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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- Article 107(1) TFEU ×

Belgium and COVID-19: The European Commission Approves Several Belgian State Aid Measures

corona virus
We are happy to share with you an update on the Covid-19 measures that have been approved in Belgium. Our guest auhor Wout De Cock is a PhD candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and part-time teaching assistant at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.* Introduction In issue 1/2020 of the European State Aid Law Quarterly, we concluded that the European Commission […]

Public Subsidies to Households Can Be State aid

Support for individual borrowers can be indirect State aid to banks.   Introduction The fact that a public measure has social objectives and aims to help poor households or disadvantaged persons instead of undertakings does not necessarily remove it from the reach of State aid rules. During the past decade, in response to the economic crisis, a number of Member […]

Can a Tax (rather than a Tax Exemption) Confer a Selective Advantage?

A tax that is levied at one level of government and does not apply to products and activities at a different level of government need not be selective. Introduction A tax exemption normally confers a selective advantage, unless it is justified by the logic of the tax. Counterintuitively, a tax itself can be selectively advantageous if its scope is too […]

The Recovery of Incompatible Aid Cannot be Absolutely Impossible Unless it is first Attempted

Introduction In its ruling of 6 November 2018 in cases C‑622/16 P to C‑624/16 P, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission, the Court of Justice made it harder for Member States to escape from their recovery obligations.[1] Montessori appealed against the judgment of the General Court in case T‑220/13, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission. That judgment was reviewed here on […]

Using the Correct Methodology to Calculate Public Service Compensation

Compensation for the extra costs of a public service obligation may include a reasonable profit that reflects the risk borne by the provider of the public service.   Introduction   The calculation of the amount of compensation for the extra costs of public service obligations can be difficult and tricky. In the absence of such calculation, aid to providers of […]

Ex ante Assessment of Future Profitability is Absolutely Necessary

A private investor assesses the prospects of future profitability before it invests. The burden of proof lies with the Member State that claims it has acted as a private investor.   Introduction The market economy investor principle is based on a simple premise: before you commit your money you need to check how much you are likely to get back. […]

The Compatibility of State Aid Depends on the Rules which are Applicable at the Time the Aid is Granted

Failure to comply with just a single provision of an exemption regulation results in the non-applicability of the whole regulation and makes any implemented aid measure automatically illegal. The compatibility of aid measures adopted in the past but continuing having effects are assessed not on the basis of old rules but on the basis of the rules which are applicable […]

The Definition of the Reference Tax System is still a Puzzle

A selective measure should be determined on the basis of its effects, not on the basis of the legally defined regulatory techniques.   Introduction A tax measure is selective in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU when it basically deviates from the normal tax system. In the case of a tax reduction or a tax exemption the normal system is […]

Danish Water Tax Exemption

A selective tax reduction does not constitute State aid if it does not confer an advantage that is proportionately larger than the magnitude of the tax reduction. A complete exemption of insignificant amounts of the taxable volume can be justified on the grounds of reducing administrative burden.     Introduction   Member States enjoy wide discretion to levy taxes on […]

Remedying the Damage of a Natural Disaster through Incentives for New Investments

Damage from natural disasters can be remedied in the short-term through direct compensation or in the longer-term through investment subsidies to support new productive capacity.   Introduction   This article reviews a rather straightforward case which, however, is also quite unusual. It concerns a measure to remedy the effect of recent earthquakes in Italy. What makes it unusual is that […]

Exemption from Taxes that Protect the Environment May not be Selective – Part I

Member States have discretion to impose taxes that penalise environmentally harmful activities. Exemption of undertakings whose activities do not harm the environment does not constitute State aid whenever the exempted undertakings are not in a comparable situation.   Application of Article 107(1) to the Asturias tax   In this case, exempted establishments were those with sales area less than 4000m2 or […]

Correct Pricing for the Use of Publicly Funded Infrastructure

Publicly funded infrastructure must be made available to users at prices that correspond to its market value.   Introduction   When publicly-funded infrastructure is placed at the disposal of an undertaking, that undertaking must pay a market price, otherwise it derives an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. But what is the market price? Is it the price […]

PART I: Concessions and State Aid: Does the State Act as a Regulator or Market Operator?

