State Aid Law Blog

State Aid Uncovered Blog/Guest State Aid 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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- european commission ×

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 […]

Private Investor and Preferential Regulatory Treatment

pills on money
The existence of an advantage has to be proven, not presumed just because its absence cannot be confirmed. Preferential treatment may distort competition but it is not necessarily State aid if there is no transfer of state resources. Temporary Framework: Number of approved covid-19 measures, as of 5 June 2020: 148* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 13; Article 107(3)(b): 125; Article […]

Non-recovery of Incompatible State aid Is Costly

corona virus poster
Legal and practical difficulties in the recovery of incompatible State aid do not constitute justifiable “absolute impossibility”. Temporary Framework On 1 May, the total number of State aid measures to combat covid-19 approved by the European Commission reached 102. Their legal basis was: Article 107(2)(b): 9; Article 107(3)(b): 86; Article 107(3)(c): 7   Introduction The 2020 Temporary Framework for State […]

Identification of Undertakings in Difficulty

corona virus poster
A company is in difficulty if, in practice, its accumulated net losses exceed 50% of its subscribed capital, regardless of whether the subscribed capital is formally written down. The classification of a company as being in difficulty is independent of the sector in which it operates and of whether a private investor would be willing to invest in it. Temporary […]

COVID-19 Measures Adopted and State Aid Measures (Hopefully) to Be Adopted: An Update from Cyprus

Corona Virus
We are happy to share with you an update on the Covid-19 measures that are or will be adopted in Cyprus. Our guest auhor Michail Kamperis is a lawyer and partner at the law firm of Ierotheou, Kamperis & Co. LLC Nicosia, Cyprus. * Sign up for our free news alert  Sign Up For Free   Cyprus is one of […]

Follow Up Webinar with Phedon Nicolaides on ‚COVID-19 and State Aid Law‘ on 20 April

Woman sitting by the computer
The European Commission is working on quickly adapting the existing State aid legal framework to address the current Covid-19 pandemic. Join us on 20th April from the comfort and safety of your (home) office to get an insider update on the Covid-19 response by State aid experts from the European Commission and national governments. ✓ Join from wherever you are – […]

A Preferential Electricity Tariff Is Selective, Confers an Advantage and Distorts Competition

A judicial decision on interim measures is a selective measure. The private investor test does not apply to judicial decisions on interim measures. Introduction On 11 December 2019, in case C‑332/18 P, Mytilinaios Anonymos Etairia — Omilos Epicheiriseon v European Commission, the Court of Justice probably wrote the last chapter in a long-running case concerning privileges that had been granted […]

Compensation to a Toll Road Operator

Contractual obligation to provide compensation that does not exceed the loss of income is not State aid. Introduction When is a company entitled to compensation by the state? The easy answer is “when the state is liable for damage”. However, it may be possible for a company to claim compensation from the state when the state has assumed contractual obligations. […]

1) The European Commission Does not Have to Identify Individual Beneficiaries in its Recovery Decisions 2) Revision of the GBER [InvestEU, Seal of Excellence, ETC]

This week’s article deals with two issues: possible defence against repayment of incompatible State aid and the forthcoming revision of the GBER. Introduction In 2008, the Commission ordered France to recover incompatible aid that had been granted by means of several public measures to support farmers [see Commission decision 2009/402]. What made that decision interesting was that part of the […]

Legal Standing of Investors in Failed Banks

Investors that lodge claims before national courts for damages from resolution of banks have legal standing to request annulment of Commission decisions authorising State aid to those banks. Introduction It is now ten years since the start of the financial crisis. In these ten years, the Commission has adopted about 500 decisions dealing with State aid to banks and other […]

Unconditional and Unlimited Guarantees and their (In)Compatibility with the Internal Market

Operating aid is not normally compatible with the internal market. Therefore, State aid provided through state guarantees should not cover operating costs. State aid embedded in guarantees must be quantifiable so that its necessity and proportionality can be assessed. The assessment of State aid must be made within an EU context taking into account its impact on trade.   Introduction […]

Public Procurement and State Aid

State aid does not have to be awarded on the basis of a competitive procedure, unless the relevant rules require it. Secondary legislation may allow Member States to make direct awards without a prior competitive procedure. Public procurement rules do not apply to awards between contracting authorities.   Introduction   Public procurement and State aid rules have the same basic […]

