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!

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

State Aid Uncovered - selectivity ×

Special Economic Zones

Member States must check that the State aid claimed by undertakings established in special economic zones concern activities that are actually carried out within those zones. Introduction Several Member States have special economic zones in which companies enjoy preferential tax treatment. These zones can be divided into two categories: those that can be found mostly in the new Member States […]

Territoriality and the Tax Treatment of Intra-group Transactions

A special tax rule can constitute the reference or normal system of taxation if it is “severable” from other tax rules and has its own legal logic. Introduction The application of State aid rules to the tax treatment of transactions between companies that belong to the same multinational group is contentious. During the past three years or so, the Commission […]

A Non-Selective Financial Tax with a Narrow Scope

The scope of a tax must be objectively defined in order for those excluded from the tax not to benefit from a selective advantage. Introduction Taxes are burdens, so they fall outside the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU which prohibits selective benefits funded with state resources. Normally, Article 107(1) applies to benefits from tax exemptions or tax derogations which result […]

How to Determine Selectivity

A measure is selective when it excludes undertakings that are equally capable of contributing to the achievement of its objectives. Introduction Since no two undertakings are exactly the same, how can it be determined whether they are in a comparable situation? Differences in their features such as size or the type of technology they use do not necessarily mean that […]

Selectivity and Tax Measures

The reference system for determining the selectivity of a tax measure must have its own logic and be autonomous and its identification depends on the content, structure and specific effects of the applicable rules. A measure that does not exclude any particular undertaking can be selective if it treats differently undertakings which are in similar situations. Introduction On 6 October […]

Compensatory Payments and State Resources

Funds used in compensation mechanisms mandated by the state become state resources Introduction The Court of Justice has stressed repeatedly that any resource over which the state can exercise control becomes a state resource, regardless of whether it is managed by a public authority or a private entity. Member States, however, keep inventing novel and complicated arrangements in which mandated […]

It is Difficult to Challenge a Commission Decision Opening the Formal Investigation Procedure

The assessment of the Commission in an “opening decision” is only provisional. The Commission is not required to prioritise its investigations or to extend them to anyone who may be in a similar situation. The right of non-discrimination is not violated when the Commission chooses to investigate some instead of all possible cases of State aid. An individual measure that […]

Amazon and the Difficulty of Finding a Comparable Tax Payer

To apply the Arm’s Length Principle to transactions between two related companies, the Commission must identify the less complex company of the two and compare it to a similar independent company. Methodological errors in the application of the Arm’s Length Principle by national authorities does not necessarily prove the existence of advantage. Introduction On 12 May 2021 the Commission suffered […]

State Aid Measures May not be Funded through Discriminatory Taxes

A tax that is levied on both imported and domestic products but its revenue finances only domestic products infringes fundamental provisions of the EU Treaty. Introduction Member States finance the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources [RES] with revenue they raise through levies or charges on consumers of electricity. On 14 April 2021, the General Court in judgment in […]

Turnover Taxes Can Be Progressive without Being Selective

Progressive rates can be part of a reference tax system. The reference tax system is, in principle, made up of the tax base, the tax rates and the taxable events. Introduction Progressive turnover taxes were thought to be selective because they are levied on gross revenue before costs are deducted and larger volumes of revenue are taxed at higher rates. […]

State Aid Uncovered - selectivity ×

Special Economic Zones

Member States must check that the State aid claimed by undertakings established in special economic zones concern activities that are actually carried out within those zones. Introduction Several Member States have special economic zones in which companies enjoy preferential tax treatment. These zones can be divided into two categories: those that can be found mostly in the new Member States […]

Territoriality and the Tax Treatment of Intra-group Transactions

A special tax rule can constitute the reference or normal system of taxation if it is “severable” from other tax rules and has its own legal logic. Introduction The application of State aid rules to the tax treatment of transactions between companies that belong to the same multinational group is contentious. During the past three years or so, the Commission […]

A Non-Selective Financial Tax with a Narrow Scope

The scope of a tax must be objectively defined in order for those excluded from the tax not to benefit from a selective advantage. Introduction Taxes are burdens, so they fall outside the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU which prohibits selective benefits funded with state resources. Normally, Article 107(1) applies to benefits from tax exemptions or tax derogations which result […]

How to Determine Selectivity

A measure is selective when it excludes undertakings that are equally capable of contributing to the achievement of its objectives. Introduction Since no two undertakings are exactly the same, how can it be determined whether they are in a comparable situation? Differences in their features such as size or the type of technology they use do not necessarily mean that […]

Selectivity and Tax Measures

The reference system for determining the selectivity of a tax measure must have its own logic and be autonomous and its identification depends on the content, structure and specific effects of the applicable rules. A measure that does not exclude any particular undertaking can be selective if it treats differently undertakings which are in similar situations. Introduction On 6 October […]