When Member States act as regulators they need not maximise revenue from the granting of concessions rights. When Member States act as regulators they must grant concession rights on the basis of procedures which are competitive, transparent, non-discriminatory and unconditional. Introduction   Is it possible for a public authority to grant State aid through a defective procurement procedure? The answer […]

i) Transfer of State Resources, ii) Non-recovery of Incompatible Aid, iii) Primacy of Agricultural Policy over Competition Policy

Private resources that come under the control of a public authority become state resources. The only defence for not recovering incompatible aid is absolute impossibility. Agricultural policy objectives take precedence over those of competition policy. Introduction This article reviews a case involving transfer of state resources and a case concerning failure to recovery of incompatible State aid. It also draws […]

Even the Catholic Church Is not Absolved from State Aid Rules: The Essence of Economic Activity – PART I

Purely religious activities and education funded by the state are not economic in nature. Introduction On 27 June 2017 the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑74/16, Congregación de Escuelas Pías Provincia Betania v Ayuntamiento de Getafe.[1] The ruling was in response to a request from a Spanish administrative court dealing with a tax dispute between religious schools and the municipality of […]

The Art, Science and Law of Funding Services of General Economic Interest

The compulsory nature of an assigned public mission makes the services covered by the mission different from those provided by market operators for profit.   Introduction The justification of government intervention for the purpose of ensuring delivery of adequate services of general economic interest [SGEI] and the design of measures that compensate providers of SGEI can be very tricky. This […]

Financial Cooperatives

National courts may not question Commission decisions but they may ask the Court of Justice for guidance on how to interpret Commission decisions. Protection of shareholders of a particular category of companies is a selective measure. Introduction This is the last article dealing with the judgments that were rendered by EU courts on 21 December 2016. This article reviews the reply […]

Funding of the Spanish Public Broadcaster and Hypothecation of Taxes

Tax payers have grounds to object to a tax on the basis of Article 107(1) TFEU only when the tax is “asymmetrical” or when it is “hypothecated” to an aid measure.   Introduction On 10 November 2016, the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑449/14 P, DTS v European Commission.[1] DTS, a Spanish television company, appealed against the judgment of the General […]

Existing v New Aid and Role of National Courts

Modification of an existing aid measure turns it into a new aid measure if it affects its compatibility with the internal market. National courts must also notify to the Commission any new aid measure they detect.   Introduction On 26 October 2016, the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑590/14 P, DEI v Commission.[1] DEI, the incumbent electricity producer in Greece appealed against […]

No Affectation of Trade

Public subsidies that do not affect cross-border trade either directly or indirectly do not constitute State aid in the meaning of Article 107(1). The direct trade effect is the impact on customers or users. The indirect trade effect is the impact on potential market entrants.   Introduction In April 2015, the Commission surprised us with seven decisions that concluded that […]

Compatible State Aid May Have Negative Effects on some Market Operators

The existence of market failure is not necessary for aid to be declared compatible under Article 107(3). Market failure does not mean that the market is completely unable to supply a good or service. State aid aiming to remedy market failure may be compatible with the internal market even if it has a negative impact on some market operators.   […]

Local Infrastructure

Public funding of local infrastructure is not State aid when the responsibility for the infrastructure falls within the remit of public authorities, it is not commercially exploited, it is open to all users, it is not intended to support the needs of any particular undertaking and any benefits to any undertaking are incidental.   Introduction Even since the adoption of […]

The Boundaries of Non-Economic Infrastructure and the Limits of the Funding Gap Method

Public funding of assets which are used exclusively by certain undertakings constitutes State aid. If the state chooses to fund certain assets or activities, then it must do so consistently in all regions and in relation to all affected undertakings.   Introduction A typical mission of the state is to provide public goods. Normally public funding of public goods is […]

Possible Advantage from the Exclusive Use of Public-Funded Infrastructure

The exclusive use of a public asset or an asset funded by public money may confer an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU if several competitors express their interest to use the same asset.   Introduction As public authorities are becoming more aware that placing public assets at the disposal of undertakings can involve State aid, they increasingly […]

Special Tax Treatment to Alleviate Structural Disadvantages

Favourable tax treatment to alleviate “structural disadvantages” suffered by certain companies is a selective measure that falls within the scope of Article 107(1).   Introduction Member States use taxes not just to raise revenue but also as instruments of public policy. They impose taxes on activities they want to discourage [e.g. smoking, driving] and they relieve from taxes activities they […]