Dealing with Problematic Banks

The sale of a bank through a fair, open, competitive and transparent procedure that maximises the value of the assets and liabilities is free of State aid.   Introduction This week’s article returns to the theme of State aid to banks and examines a case of “precautionary” recapitalisation and a case of sale of a bank, that was linked to […]

Liquidity Support to Banks

Banks that receive State aid are considered to be failing banks, except when the aid is granted to solvent banks for the purpose of precautionary recapitalisation or temporary liquidity.   Introduction   During the past decade, large amounts of public funds have been committed to shore up failing or illiquid banks. Under current banking rules, the mere fact that a […]

Complaints about Billboards and Welfare Services

A regulatory measure may affect competition but it does not constitute State aid. Administrative changes to existing aid measures do not result in new State aid.   Introduction This article reviews two Commission decisions: one concerning a Czech regulatory measure and another concerning existing aid to German social organisations. Both decisions dealt with complaints about alleged illegal State aid.   […]

State Aid for R&D

A large amount of State aid can still be compatible with the internal market if it meets all of the requirements of the RDI Framework.   Introduction   Since the coming into force of the GBER, only very few cases of R&D have been notified to the Commission. This means that it is not so obvious how the State aid […]

Economic Activities in a System of Social Solidarity

Entities that pursue profit must be classified as undertakings.   Introduction   On 5 February 2018, the General Court annulled Commission decision 2015/248 concerning health insurance in Slovakia [see judgment in case T‑216/15, Dôvera zdravotná poist’ovňa et al v European Commission].[1] The Commission decision was reviewed here on 10 March 2015.(View article at http://stateaidhub.eu/blogs/stateaiduncovered/post/1707.)The Commission had concluded that the providers of health […]

What Happens when Things Go Wrong

Only EU institutions can provide assurances that aid is granted legally. The amount of State aid in a state guarantee given to a company in difficulty can be equal to the amount of the guaranteed loan. The simultaneity of public and private investments is not enough to ensure that the public investment is at market terms. They must also be […]

The Puzzle of the State Acting as a Regulator

When the state exercises its regulatory tasks, it does not have to demand fees and therefore it does not forgo potential state resources.   Introduction A few weeks ago the Commission considered whether the regulatory actions of the state fell within the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU. In decision SA.42028 concerning aid to Yliopiston Apteekki Oy in Finland, the Commission […]

How to Determine whether State Aid Affects Trade

Article 107(1) requires the assessment of both the direct and indirect impact of a public measure on cross-border trade. The direct impact is the effect on the cross-border movement of products or customers of the aid recipient or of its competitors. The indirect impact is the effect on the cross-border movement of the aid recipient itself or its competitors.   […]

The Legal Basis of the (In)compatibility of Aid Must be Clear

The European Commission may withdraw a decision, but before it adopts a new decision it must give an opportunity to interested parties to submit their comments, especially, if it changes the legal basis of the assessment of the compatibility of the aid.   Introduction The most frequent reasons for which the Commission finds aid to be incompatible with the internal […]

Private Creditor Test

The Commission must apply the private creditor test even if a Member State does not request it or believes that it is not relevant.   Introduction Private investors always have two options: to invest or not to invest. They choose the option that generates the largest amount of profit or revenue. Similarly, private creditors also have two options: call in […]

Odysseus and the Sirens: A Rational Market Operator Can Agree to be Bound by the Ruling of an Arbitration Tribunal

A rational market operator can agree to arbitration if there is no reasonable prospect of a better outcome. However, a rational operator would ensure that the terms according to which an arbitration decision can be taken would be defined in advance and would not be prejudicial to the operator.   Introduction Is it rational for a market operator to agree […]

Calculating the Amount of State Aid in a 100% Public Guarantee

The proxy rates in the Commission Notice on Guarantees cannot be used in cases of state guarantees that cover 100% of the underlying loans.   Introduction Last week’s article reviewed the terms of the operation of regional airports in Greece. (View it here). This week’s article continues with the theme of management of public infrastructure and examines Commission decision SA.42545 on […]

Bank Recapitalisation that Conforms to the Market Economy Investor Principle

A public authority acts like a private investor when it injects capital in a stricken bank if there is a realistic prospect of sufficient return that compensates it for the risk it bears.   Introduction Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) is the largest bank in Portugal and is now fully owned by the State. In June 2012, Portugal notified to […]

