State Aid Law Blog

State Aid Uncovered 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 ×

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 […]

Compensation for Damage

Introduction On 28 September 2023, the Court of Justice, in case C-320/21 P, Ryanair v European Commission, delivered its first judgment in a series of appeals brought by Ryanair challenging the dismissal by the General Court of its action in multiple cases seeking the annulment of various Commission decisions authorising aid to airlines during the covid-19 pandemic. Both before the […]

Advance Tax Rulings

Introduction In 2016, the Commission found, in decision 2016/1699, that advance tax rulings [ATRs] that had been provided by Belgium to multi-national companies [MNCs] with establishments in Belgium constituted State aid because the ATRs set the taxable income of those companies according to a hypothetical average income rather than their actual income. The profit that exceeded that hypothetical average was […]

Non-imposition of Fines on Non-illegal Behaviour

Introduction Advantage is any benefit that an undertaking obtains from the intervention of the state. In some situations, however, an undertaking may derive an advantage the non-intervention of the state or, more broadly, from the failure of the state to act. This would be the case where the state does not charge a fee to a user of a state […]

State Aid Uncovered ×

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 […]

Compensation for Damage

Introduction On 28 September 2023, the Court of Justice, in case C-320/21 P, Ryanair v European Commission, delivered its first judgment in a series of appeals brought by Ryanair challenging the dismissal by the General Court of its action in multiple cases seeking the annulment of various Commission decisions authorising aid to airlines during the covid-19 pandemic. Both before the […]

Advance Tax Rulings

Introduction In 2016, the Commission found, in decision 2016/1699, that advance tax rulings [ATRs] that had been provided by Belgium to multi-national companies [MNCs] with establishments in Belgium constituted State aid because the ATRs set the taxable income of those companies according to a hypothetical average income rather than their actual income. The profit that exceeded that hypothetical average was […]

Non-imposition of Fines on Non-illegal Behaviour

Introduction Advantage is any benefit that an undertaking obtains from the intervention of the state. In some situations, however, an undertaking may derive an advantage the non-intervention of the state or, more broadly, from the failure of the state to act. This would be the case where the state does not charge a fee to a user of a state […]

State Aid Uncovered ×

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 […]

Compensation for Damage

Introduction On 28 September 2023, the Court of Justice, in case C-320/21 P, Ryanair v European Commission, delivered its first judgment in a series of appeals brought by Ryanair challenging the dismissal by the General Court of its action in multiple cases seeking the annulment of various Commission decisions authorising aid to airlines during the covid-19 pandemic. Both before the […]

Advance Tax Rulings

Introduction In 2016, the Commission found, in decision 2016/1699, that advance tax rulings [ATRs] that had been provided by Belgium to multi-national companies [MNCs] with establishments in Belgium constituted State aid because the ATRs set the taxable income of those companies according to a hypothetical average income rather than their actual income. The profit that exceeded that hypothetical average was […]

Non-imposition of Fines on Non-illegal Behaviour

Introduction Advantage is any benefit that an undertaking obtains from the intervention of the state. In some situations, however, an undertaking may derive an advantage the non-intervention of the state or, more broadly, from the failure of the state to act. This would be the case where the state does not charge a fee to a user of a state […]

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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