Compensation for Public Service Obligations and Compensation for Damage

Compensation for public service obligations is compatible with the internal market when, at minimum, a PSO is well defined in an entrustment constituting an official act of a public authority, the revenues and costs of the PSO are clearly identified and separated from other commercial activities and the compensation does not exceed the net extra costs of the PSO. Compensation […]

The Challenge of Calculating a Market Price

The market price of land or buildings can be determined via auction, expert valuation or other appropriate methods.   Introduction On 16 July 2015, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in case C‑39/14, BVVG Bodenverwertungs- und -verwaltungs GmbH [BVVG] v Landkreis Jerichower Land in Germany.[1] The judgment was in response to a request for a preliminary ruling concerning a dispute […]

PART II: Green Electricity and Reduction of Energy Taxes for Energy-Intensive Users

Part II: Support of electricity production from renewable energy sources is normally compatible with the internal market. Reduction of taxes on electricity used by energy-intensive industries is allowed only for certain sectors exposed to international trade and only when they bear a certain cost. Taxes on imported electricity normally infringe free-trade and non-discrimination provisions, unless commensurate benefits are extended to […]

Non-Commercial Public Infrastructure: Another Judgment, More Questions

Public infrastructure which is not exploited for commercial purposes does not result in an advantage for its users. Undertakings which are subject to different regulatory requirements can be treated differently. Cross-border trade can be affected even when there is no direct provision of cross-border services.   Introduction The Leipzig-Halle judgment of 2011 was a shock to public funding of infrastructure […]

- Article 107(1) TFEU ×

Belgium and COVID-19: The European Commission Approves Several Belgian State Aid Measures

corona virus
We are happy to share with you an update on the Covid-19 measures that have been approved in Belgium. Our guest auhor Wout De Cock is a PhD candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and part-time teaching assistant at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.* Introduction In issue 1/2020 of the European State Aid Law Quarterly, we concluded that the European Commission […]

Public Subsidies to Households Can Be State aid

Support for individual borrowers can be indirect State aid to banks.   Introduction The fact that a public measure has social objectives and aims to help poor households or disadvantaged persons instead of undertakings does not necessarily remove it from the reach of State aid rules. During the past decade, in response to the economic crisis, a number of Member […]

Can a Tax (rather than a Tax Exemption) Confer a Selective Advantage?

A tax that is levied at one level of government and does not apply to products and activities at a different level of government need not be selective. Introduction A tax exemption normally confers a selective advantage, unless it is justified by the logic of the tax. Counterintuitively, a tax itself can be selectively advantageous if its scope is too […]

The Recovery of Incompatible Aid Cannot be Absolutely Impossible Unless it is first Attempted

Introduction In its ruling of 6 November 2018 in cases C‑622/16 P to C‑624/16 P, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission, the Court of Justice made it harder for Member States to escape from their recovery obligations.[1] Montessori appealed against the judgment of the General Court in case T‑220/13, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission. That judgment was reviewed here on […]

Using the Correct Methodology to Calculate Public Service Compensation

Compensation for the extra costs of a public service obligation may include a reasonable profit that reflects the risk borne by the provider of the public service.   Introduction   The calculation of the amount of compensation for the extra costs of public service obligations can be difficult and tricky. In the absence of such calculation, aid to providers of […]

Ex ante Assessment of Future Profitability is Absolutely Necessary

A private investor assesses the prospects of future profitability before it invests. The burden of proof lies with the Member State that claims it has acted as a private investor.   Introduction The market economy investor principle is based on a simple premise: before you commit your money you need to check how much you are likely to get back. […]

The Compatibility of State Aid Depends on the Rules which are Applicable at the Time the Aid is Granted

Failure to comply with just a single provision of an exemption regulation results in the non-applicability of the whole regulation and makes any implemented aid measure automatically illegal. The compatibility of aid measures adopted in the past but continuing having effects are assessed not on the basis of old rules but on the basis of the rules which are applicable […]

The Definition of the Reference Tax System is still a Puzzle

A selective measure should be determined on the basis of its effects, not on the basis of the legally defined regulatory techniques.   Introduction A tax measure is selective in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU when it basically deviates from the normal tax system. In the case of a tax reduction or a tax exemption the normal system is […]

Danish Water Tax Exemption

A selective tax reduction does not constitute State aid if it does not confer an advantage that is proportionately larger than the magnitude of the tax reduction. A complete exemption of insignificant amounts of the taxable volume can be justified on the grounds of reducing administrative burden.     Introduction   Member States enjoy wide discretion to levy taxes on […]