Compensatory Payments and State Resources

Funds used in compensation mechanisms mandated by the state become state resources Introduction The Court of Justice has stressed repeatedly that any resource over which the state can exercise control becomes a state resource, regardless of whether it is managed by a public authority or a private entity. Member States, however, keep inventing novel and complicated arrangements in which mandated […]

It is Difficult to Challenge a Commission Decision Opening the Formal Investigation Procedure

The assessment of the Commission in an “opening decision” is only provisional. The Commission is not required to prioritise its investigations or to extend them to anyone who may be in a similar situation. The right of non-discrimination is not violated when the Commission chooses to investigate some instead of all possible cases of State aid. An individual measure that […]

Amazon and the Difficulty of Finding a Comparable Tax Payer

To apply the Arm’s Length Principle to transactions between two related companies, the Commission must identify the less complex company of the two and compare it to a similar independent company. Methodological errors in the application of the Arm’s Length Principle by national authorities does not necessarily prove the existence of advantage. Introduction On 12 May 2021 the Commission suffered […]

State Aid Measures May not be Funded through Discriminatory Taxes

A tax that is levied on both imported and domestic products but its revenue finances only domestic products infringes fundamental provisions of the EU Treaty. Introduction Member States finance the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources [RES] with revenue they raise through levies or charges on consumers of electricity. On 14 April 2021, the General Court in judgment in […]

Turnover Taxes Can Be Progressive without Being Selective

Progressive rates can be part of a reference tax system. The reference tax system is, in principle, made up of the tax base, the tax rates and the taxable events. Introduction Progressive turnover taxes were thought to be selective because they are levied on gross revenue before costs are deducted and larger volumes of revenue are taxed at higher rates. […]

State Aid Uncovered - selectivity ×

Special Economic Zones

Member States must check that the State aid claimed by undertakings established in special economic zones concern activities that are actually carried out within those zones. Introduction Several Member States have special economic zones in which companies enjoy preferential tax treatment. These zones can be divided into two categories: those that can be found mostly in the new Member States […]

Territoriality and the Tax Treatment of Intra-group Transactions

A special tax rule can constitute the reference or normal system of taxation if it is “severable” from other tax rules and has its own legal logic. Introduction The application of State aid rules to the tax treatment of transactions between companies that belong to the same multinational group is contentious. During the past three years or so, the Commission […]

A Non-Selective Financial Tax with a Narrow Scope

The scope of a tax must be objectively defined in order for those excluded from the tax not to benefit from a selective advantage. Introduction Taxes are burdens, so they fall outside the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU which prohibits selective benefits funded with state resources. Normally, Article 107(1) applies to benefits from tax exemptions or tax derogations which result […]

How to Determine Selectivity

A measure is selective when it excludes undertakings that are equally capable of contributing to the achievement of its objectives. Introduction Since no two undertakings are exactly the same, how can it be determined whether they are in a comparable situation? Differences in their features such as size or the type of technology they use do not necessarily mean that […]

Selectivity and Tax Measures

The reference system for determining the selectivity of a tax measure must have its own logic and be autonomous and its identification depends on the content, structure and specific effects of the applicable rules. A measure that does not exclude any particular undertaking can be selective if it treats differently undertakings which are in similar situations. Introduction On 6 October […]

Compensatory Payments and State Resources

Funds used in compensation mechanisms mandated by the state become state resources Introduction The Court of Justice has stressed repeatedly that any resource over which the state can exercise control becomes a state resource, regardless of whether it is managed by a public authority or a private entity. Member States, however, keep inventing novel and complicated arrangements in which mandated […]

It is Difficult to Challenge a Commission Decision Opening the Formal Investigation Procedure

The assessment of the Commission in an “opening decision” is only provisional. The Commission is not required to prioritise its investigations or to extend them to anyone who may be in a similar situation. The right of non-discrimination is not violated when the Commission chooses to investigate some instead of all possible cases of State aid. An individual measure that […]

Amazon and the Difficulty of Finding a Comparable Tax Payer

To apply the Arm’s Length Principle to transactions between two related companies, the Commission must identify the less complex company of the two and compare it to a similar independent company. Methodological errors in the application of the Arm’s Length Principle by national authorities does not necessarily prove the existence of advantage. Introduction On 12 May 2021 the Commission suffered […]

State Aid Measures May not be Funded through Discriminatory Taxes

A tax that is levied on both imported and domestic products but its revenue finances only domestic products infringes fundamental provisions of the EU Treaty. Introduction Member States finance the generation of electricity from renewable energy sources [RES] with revenue they raise through levies or charges on consumers of electricity. On 14 April 2021, the General Court in judgment in […]

Turnover Taxes Can Be Progressive without Being Selective

Progressive rates can be part of a reference tax system. The reference tax system is, in principle, made up of the tax base, the tax rates and the taxable events. Introduction Progressive turnover taxes were thought to be selective because they are levied on gross revenue before costs are deducted and larger volumes of revenue are taxed at higher rates. […]

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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