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.

Join the debate now!

- The Commission ×

How to Assess a Shareholder Loan

A shareholder loan cannot be simply compared to a bank loan because the shareholder also benefits from improvements in the future profitability of the borrower. Introduction When a public authority grants a loan to a company, the methodology in the 2008 Commission communication on reference and discount rates can be used to determine whether the loan contains State aid. However, […]

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. […]

Risk Finance

Risk finance measures for the support for large enterprises or SMEs which operate for longer than seven years fall outside the GBER and must be notified individually to the Commission. Introduction Since the State aid modernisation and the new rules that were introduced in 2014, only a handful of risk finance measures [7-8?] have been notified to the European Commission […]

Is it OK to Tax Company Size?*

Progressive tax rates that are consistent with the objective of the tax system are not necessarily selective. Introduction Member States are free to design their corporate tax systems as long as they do not grant State aid or infringe fundamental internal market freedoms. A question that arises in discussions on what Member States may or may not do when designing […]

Competitors’ Rights

A competitor must show that it is substantially affected by State aid approved by the Commission in order to challenge the Commission’s decision. Merely being affected by the aid is not enough. To show that aid has a substantial impact, it is first necessary to define the relevant market. This is different from the “distortion of competition” in the meaning […]

The Commission Must Explain its Decision

A Commission decision that affects the legal position of an undertaking is actionable before EU courts. The opening of the formal investigation procedure must lead the Member State concerned to suspend the aid measure and may result in a recovery ruling by a national court. The Commission must be consistent in its reasoning. If it cannot use certain information at […]

The Boundary between State and Private Resources

Discretion in the form of intervention can remove it from the control of the state.   Introduction Suppose a thug puts a gun to your head and demands your wallet. Because you have sentimental photos in your wallet, you offer instead the keys to your car. You would rather lose the car than the wallet. Can the thug claim in […]

National Authorities Must Recover Aid they Grant Mistakenly

Assurances from granting authorities cannot guarantee the legality of State aid. Aid recipients must verify that the aid is granted correctly.   Introduction The Commission must stop its misguided policy of not making public the answers it provides to Member States on questions of interpretation of the General Block Exemption Regulation [GBER]. This is one of the consequences of a […]

How Can Incompatible State Aid Be Passed-on from one Company to another to Avoid Recovery?

Introduction State aid that is incompatible with the internal market has to be paid back, unless the repayment would be contrary to a general principle of EU law. Last November the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑622/16 P, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission that “(79) the principle that ‘no one is obliged to do the impossible’ is among the […]

What Does a Private Investor Take into Account before Investing?

A private investor may invest in a troubled company that is restructuring is order to increase its future profitability.   Introduction   The answer to the question posed above is short and simple: everything relevant. A private investor does not ignore anything that can affect the profitability of the prospective investment.This implies that the other side of the coin is […]

Public Service Obligations Must be Properly Defined and Selectivity Must be Proven [1]

Neither the existence of market failure, nor national laws that designate a service to be in the general interest can replace an official act that assigns to one or more undertakings clearly defined public service obligations.   Introduction The proper definition of public service obligations (PSOs) is an issue that arises with surprising regularity. It is surprising because numerous court […]

Selectivity Can Exist at Different Levels: The Case of the Spanish Tax Lease System

transport ship
A tax measure may be selective in relation to both intermediate and final beneficiaries.  An undertaking may enjoy a selective advantage even if it passes all tax benefits to other parties.   Introduction A measure that is not selective at one level may be selective at another level and a measure that is selective at one level can also be […]

Sector-Specific Tax Exemptions

A measure that covers a whole sector can be selective. Distortions caused by the policies of other Member States cannot justify the granting of State aid. The purpose of State aid is not to ensure equal conditions of competition across Member States.   Introduction On 31 May 2018, the General Court ruled in case T-160/16, Groningen Seaports v European Commission.[1] Groningen […]

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 […]

Beneficiaries and Benefits of State Guarantees

A state guarantee is presumed to lower borrowing costs. However, any other benefits in relation to customers or suppliers have to be proven.   Introduction On 26 May 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T-479/11, France v Commission concerning the IFP.[1] France appealed against Commission decision 2012/26 which found that France granted aid to IFP. IFP iIFP s […]