Remedying the Damage of a Natural Disaster through Incentives for New Investments

Damage from natural disasters can be remedied in the short-term through direct compensation or in the longer-term through investment subsidies to support new productive capacity.   Introduction   This article reviews a rather straightforward case which, however, is also quite unusual. It concerns a measure to remedy the effect of recent earthquakes in Italy. What makes it unusual is that […]

Exemption from Taxes that Protect the Environment May not be Selective – Part I

Member States have discretion to impose taxes that penalise environmentally harmful activities. Exemption of undertakings whose activities do not harm the environment does not constitute State aid whenever the exempted undertakings are not in a comparable situation.   Application of Article 107(1) to the Asturias tax   In this case, exempted establishments were those with sales area less than 4000m2 or […]

Correct Pricing for the Use of Publicly Funded Infrastructure

Publicly funded infrastructure must be made available to users at prices that correspond to its market value.   Introduction   When publicly-funded infrastructure is placed at the disposal of an undertaking, that undertaking must pay a market price, otherwise it derives an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. But what is the market price? Is it the price […]

PART I: Concessions and State Aid: Does the State Act as a Regulator or Market Operator?

When Member States act as regulators they need not maximise revenue from the granting of concessions rights. When Member States act as regulators they must grant concession rights on the basis of procedures which are competitive, transparent, non-discriminatory and unconditional. Introduction   Is it possible for a public authority to grant State aid through a defective procurement procedure? The answer […]

i) Transfer of State Resources, ii) Non-recovery of Incompatible Aid, iii) Primacy of Agricultural Policy over Competition Policy

Private resources that come under the control of a public authority become state resources. The only defence for not recovering incompatible aid is absolute impossibility. Agricultural policy objectives take precedence over those of competition policy. Introduction This article reviews a case involving transfer of state resources and a case concerning failure to recovery of incompatible State aid. It also draws […]

Even the Catholic Church Is not Absolved from State Aid Rules: The Essence of Economic Activity – PART I

Purely religious activities and education funded by the state are not economic in nature. Introduction On 27 June 2017 the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑74/16, Congregación de Escuelas Pías Provincia Betania v Ayuntamiento de Getafe.[1] The ruling was in response to a request from a Spanish administrative court dealing with a tax dispute between religious schools and the municipality of […]

The Art, Science and Law of Funding Services of General Economic Interest

The compulsory nature of an assigned public mission makes the services covered by the mission different from those provided by market operators for profit.   Introduction The justification of government intervention for the purpose of ensuring delivery of adequate services of general economic interest [SGEI] and the design of measures that compensate providers of SGEI can be very tricky. This […]

Financial Cooperatives

National courts may not question Commission decisions but they may ask the Court of Justice for guidance on how to interpret Commission decisions. Protection of shareholders of a particular category of companies is a selective measure. Introduction This is the last article dealing with the judgments that were rendered by EU courts on 21 December 2016. This article reviews the reply […]

Funding of the Spanish Public Broadcaster and Hypothecation of Taxes

Tax payers have grounds to object to a tax on the basis of Article 107(1) TFEU only when the tax is “asymmetrical” or when it is “hypothecated” to an aid measure.   Introduction On 10 November 2016, the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑449/14 P, DTS v European Commission.[1] DTS, a Spanish television company, appealed against the judgment of the General […]

Existing v New Aid and Role of National Courts

Modification of an existing aid measure turns it into a new aid measure if it affects its compatibility with the internal market. National courts must also notify to the Commission any new aid measure they detect.   Introduction On 26 October 2016, the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑590/14 P, DEI v Commission.[1] DEI, the incumbent electricity producer in Greece appealed against […]

No Affectation of Trade

Public subsidies that do not affect cross-border trade either directly or indirectly do not constitute State aid in the meaning of Article 107(1). The direct trade effect is the impact on customers or users. The indirect trade effect is the impact on potential market entrants.   Introduction In April 2015, the Commission surprised us with seven decisions that concluded that […]

Compatible State Aid May Have Negative Effects on some Market Operators

The existence of market failure is not necessary for aid to be declared compatible under Article 107(3). Market failure does not mean that the market is completely unable to supply a good or service. State aid aiming to remedy market failure may be compatible with the internal market even if it has a negative impact on some market operators.   […]