Transfer of Trademarks

The free transfer of a trademark that belongs to the state confers two possible advantages to the new owner if there is a market for that trademark.   Introduction When a public authority places at the disposal of an undertaking a public asset, it confers to that undertaking a competitive advantage. The competitive advantage is eliminated whenever that public authority […]

Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

airplane
The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Media Plurality in Denmark

State aid measures need not be open to all undertakings.   Introduction On 11 October 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T-167/14, TSøndagsavisen v Commission.[1] Søndagsavisen requested annulment of Commission decision SA.36366 on a measure that had been notified by Denmark. The purpose of the measure was to support production and innovation in the newspaper and magazine sector […]

Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid: Part III – Trade Effect, Distortion of Competition and Infrastructure

This is the third and last article in a series of three that reviews the Commission’s Notice on the Notion of State Aid.* Last week’s article analysed the concepts of advantage and selectivity. This week the focus is on the last two constituent elements of the notion of State aid: affectation of cross-border trade and distortion of competition. This article […]

PART I: Combining Infrastructure Aid with SGEI Aid

A provider of services of general economic interest may receive both investment aid and compensation for the extra costs of public service obligations.   Introduction Governments normally support large infrastructural projects through guarantees. This is because such projects have a long life, the initial investment costs are very high and the recoupment of investment takes place over a long period […]

- european commission ×

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 […]

Private Investor and Preferential Regulatory Treatment

pills on money
The existence of an advantage has to be proven, not presumed just because its absence cannot be confirmed. Preferential treatment may distort competition but it is not necessarily State aid if there is no transfer of state resources. Temporary Framework: Number of approved covid-19 measures, as of 5 June 2020: 148* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 13; Article 107(3)(b): 125; Article […]

Non-recovery of Incompatible State aid Is Costly

corona virus poster
Legal and practical difficulties in the recovery of incompatible State aid do not constitute justifiable “absolute impossibility”. Temporary Framework On 1 May, the total number of State aid measures to combat covid-19 approved by the European Commission reached 102. Their legal basis was: Article 107(2)(b): 9; Article 107(3)(b): 86; Article 107(3)(c): 7   Introduction The 2020 Temporary Framework for State […]

Identification of Undertakings in Difficulty

corona virus poster
A company is in difficulty if, in practice, its accumulated net losses exceed 50% of its subscribed capital, regardless of whether the subscribed capital is formally written down. The classification of a company as being in difficulty is independent of the sector in which it operates and of whether a private investor would be willing to invest in it. Temporary […]

COVID-19 Measures Adopted and State Aid Measures (Hopefully) to Be Adopted: An Update from Cyprus

Corona Virus
We are happy to share with you an update on the Covid-19 measures that are or will be adopted in Cyprus. Our guest auhor Michail Kamperis is a lawyer and partner at the law firm of Ierotheou, Kamperis & Co. LLC Nicosia, Cyprus. * Sign up for our free news alert  Sign Up For Free   Cyprus is one of […]

Follow Up Webinar with Phedon Nicolaides on ‚COVID-19 and State Aid Law‘ on 20 April

Woman sitting by the computer
The European Commission is working on quickly adapting the existing State aid legal framework to address the current Covid-19 pandemic. Join us on 20th April from the comfort and safety of your (home) office to get an insider update on the Covid-19 response by State aid experts from the European Commission and national governments. ✓ Join from wherever you are – […]

A Preferential Electricity Tariff Is Selective, Confers an Advantage and Distorts Competition

A judicial decision on interim measures is a selective measure. The private investor test does not apply to judicial decisions on interim measures. Introduction On 11 December 2019, in case C‑332/18 P, Mytilinaios Anonymos Etairia — Omilos Epicheiriseon v European Commission, the Court of Justice probably wrote the last chapter in a long-running case concerning privileges that had been granted […]

Compensation to a Toll Road Operator

Contractual obligation to provide compensation that does not exceed the loss of income is not State aid. Introduction When is a company entitled to compensation by the state? The easy answer is “when the state is liable for damage”. However, it may be possible for a company to claim compensation from the state when the state has assumed contractual obligations. […]