- The Commission ×

How to Assess a Shareholder Loan

A shareholder loan cannot be simply compared to a bank loan because the shareholder also benefits from improvements in the future profitability of the borrower. Introduction When a public authority grants a loan to a company, the methodology in the 2008 Commission communication on reference and discount rates can be used to determine whether the loan contains State aid. However, […]

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. […]

Risk Finance

Risk finance measures for the support for large enterprises or SMEs which operate for longer than seven years fall outside the GBER and must be notified individually to the Commission. Introduction Since the State aid modernisation and the new rules that were introduced in 2014, only a handful of risk finance measures [7-8?] have been notified to the European Commission […]

Is it OK to Tax Company Size?*

Progressive tax rates that are consistent with the objective of the tax system are not necessarily selective. Introduction Member States are free to design their corporate tax systems as long as they do not grant State aid or infringe fundamental internal market freedoms. A question that arises in discussions on what Member States may or may not do when designing […]

Competitors’ Rights

A competitor must show that it is substantially affected by State aid approved by the Commission in order to challenge the Commission’s decision. Merely being affected by the aid is not enough. To show that aid has a substantial impact, it is first necessary to define the relevant market. This is different from the “distortion of competition” in the meaning […]

The Commission Must Explain its Decision

A Commission decision that affects the legal position of an undertaking is actionable before EU courts. The opening of the formal investigation procedure must lead the Member State concerned to suspend the aid measure and may result in a recovery ruling by a national court. The Commission must be consistent in its reasoning. If it cannot use certain information at […]

The Boundary between State and Private Resources

Discretion in the form of intervention can remove it from the control of the state.   Introduction Suppose a thug puts a gun to your head and demands your wallet. Because you have sentimental photos in your wallet, you offer instead the keys to your car. You would rather lose the car than the wallet. Can the thug claim in […]

National Authorities Must Recover Aid they Grant Mistakenly

Assurances from granting authorities cannot guarantee the legality of State aid. Aid recipients must verify that the aid is granted correctly.   Introduction The Commission must stop its misguided policy of not making public the answers it provides to Member States on questions of interpretation of the General Block Exemption Regulation [GBER]. This is one of the consequences of a […]

How Can Incompatible State Aid Be Passed-on from one Company to another to Avoid Recovery?

Introduction State aid that is incompatible with the internal market has to be paid back, unless the repayment would be contrary to a general principle of EU law. Last November the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑622/16 P, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission that “(79) the principle that ‘no one is obliged to do the impossible’ is among the […]

What Does a Private Investor Take into Account before Investing?

A private investor may invest in a troubled company that is restructuring is order to increase its future profitability.   Introduction   The answer to the question posed above is short and simple: everything relevant. A private investor does not ignore anything that can affect the profitability of the prospective investment.This implies that the other side of the coin is […]

Public Service Obligations Must be Properly Defined and Selectivity Must be Proven [1]

Neither the existence of market failure, nor national laws that designate a service to be in the general interest can replace an official act that assigns to one or more undertakings clearly defined public service obligations.   Introduction The proper definition of public service obligations (PSOs) is an issue that arises with surprising regularity. It is surprising because numerous court […]

Selectivity Can Exist at Different Levels: The Case of the Spanish Tax Lease System

transport ship
A tax measure may be selective in relation to both intermediate and final beneficiaries.  An undertaking may enjoy a selective advantage even if it passes all tax benefits to other parties.   Introduction A measure that is not selective at one level may be selective at another level and a measure that is selective at one level can also be […]

Sector-Specific Tax Exemptions

A measure that covers a whole sector can be selective. Distortions caused by the policies of other Member States cannot justify the granting of State aid. The purpose of State aid is not to ensure equal conditions of competition across Member States.   Introduction On 31 May 2018, the General Court ruled in case T-160/16, Groningen Seaports v European Commission.[1] Groningen […]

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 […]

Beneficiaries and Benefits of State Guarantees

A state guarantee is presumed to lower borrowing costs. However, any other benefits in relation to customers or suppliers have to be proven.   Introduction On 26 May 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T-479/11, France v Commission concerning the IFP.[1] France appealed against Commission decision 2012/26 which found that France granted aid to IFP. IFP iIFP s […]