Local Infrastructure

Public funding of local infrastructure is not State aid when the responsibility for the infrastructure falls within the remit of public authorities, it is not commercially exploited, it is open to all users, it is not intended to support the needs of any particular undertaking and any benefits to any undertaking are incidental.   Introduction Even since the adoption of […]

The Boundaries of Non-Economic Infrastructure and the Limits of the Funding Gap Method

Public funding of assets which are used exclusively by certain undertakings constitutes State aid. If the state chooses to fund certain assets or activities, then it must do so consistently in all regions and in relation to all affected undertakings.   Introduction A typical mission of the state is to provide public goods. Normally public funding of public goods is […]

Possible Advantage from the Exclusive Use of Public-Funded Infrastructure

The exclusive use of a public asset or an asset funded by public money may confer an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU if several competitors express their interest to use the same asset.   Introduction As public authorities are becoming more aware that placing public assets at the disposal of undertakings can involve State aid, they increasingly […]

Special Tax Treatment to Alleviate Structural Disadvantages

Favourable tax treatment to alleviate “structural disadvantages” suffered by certain companies is a selective measure that falls within the scope of Article 107(1).   Introduction Member States use taxes not just to raise revenue but also as instruments of public policy. They impose taxes on activities they want to discourage [e.g. smoking, driving] and they relieve from taxes activities they […]

Compensation for Public Service Obligations and Compensation for Damage

Compensation for public service obligations is compatible with the internal market when, at minimum, a PSO is well defined in an entrustment constituting an official act of a public authority, the revenues and costs of the PSO are clearly identified and separated from other commercial activities and the compensation does not exceed the net extra costs of the PSO. Compensation […]

The Challenge of Calculating a Market Price

The market price of land or buildings can be determined via auction, expert valuation or other appropriate methods.   Introduction On 16 July 2015, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in case C‑39/14, BVVG Bodenverwertungs- und -verwaltungs GmbH [BVVG] v Landkreis Jerichower Land in Germany.[1] The judgment was in response to a request for a preliminary ruling concerning a dispute […]

PART II: Green Electricity and Reduction of Energy Taxes for Energy-Intensive Users

Part II: Support of electricity production from renewable energy sources is normally compatible with the internal market. Reduction of taxes on electricity used by energy-intensive industries is allowed only for certain sectors exposed to international trade and only when they bear a certain cost. Taxes on imported electricity normally infringe free-trade and non-discrimination provisions, unless commensurate benefits are extended to […]

Non-Commercial Public Infrastructure: Another Judgment, More Questions

Public infrastructure which is not exploited for commercial purposes does not result in an advantage for its users. Undertakings which are subject to different regulatory requirements can be treated differently. Cross-border trade can be affected even when there is no direct provision of cross-border services.   Introduction The Leipzig-Halle judgment of 2011 was a shock to public funding of infrastructure […]

- Article 107(1) TFEU ×

Belgium and COVID-19: The European Commission Approves Several Belgian State Aid Measures

corona virus
We are happy to share with you an update on the Covid-19 measures that have been approved in Belgium. Our guest auhor Wout De Cock is a PhD candidate at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and part-time teaching assistant at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven.* Introduction In issue 1/2020 of the European State Aid Law Quarterly, we concluded that the European Commission […]

Public Subsidies to Households Can Be State aid

Support for individual borrowers can be indirect State aid to banks.   Introduction The fact that a public measure has social objectives and aims to help poor households or disadvantaged persons instead of undertakings does not necessarily remove it from the reach of State aid rules. During the past decade, in response to the economic crisis, a number of Member […]

Can a Tax (rather than a Tax Exemption) Confer a Selective Advantage?

A tax that is levied at one level of government and does not apply to products and activities at a different level of government need not be selective. Introduction A tax exemption normally confers a selective advantage, unless it is justified by the logic of the tax. Counterintuitively, a tax itself can be selectively advantageous if its scope is too […]

The Recovery of Incompatible Aid Cannot be Absolutely Impossible Unless it is first Attempted

Introduction In its ruling of 6 November 2018 in cases C‑622/16 P to C‑624/16 P, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission, the Court of Justice made it harder for Member States to escape from their recovery obligations.[1] Montessori appealed against the judgment of the General Court in case T‑220/13, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission. That judgment was reviewed here on […]

Using the Correct Methodology to Calculate Public Service Compensation

Compensation for the extra costs of a public service obligation may include a reasonable profit that reflects the risk borne by the provider of the public service.   Introduction   The calculation of the amount of compensation for the extra costs of public service obligations can be difficult and tricky. In the absence of such calculation, aid to providers of […]

