State Aid Law Blog

State Aid Uncovered by Prof Phedon Nicolaides

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

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

- selectivity ×

Aid Measures with Limited Beneficiaries

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

Obligations Imposed by the State Cannot Justify Tax Exemptions

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

Special Tax Treatment for a Major Infrastructure Project

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

A Case of a Narrow Tax that Is Not Selective

Introduction On 17 April 2024, the General Court ruled, in case T-112/22, Ideella föreningen Svenska Bankföreningen med firma Svenska Bankföreningen, Näringsverksamhet & Länsförsäkringar Bank v Commission, that a Swedish tax on only nine banks was not selective by not taxing the many smaller banks.1 The applicants, a Swedish banking association and a Swedish bank, respectively, sought the annulment of Commission […]

The Court of Justice Conflates Objective Justification with Policy Objective, in the context of Public Support of Green Electricity

Introduction Suppose a Member State subsidises the installation of solar panels on the roof of a corporate building situated at number 5 on Main Street. Is this a general measure because there is no other building in the whole country with the same address? Of course, it is not a general measure. The uniqueness of the address is irrelevant. Apart […]

Undertakings May also Carry out Non-economic Activities

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

Selectivity

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

The Consequence of the Tax Autonomy of Member States

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

Member States Have Discretion to Determine their Own Tax System and Interpret its Provisions

Introduction In the landmark cases on turnover taxes implemented by Hungary and Poland, the Court of Justice censured the European Commission for defining its own hypothetical reference tax system that was different from the relevant tax provisions in those two countries. The Court again faulted the Commission in its more recent judgments on advance tax rulings. Given the discretion of […]

Whether a Tax Measure Grants New Aid Must also be Assessed in the Context of the Relevant National Case Law

Introduction The application of the concept of selectivity to tax measures requires a comparison of undertakings or activities that are in a similar factual or legal situation. A tax measure that differentiates between similar undertakings or activities is selective in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU, unless the differentiation can be justified on objective reasons. It follows that the proper […]

- selectivity ×

Aid Measures with Limited Beneficiaries

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

Obligations Imposed by the State Cannot Justify Tax Exemptions

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

Special Tax Treatment for a Major Infrastructure Project

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

A Case of a Narrow Tax that Is Not Selective

Introduction On 17 April 2024, the General Court ruled, in case T-112/22, Ideella föreningen Svenska Bankföreningen med firma Svenska Bankföreningen, Näringsverksamhet & Länsförsäkringar Bank v Commission, that a Swedish tax on only nine banks was not selective by not taxing the many smaller banks.1 The applicants, a Swedish banking association and a Swedish bank, respectively, sought the annulment of Commission […]

The Court of Justice Conflates Objective Justification with Policy Objective, in the context of Public Support of Green Electricity

Introduction Suppose a Member State subsidises the installation of solar panels on the roof of a corporate building situated at number 5 on Main Street. Is this a general measure because there is no other building in the whole country with the same address? Of course, it is not a general measure. The uniqueness of the address is irrelevant. Apart […]

Undertakings May also Carry out Non-economic Activities

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

Selectivity

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

The Consequence of the Tax Autonomy of Member States

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

Member States Have Discretion to Determine their Own Tax System and Interpret its Provisions

Introduction In the landmark cases on turnover taxes implemented by Hungary and Poland, the Court of Justice censured the European Commission for defining its own hypothetical reference tax system that was different from the relevant tax provisions in those two countries. The Court again faulted the Commission in its more recent judgments on advance tax rulings. Given the discretion of […]

Whether a Tax Measure Grants New Aid Must also be Assessed in the Context of the Relevant National Case Law

Introduction The application of the concept of selectivity to tax measures requires a comparison of undertakings or activities that are in a similar factual or legal situation. A tax measure that differentiates between similar undertakings or activities is selective in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU, unless the differentiation can be justified on objective reasons. It follows that the proper […]

- selectivity ×

Aid Measures with Limited Beneficiaries

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

Obligations Imposed by the State Cannot Justify Tax Exemptions

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

Special Tax Treatment for a Major Infrastructure Project

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

A Case of a Narrow Tax that Is Not Selective

Introduction On 17 April 2024, the General Court ruled, in case T-112/22, Ideella föreningen Svenska Bankföreningen med firma Svenska Bankföreningen, Näringsverksamhet & Länsförsäkringar Bank v Commission, that a Swedish tax on only nine banks was not selective by not taxing the many smaller banks.1 The applicants, a Swedish banking association and a Swedish bank, respectively, sought the annulment of Commission […]

The Court of Justice Conflates Objective Justification with Policy Objective, in the context of Public Support of Green Electricity

Introduction Suppose a Member State subsidises the installation of solar panels on the roof of a corporate building situated at number 5 on Main Street. Is this a general measure because there is no other building in the whole country with the same address? Of course, it is not a general measure. The uniqueness of the address is irrelevant. Apart […]

Undertakings May also Carry out Non-economic Activities

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

Selectivity

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

The Consequence of the Tax Autonomy of Member States

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

Member States Have Discretion to Determine their Own Tax System and Interpret its Provisions

Introduction In the landmark cases on turnover taxes implemented by Hungary and Poland, the Court of Justice censured the European Commission for defining its own hypothetical reference tax system that was different from the relevant tax provisions in those two countries. The Court again faulted the Commission in its more recent judgments on advance tax rulings. Given the discretion of […]

Whether a Tax Measure Grants New Aid Must also be Assessed in the Context of the Relevant National Case Law

Introduction The application of the concept of selectivity to tax measures requires a comparison of undertakings or activities that are in a similar factual or legal situation. A tax measure that differentiates between similar undertakings or activities is selective in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU, unless the differentiation can be justified on objective reasons. It follows that the proper […]

How to Submit a Blog Post

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

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

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

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

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

Submit your guest blog post

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