1) The European Commission Does not Have to Identify Individual Beneficiaries in its Recovery Decisions 2) Revision of the GBER [InvestEU, Seal of Excellence, ETC]

This week’s article deals with two issues: possible defence against repayment of incompatible State aid and the forthcoming revision of the GBER. Introduction In 2008, the Commission ordered France to recover incompatible aid that had been granted by means of several public measures to support farmers [see Commission decision 2009/402]. What made that decision interesting was that part of the […]

Legal Standing of Investors in Failed Banks

Investors that lodge claims before national courts for damages from resolution of banks have legal standing to request annulment of Commission decisions authorising State aid to those banks. Introduction It is now ten years since the start of the financial crisis. In these ten years, the Commission has adopted about 500 decisions dealing with State aid to banks and other […]

Unconditional and Unlimited Guarantees and their (In)Compatibility with the Internal Market

Operating aid is not normally compatible with the internal market. Therefore, State aid provided through state guarantees should not cover operating costs. State aid embedded in guarantees must be quantifiable so that its necessity and proportionality can be assessed. The assessment of State aid must be made within an EU context taking into account its impact on trade.   Introduction […]

Public Procurement and State Aid

State aid does not have to be awarded on the basis of a competitive procedure, unless the relevant rules require it. Secondary legislation may allow Member States to make direct awards without a prior competitive procedure. Public procurement rules do not apply to awards between contracting authorities.   Introduction   Public procurement and State aid rules have the same basic […]

Dealing with Problematic Banks

The sale of a bank through a fair, open, competitive and transparent procedure that maximises the value of the assets and liabilities is free of State aid.   Introduction This week’s article returns to the theme of State aid to banks and examines a case of “precautionary” recapitalisation and a case of sale of a bank, that was linked to […]

Liquidity Support to Banks

Banks that receive State aid are considered to be failing banks, except when the aid is granted to solvent banks for the purpose of precautionary recapitalisation or temporary liquidity.   Introduction   During the past decade, large amounts of public funds have been committed to shore up failing or illiquid banks. Under current banking rules, the mere fact that a […]

Complaints about Billboards and Welfare Services

A regulatory measure may affect competition but it does not constitute State aid. Administrative changes to existing aid measures do not result in new State aid.   Introduction This article reviews two Commission decisions: one concerning a Czech regulatory measure and another concerning existing aid to German social organisations. Both decisions dealt with complaints about alleged illegal State aid.   […]

State Aid for R&D

A large amount of State aid can still be compatible with the internal market if it meets all of the requirements of the RDI Framework.   Introduction   Since the coming into force of the GBER, only very few cases of R&D have been notified to the Commission. This means that it is not so obvious how the State aid […]

Economic Activities in a System of Social Solidarity

Entities that pursue profit must be classified as undertakings.   Introduction   On 5 February 2018, the General Court annulled Commission decision 2015/248 concerning health insurance in Slovakia [see judgment in case T‑216/15, Dôvera zdravotná poist’ovňa et al v European Commission].[1] The Commission decision was reviewed here on 10 March 2015.(View article at http://stateaidhub.eu/blogs/stateaiduncovered/post/1707.)The Commission had concluded that the providers of health […]

What Happens when Things Go Wrong

Only EU institutions can provide assurances that aid is granted legally. The amount of State aid in a state guarantee given to a company in difficulty can be equal to the amount of the guaranteed loan. The simultaneity of public and private investments is not enough to ensure that the public investment is at market terms. They must also be […]

The Puzzle of the State Acting as a Regulator

When the state exercises its regulatory tasks, it does not have to demand fees and therefore it does not forgo potential state resources.   Introduction A few weeks ago the Commission considered whether the regulatory actions of the state fell within the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU. In decision SA.42028 concerning aid to Yliopiston Apteekki Oy in Finland, the Commission […]

How to Determine whether State Aid Affects Trade

Article 107(1) requires the assessment of both the direct and indirect impact of a public measure on cross-border trade. The direct impact is the effect on the cross-border movement of products or customers of the aid recipient or of its competitors. The indirect impact is the effect on the cross-border movement of the aid recipient itself or its competitors.   […]