Ex ante Assessment of Future Profitability is Absolutely Necessary

A private investor assesses the prospects of future profitability before it invests. The burden of proof lies with the Member State that claims it has acted as a private investor.   Introduction The market economy investor principle is based on a simple premise: before you commit your money you need to check how much you are likely to get back. […]

The Compatibility of State Aid Depends on the Rules which are Applicable at the Time the Aid is Granted

Failure to comply with just a single provision of an exemption regulation results in the non-applicability of the whole regulation and makes any implemented aid measure automatically illegal. The compatibility of aid measures adopted in the past but continuing having effects are assessed not on the basis of old rules but on the basis of the rules which are applicable […]

The Definition of the Reference Tax System is still a Puzzle

A selective measure should be determined on the basis of its effects, not on the basis of the legally defined regulatory techniques.   Introduction A tax measure is selective in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU when it basically deviates from the normal tax system. In the case of a tax reduction or a tax exemption the normal system is […]

Danish Water Tax Exemption

A selective tax reduction does not constitute State aid if it does not confer an advantage that is proportionately larger than the magnitude of the tax reduction. A complete exemption of insignificant amounts of the taxable volume can be justified on the grounds of reducing administrative burden.     Introduction   Member States enjoy wide discretion to levy taxes on […]

Remedying the Damage of a Natural Disaster through Incentives for New Investments

Damage from natural disasters can be remedied in the short-term through direct compensation or in the longer-term through investment subsidies to support new productive capacity.   Introduction   This article reviews a rather straightforward case which, however, is also quite unusual. It concerns a measure to remedy the effect of recent earthquakes in Italy. What makes it unusual is that […]

Exemption from Taxes that Protect the Environment May not be Selective – Part I

Member States have discretion to impose taxes that penalise environmentally harmful activities. Exemption of undertakings whose activities do not harm the environment does not constitute State aid whenever the exempted undertakings are not in a comparable situation.   Application of Article 107(1) to the Asturias tax   In this case, exempted establishments were those with sales area less than 4000m2 or […]

Correct Pricing for the Use of Publicly Funded Infrastructure

Publicly funded infrastructure must be made available to users at prices that correspond to its market value.   Introduction   When publicly-funded infrastructure is placed at the disposal of an undertaking, that undertaking must pay a market price, otherwise it derives an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. But what is the market price? Is it the price […]

PART I: Concessions and State Aid: Does the State Act as a Regulator or Market Operator?

When Member States act as regulators they need not maximise revenue from the granting of concessions rights. When Member States act as regulators they must grant concession rights on the basis of procedures which are competitive, transparent, non-discriminatory and unconditional. Introduction   Is it possible for a public authority to grant State aid through a defective procurement procedure? The answer […]

i) Transfer of State Resources, ii) Non-recovery of Incompatible Aid, iii) Primacy of Agricultural Policy over Competition Policy

Private resources that come under the control of a public authority become state resources. The only defence for not recovering incompatible aid is absolute impossibility. Agricultural policy objectives take precedence over those of competition policy. Introduction This article reviews a case involving transfer of state resources and a case concerning failure to recovery of incompatible State aid. It also draws […]

Even the Catholic Church Is not Absolved from State Aid Rules: The Essence of Economic Activity – PART I

Purely religious activities and education funded by the state are not economic in nature. Introduction On 27 June 2017 the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑74/16, Congregación de Escuelas Pías Provincia Betania v Ayuntamiento de Getafe.[1] The ruling was in response to a request from a Spanish administrative court dealing with a tax dispute between religious schools and the municipality of […]

The Art, Science and Law of Funding Services of General Economic Interest

The compulsory nature of an assigned public mission makes the services covered by the mission different from those provided by market operators for profit.   Introduction The justification of government intervention for the purpose of ensuring delivery of adequate services of general economic interest [SGEI] and the design of measures that compensate providers of SGEI can be very tricky. This […]

Financial Cooperatives

National courts may not question Commission decisions but they may ask the Court of Justice for guidance on how to interpret Commission decisions. Protection of shareholders of a particular category of companies is a selective measure. Introduction This is the last article dealing with the judgments that were rendered by EU courts on 21 December 2016. This article reviews the reply […]