- The Commission ×

How to Assess a Shareholder Loan

A shareholder loan cannot be simply compared to a bank loan because the shareholder also benefits from improvements in the future profitability of the borrower. Introduction When a public authority grants a loan to a company, the methodology in the 2008 Commission communication on reference and discount rates can be used to determine whether the loan contains State aid. However, […]

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. […]

Risk Finance

Risk finance measures for the support for large enterprises or SMEs which operate for longer than seven years fall outside the GBER and must be notified individually to the Commission. Introduction Since the State aid modernisation and the new rules that were introduced in 2014, only a handful of risk finance measures [7-8?] have been notified to the European Commission […]

Is it OK to Tax Company Size?*

Progressive tax rates that are consistent with the objective of the tax system are not necessarily selective. Introduction Member States are free to design their corporate tax systems as long as they do not grant State aid or infringe fundamental internal market freedoms. A question that arises in discussions on what Member States may or may not do when designing […]

Competitors’ Rights

A competitor must show that it is substantially affected by State aid approved by the Commission in order to challenge the Commission’s decision. Merely being affected by the aid is not enough. To show that aid has a substantial impact, it is first necessary to define the relevant market. This is different from the “distortion of competition” in the meaning […]

The Commission Must Explain its Decision

A Commission decision that affects the legal position of an undertaking is actionable before EU courts. The opening of the formal investigation procedure must lead the Member State concerned to suspend the aid measure and may result in a recovery ruling by a national court. The Commission must be consistent in its reasoning. If it cannot use certain information at […]

The Boundary between State and Private Resources

Discretion in the form of intervention can remove it from the control of the state.   Introduction Suppose a thug puts a gun to your head and demands your wallet. Because you have sentimental photos in your wallet, you offer instead the keys to your car. You would rather lose the car than the wallet. Can the thug claim in […]

National Authorities Must Recover Aid they Grant Mistakenly

Assurances from granting authorities cannot guarantee the legality of State aid. Aid recipients must verify that the aid is granted correctly.   Introduction The Commission must stop its misguided policy of not making public the answers it provides to Member States on questions of interpretation of the General Block Exemption Regulation [GBER]. This is one of the consequences of a […]

How Can Incompatible State Aid Be Passed-on from one Company to another to Avoid Recovery?

Introduction State aid that is incompatible with the internal market has to be paid back, unless the repayment would be contrary to a general principle of EU law. Last November the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑622/16 P, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission that “(79) the principle that ‘no one is obliged to do the impossible’ is among the […]

What Does a Private Investor Take into Account before Investing?

A private investor may invest in a troubled company that is restructuring is order to increase its future profitability.   Introduction   The answer to the question posed above is short and simple: everything relevant. A private investor does not ignore anything that can affect the profitability of the prospective investment.This implies that the other side of the coin is […]

Public Service Obligations Must be Properly Defined and Selectivity Must be Proven [1]

Neither the existence of market failure, nor national laws that designate a service to be in the general interest can replace an official act that assigns to one or more undertakings clearly defined public service obligations.   Introduction The proper definition of public service obligations (PSOs) is an issue that arises with surprising regularity. It is surprising because numerous court […]

Selectivity Can Exist at Different Levels: The Case of the Spanish Tax Lease System

transport ship
A tax measure may be selective in relation to both intermediate and final beneficiaries.  An undertaking may enjoy a selective advantage even if it passes all tax benefits to other parties.   Introduction A measure that is not selective at one level may be selective at another level and a measure that is selective at one level can also be […]

Sector-Specific Tax Exemptions

A measure that covers a whole sector can be selective. Distortions caused by the policies of other Member States cannot justify the granting of State aid. The purpose of State aid is not to ensure equal conditions of competition across Member States.   Introduction On 31 May 2018, the General Court ruled in case T-160/16, Groningen Seaports v European Commission.[1] Groningen […]

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 […]

Beneficiaries and Benefits of State Guarantees

A state guarantee is presumed to lower borrowing costs. However, any other benefits in relation to customers or suppliers have to be proven.   Introduction On 26 May 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T-479/11, France v Commission concerning the IFP.[1] France appealed against Commission decision 2012/26 which found that France granted aid to IFP. IFP iIFP s […]

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!

Submit your guest blog post

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