidentale v European Commission, also clarified that if an undertaking also carries out tasks assigned […]

National Court May Order Recovery of Illegal Aid that Is Considered Existing Aid

Introduction The European Commission is required by Regulation 2015/1589 to order recover of State aid that it finds to be incompatible with the internal market. However, it may not order recovery of illegal aid – i.e. non-notified aid – until it assesses its compatibility with the internal market. By contrast, national courts have no competence to assess the compatibility of […]

Selectivity

Introduction On 14 December 2023, the Court of Justice, in its judgment in joined cases C-693/21 P and C-698/21 P, EDP España & Naturgy Energy Group v European Commission, faulted the Commission for failing to provide a sufficient explanation why a Spanish measure was selective in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU.1 According to the Court of Justice, the Commission […]

The Consequence of the Tax Autonomy of Member States

Introduction The favourable tax treatment of multinational companies has long been in the sights of the Commission. However, the recent judgments on Fiat [C‑885/19 P, Fiat v Commission] and Engie [C‑454/21 P, Engie v Commission] have made it clear that Commission may not rely on principles which are not recognised in the tax laws of Member States. This fundamental rule […]

A Large Regional Investment Project in Spain

Introduction Most State aid to “large” investment projects is granted by the Member States in Central and Eastern Europe. Moreover, most of the aid goes to induce companies to locate their projects in those countries and to overcome regional handicaps that make the investments less profitable or even loss-making than in other locations. By contrast, regional aid granted to large […]

Another Case of Indirect State Aid

Introduction On 19 May 2021, the General Court, in case T-643/20, Ryanair v Commission, annulled Commission decision SA.57116 by which it authorised State aid in favour of KLM in the context of the measures implemented by the Dutch government to address the covid-19 pandemic. In July 2021, the Commission re-adopted its original decision without the errors that had been identified […]

State Resources, Control and Imputability

Introduction A public measure can be classified as State aid only when it is funded from state resources. Measures funded from the budgets of public authorities are always considered to be supported by state resources. However, measures not funded from state budgets may still be supported by state resources. This is because, rather counterintuitively, the concept of state resources covers […]

Indirect Beneficiaries of State aid

Introduction The prohibition of State aid in Article 107(1) TFEU applies both to direct and indirect beneficiaries. The direct beneficiary is the formal recipient of the aid. However, the formal recipient may only act as an intermediary through which aid flows to third parties or may in fact be required by the aid measure to pass on some or most […]

Non-contractual Liability in the Field of State aid

Introduction The Commission, in its control of State aid, occasionally makes mistakes. EU courts may annul erroneous Commission decisions. This raises the question whether affected undertakings may ask for compensation. The answer is that in order to be eligible for compensation, an undertaking must have suffered damage as a result of an error that constitutes a “serious breach” of EU […]

Public Service Compensation and Indexation of Costs

Introduction Member States may impose public service obligations [PSO] on undertakings and compensate them for the extra costs they incur. The public service compensation [PSC] may also include reasonable profit. Naturally, the PSC may not cover costs that are not related to the PSO or the service of general economic interest [SGEI]. So, for multi-service providers, account separation is absolutely […]

Undertakings May also Carry out Non-economic Activities

Introduction An undertaking is any entity that carries out economic activities regardless of how it is classified in national law or how it is financed. The General Court, in its judgment of 20 December 2023, in case T-166/21, Autorità di sistema portuale del Mar Ligure occidentale v European Commission, also clarified that if an undertaking also carries out tasks assigned […]

National Court May Order Recovery of Illegal Aid that Is Considered Existing Aid

Introduction The European Commission is required by Regulation 2015/1589 to order recover of State aid that it finds to be incompatible with the internal market. However, it may not order recovery of illegal aid – i.e. non-notified aid – until it assesses its compatibility with the internal market. By contrast, national courts have no competence to assess the compatibility of […]

Selectivity

Introduction On 14 December 2023, the Court of Justice, in its judgment in joined cases C-693/21 P and C-698/21 P, EDP España & Naturgy Energy Group v European Commission, faulted the Commission for failing to provide a sufficient explanation why a Spanish measure was selective in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU.1 According to the Court of Justice, the Commission […]

The Consequence of the Tax Autonomy of Member States

Introduction The favourable tax treatment of multinational companies has long been in the sights of the Commission. However, the recent judgments on Fiat [C‑885/19 P, Fiat v Commission] and Engie [C‑454/21 P, Engie v Commission] have made it clear that Commission may not rely on principles which are not recognised in the tax laws of Member States. This fundamental rule […]

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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