Funding of the Spanish Public Broadcaster and Hypothecation of Taxes

Tax payers have grounds to object to a tax on the basis of Article 107(1) TFEU only when the tax is “asymmetrical” or when it is “hypothecated” to an aid measure.   Introduction On 10 November 2016, the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑449/14 P, DTS v European Commission.[1] DTS, a Spanish television company, appealed against the judgment of the General […]

Existing v New Aid and Role of National Courts

Modification of an existing aid measure turns it into a new aid measure if it affects its compatibility with the internal market. National courts must also notify to the Commission any new aid measure they detect.   Introduction On 26 October 2016, the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑590/14 P, DEI v Commission.[1] DEI, the incumbent electricity producer in Greece appealed against […]

No Affectation of Trade

Public subsidies that do not affect cross-border trade either directly or indirectly do not constitute State aid in the meaning of Article 107(1). The direct trade effect is the impact on customers or users. The indirect trade effect is the impact on potential market entrants.   Introduction In April 2015, the Commission surprised us with seven decisions that concluded that […]

Compatible State Aid May Have Negative Effects on some Market Operators

The existence of market failure is not necessary for aid to be declared compatible under Article 107(3). Market failure does not mean that the market is completely unable to supply a good or service. State aid aiming to remedy market failure may be compatible with the internal market even if it has a negative impact on some market operators.   […]

Local Infrastructure

Public funding of local infrastructure is not State aid when the responsibility for the infrastructure falls within the remit of public authorities, it is not commercially exploited, it is open to all users, it is not intended to support the needs of any particular undertaking and any benefits to any undertaking are incidental.   Introduction Even since the adoption of […]

The Boundaries of Non-Economic Infrastructure and the Limits of the Funding Gap Method

Public funding of assets which are used exclusively by certain undertakings constitutes State aid. If the state chooses to fund certain assets or activities, then it must do so consistently in all regions and in relation to all affected undertakings.   Introduction A typical mission of the state is to provide public goods. Normally public funding of public goods is […]

Possible Advantage from the Exclusive Use of Public-Funded Infrastructure

The exclusive use of a public asset or an asset funded by public money may confer an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU if several competitors express their interest to use the same asset.   Introduction As public authorities are becoming more aware that placing public assets at the disposal of undertakings can involve State aid, they increasingly […]

Special Tax Treatment to Alleviate Structural Disadvantages

Favourable tax treatment to alleviate “structural disadvantages” suffered by certain companies is a selective measure that falls within the scope of Article 107(1).   Introduction Member States use taxes not just to raise revenue but also as instruments of public policy. They impose taxes on activities they want to discourage [e.g. smoking, driving] and they relieve from taxes activities they […]

Compensation for Public Service Obligations and Compensation for Damage

Compensation for public service obligations is compatible with the internal market when, at minimum, a PSO is well defined in an entrustment constituting an official act of a public authority, the revenues and costs of the PSO are clearly identified and separated from other commercial activities and the compensation does not exceed the net extra costs of the PSO. Compensation […]

The Challenge of Calculating a Market Price

The market price of land or buildings can be determined via auction, expert valuation or other appropriate methods.   Introduction On 16 July 2015, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in case C‑39/14, BVVG Bodenverwertungs- und -verwaltungs GmbH [BVVG] v Landkreis Jerichower Land in Germany.[1] The judgment was in response to a request for a preliminary ruling concerning a dispute […]

PART II: Green Electricity and Reduction of Energy Taxes for Energy-Intensive Users

Part II: Support of electricity production from renewable energy sources is normally compatible with the internal market. Reduction of taxes on electricity used by energy-intensive industries is allowed only for certain sectors exposed to international trade and only when they bear a certain cost. Taxes on imported electricity normally infringe free-trade and non-discrimination provisions, unless commensurate benefits are extended to […]

Non-Commercial Public Infrastructure: Another Judgment, More Questions

Public infrastructure which is not exploited for commercial purposes does not result in an advantage for its users. Undertakings which are subject to different regulatory requirements can be treated differently. Cross-border trade can be affected even when there is no direct provision of cross-border services.   Introduction The Leipzig-Halle judgment of 2011 was a shock to public funding of infrastructure […]

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 post as a Word file to stateaidhub[a]lexxion.eu.

Step 2: The StateAidHub team 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 send you a link to register and log-in to the Blog as a guest author.

Step 4: Once you have logged-in to the blog, you can upload and publish your post.

Step 5: Enjoy the fame!

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