The Legal Basis of the (In)compatibility of Aid Must be Clear

The European Commission may withdraw a decision, but before it adopts a new decision it must give an opportunity to interested parties to submit their comments, especially, if it changes the legal basis of the assessment of the compatibility of the aid.   Introduction The most frequent reasons for which the Commission finds aid to be incompatible with the internal […]

Private Creditor Test

The Commission must apply the private creditor test even if a Member State does not request it or believes that it is not relevant.   Introduction Private investors always have two options: to invest or not to invest. They choose the option that generates the largest amount of profit or revenue. Similarly, private creditors also have two options: call in […]

Odysseus and the Sirens: A Rational Market Operator Can Agree to be Bound by the Ruling of an Arbitration Tribunal

A rational market operator can agree to arbitration if there is no reasonable prospect of a better outcome. However, a rational operator would ensure that the terms according to which an arbitration decision can be taken would be defined in advance and would not be prejudicial to the operator.   Introduction Is it rational for a market operator to agree […]

Calculating the Amount of State Aid in a 100% Public Guarantee

The proxy rates in the Commission Notice on Guarantees cannot be used in cases of state guarantees that cover 100% of the underlying loans.   Introduction Last week’s article reviewed the terms of the operation of regional airports in Greece. (View it here). This week’s article continues with the theme of management of public infrastructure and examines Commission decision SA.42545 on […]

Bank Recapitalisation that Conforms to the Market Economy Investor Principle

A public authority acts like a private investor when it injects capital in a stricken bank if there is a realistic prospect of sufficient return that compensates it for the risk it bears.   Introduction Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) is the largest bank in Portugal and is now fully owned by the State. In June 2012, Portugal notified to […]

Transfer of Trademarks

The free transfer of a trademark that belongs to the state confers two possible advantages to the new owner if there is a market for that trademark.   Introduction When a public authority places at the disposal of an undertaking a public asset, it confers to that undertaking a competitive advantage. The competitive advantage is eliminated whenever that public authority […]

Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

airplane
The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Media Plurality in Denmark

State aid measures need not be open to all undertakings.   Introduction On 11 October 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T-167/14, TSøndagsavisen v Commission.[1] Søndagsavisen requested annulment of Commission decision SA.36366 on a measure that had been notified by Denmark. The purpose of the measure was to support production and innovation in the newspaper and magazine sector […]

Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid: Part III – Trade Effect, Distortion of Competition and Infrastructure

This is the third and last article in a series of three that reviews the Commission’s Notice on the Notion of State Aid.* Last week’s article analysed the concepts of advantage and selectivity. This week the focus is on the last two constituent elements of the notion of State aid: affectation of cross-border trade and distortion of competition. This article […]

PART I: Combining Infrastructure Aid with SGEI Aid

A provider of services of general economic interest may receive both investment aid and compensation for the extra costs of public service obligations.   Introduction Governments normally support large infrastructural projects through guarantees. This is because such projects have a long life, the initial investment costs are very high and the recoupment of investment takes place over a long period […]

- european commission ×

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 […]

Private Investor and Preferential Regulatory Treatment

pills on money
The existence of an advantage has to be proven, not presumed just because its absence cannot be confirmed. Preferential treatment may distort competition but it is not necessarily State aid if there is no transfer of state resources. Temporary Framework: Number of approved covid-19 measures, as of 5 June 2020: 148* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 13; Article 107(3)(b): 125; Article […]

Non-recovery of Incompatible State aid Is Costly

corona virus poster
Legal and practical difficulties in the recovery of incompatible State aid do not constitute justifiable “absolute impossibility”. Temporary Framework On 1 May, the total number of State aid measures to combat covid-19 approved by the European Commission reached 102. Their legal basis was: Article 107(2)(b): 9; Article 107(3)(b): 86; Article 107(3)(c): 7   Introduction The 2020 Temporary Framework for State […]

Identification of Undertakings in Difficulty

corona virus poster
A company is in difficulty if, in practice, its accumulated net losses exceed 50% of its subscribed capital, regardless of whether the subscribed capital is formally written down. The classification of a company as being in difficulty is independent of the sector in which it operates and of whether a private investor would be willing to invest in it. Temporary […]

COVID-19 Measures Adopted and State Aid Measures (Hopefully) to Be Adopted: An Update from Cyprus

Corona Virus
We are happy to share with you an update on the Covid-19 measures that are or will be adopted in Cyprus. Our guest auhor Michail Kamperis is a lawyer and partner at the law firm of Ierotheou, Kamperis & Co. LLC Nicosia, Cyprus. * Sign up for our free news alert  Sign Up For Free   Cyprus is one of […]

Follow Up Webinar with Phedon Nicolaides on ‚COVID-19 and State Aid Law‘ on 20 April

Woman sitting by the computer
The European Commission is working on quickly adapting the existing State aid legal framework to address the current Covid-19 pandemic. Join us on 20th April from the comfort and safety of your (home) office to get an insider update on the Covid-19 response by State aid experts from the European Commission and national governments. ✓ Join from wherever you are – […]

A Preferential Electricity Tariff Is Selective, Confers an Advantage and Distorts Competition

A judicial decision on interim measures is a selective measure. The private investor test does not apply to judicial decisions on interim measures. Introduction On 11 December 2019, in case C‑332/18 P, Mytilinaios Anonymos Etairia — Omilos Epicheiriseon v European Commission, the Court of Justice probably wrote the last chapter in a long-running case concerning privileges that had been granted […]

Compensation to a Toll Road Operator

Contractual obligation to provide compensation that does not exceed the loss of income is not State aid. Introduction When is a company entitled to compensation by the state? The easy answer is “when the state is liable for damage”. However, it may be possible for a company to claim compensation from the state when the state has assumed contractual obligations. […]

1) The European Commission Does not Have to Identify Individual Beneficiaries in its Recovery Decisions 2) Revision of the GBER [InvestEU, Seal of Excellence, ETC]

This week’s article deals with two issues: possible defence against repayment of incompatible State aid and the forthcoming revision of the GBER. Introduction In 2008, the Commission ordered France to recover incompatible aid that had been granted by means of several public measures to support farmers [see Commission decision 2009/402]. What made that decision interesting was that part of the […]

Legal Standing of Investors in Failed Banks

Investors that lodge claims before national courts for damages from resolution of banks have legal standing to request annulment of Commission decisions authorising State aid to those banks. Introduction It is now ten years since the start of the financial crisis. In these ten years, the Commission has adopted about 500 decisions dealing with State aid to banks and other […]

Unconditional and Unlimited Guarantees and their (In)Compatibility with the Internal Market

Operating aid is not normally compatible with the internal market. Therefore, State aid provided through state guarantees should not cover operating costs. State aid embedded in guarantees must be quantifiable so that its necessity and proportionality can be assessed. The assessment of State aid must be made within an EU context taking into account its impact on trade.   Introduction […]

Public Procurement and State Aid

State aid does not have to be awarded on the basis of a competitive procedure, unless the relevant rules require it. Secondary legislation may allow Member States to make direct awards without a prior competitive procedure. Public procurement rules do not apply to awards between contracting authorities.   Introduction   Public procurement and State aid rules have the same basic […]

Dealing with Problematic Banks

The sale of a bank through a fair, open, competitive and transparent procedure that maximises the value of the assets and liabilities is free of State aid.   Introduction This week’s article returns to the theme of State aid to banks and examines a case of “precautionary” recapitalisation and a case of sale of a bank, that was linked to […]

Liquidity Support to Banks

Banks that receive State aid are considered to be failing banks, except when the aid is granted to solvent banks for the purpose of precautionary recapitalisation or temporary liquidity.   Introduction   During the past decade, large amounts of public funds have been committed to shore up failing or illiquid banks. Under current banking rules, the mere fact that a […]

Complaints about Billboards and Welfare Services

A regulatory measure may affect competition but it does not constitute State aid. Administrative changes to existing aid measures do not result in new State aid.   Introduction This article reviews two Commission decisions: one concerning a Czech regulatory measure and another concerning existing aid to German social organisations. Both decisions dealt with complaints about alleged illegal State aid.   […]

State Aid for R&D

A large amount of State aid can still be compatible with the internal market if it meets all of the requirements of the RDI Framework.   Introduction   Since the coming into force of the GBER, only very few cases of R&D have been notified to the Commission. This means that it is not so obvious how the State aid […]

Economic Activities in a System of Social Solidarity

Entities that pursue profit must be classified as undertakings.   Introduction   On 5 February 2018, the General Court annulled Commission decision 2015/248 concerning health insurance in Slovakia [see judgment in case T‑216/15, Dôvera zdravotná poist’ovňa et al v European Commission].[1] The Commission decision was reviewed here on 10 March 2015.(View article at http://stateaidhub.eu/blogs/stateaiduncovered/post/1707.)The Commission had concluded that the providers of health […]

What Happens when Things Go Wrong

Only EU institutions can provide assurances that aid is granted legally. The amount of State aid in a state guarantee given to a company in difficulty can be equal to the amount of the guaranteed loan. The simultaneity of public and private investments is not enough to ensure that the public investment is at market terms. They must also be […]

The Puzzle of the State Acting as a Regulator

When the state exercises its regulatory tasks, it does not have to demand fees and therefore it does not forgo potential state resources.   Introduction A few weeks ago the Commission considered whether the regulatory actions of the state fell within the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU. In decision SA.42028 concerning aid to Yliopiston Apteekki Oy in Finland, the Commission […]

How to Determine whether State Aid Affects Trade

Article 107(1) requires the assessment of both the direct and indirect impact of a public measure on cross-border trade. The direct impact is the effect on the cross-border movement of products or customers of the aid recipient or of its competitors. The indirect impact is the effect on the cross-border movement of the aid recipient itself or its competitors.   […]

The Legal Basis of the (In)compatibility of Aid Must be Clear

The European Commission may withdraw a decision, but before it adopts a new decision it must give an opportunity to interested parties to submit their comments, especially, if it changes the legal basis of the assessment of the compatibility of the aid.   Introduction The most frequent reasons for which the Commission finds aid to be incompatible with the internal […]

Private Creditor Test

The Commission must apply the private creditor test even if a Member State does not request it or believes that it is not relevant.   Introduction Private investors always have two options: to invest or not to invest. They choose the option that generates the largest amount of profit or revenue. Similarly, private creditors also have two options: call in […]

Odysseus and the Sirens: A Rational Market Operator Can Agree to be Bound by the Ruling of an Arbitration Tribunal

A rational market operator can agree to arbitration if there is no reasonable prospect of a better outcome. However, a rational operator would ensure that the terms according to which an arbitration decision can be taken would be defined in advance and would not be prejudicial to the operator.   Introduction Is it rational for a market operator to agree […]

Calculating the Amount of State Aid in a 100% Public Guarantee

The proxy rates in the Commission Notice on Guarantees cannot be used in cases of state guarantees that cover 100% of the underlying loans.   Introduction Last week’s article reviewed the terms of the operation of regional airports in Greece. (View it here). This week’s article continues with the theme of management of public infrastructure and examines Commission decision SA.42545 on […]

Bank Recapitalisation that Conforms to the Market Economy Investor Principle

A public authority acts like a private investor when it injects capital in a stricken bank if there is a realistic prospect of sufficient return that compensates it for the risk it bears.   Introduction Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) is the largest bank in Portugal and is now fully owned by the State. In June 2012, Portugal notified to […]

Transfer of Trademarks

The free transfer of a trademark that belongs to the state confers two possible advantages to the new owner if there is a market for that trademark.   Introduction When a public authority places at the disposal of an undertaking a public asset, it confers to that undertaking a competitive advantage. The competitive advantage is eliminated whenever that public authority […]

Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

airplane
The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Media Plurality in Denmark

State aid measures need not be open to all undertakings.   Introduction On 11 October 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T-167/14, TSøndagsavisen v Commission.[1] Søndagsavisen requested annulment of Commission decision SA.36366 on a measure that had been notified by Denmark. The purpose of the measure was to support production and innovation in the newspaper and magazine sector […]

Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid: Part III – Trade Effect, Distortion of Competition and Infrastructure

This is the third and last article in a series of three that reviews the Commission’s Notice on the Notion of State Aid.* Last week’s article analysed the concepts of advantage and selectivity. This week the focus is on the last two constituent elements of the notion of State aid: affectation of cross-border trade and distortion of competition. This article […]

PART I: Combining Infrastructure Aid with SGEI Aid

A provider of services of general economic interest may receive both investment aid and compensation for the extra costs of public service obligations.   Introduction Governments normally support large infrastructural projects through guarantees. This is because such projects have a long life, the initial investment costs are very high and the recoupment of investment takes place over a long period […]

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’.

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