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!

- Public Service Obligations ×

EU Decisions Override National Decisions on Compensation for Public Service Obligations

The principle of res judicata cannot be used to avoid recovery of incompatible State aid.   An update on State aid measures to counter the impact of COVID-19 As of 3 April 2020, the Commission has approved 29 measures submitted by 16 Member States. Article 107(3)(b) is the legal basis for 26 of those measures, while Article 107(2)(b) is the […]

How to Compensate for the Extra Cost of Public Service Obligations: Step-by-Step Guidance on a Complex Calculation

The “net avoided cost methodology” takes into account only incremental costs. Introduction The two most difficult issues in the design of State aid measures to support services of general economic interest [SGEI] are the proper definition of the public service obligation [PSO] and the identification of the “counterfactual” on the basis of which the public service compensation [PSC] is calculated. […]

Public Service Obligations, Duration of Entrustment and Reasonable Profit

The duration of entrustment should not exceed the economic life of the investment and the rate of return should reflect the commercial risk of that investment. Introduction Is a 55-year entrustment through a direct award compatible with EU rules? And is a profit rate that exceeds the risk-free rate of return reasonable? These are some of the questions that the […]

Services of General Economic Interest: Proper Definition and Avoidance of Overcompensation

Member States need to demonstrate that public service obligations imposed on undertakings are necessary and proportional to the need for public service. A change in the funding of public services does not constitute new aid if it does not alter its objectives, the beneficiaries or the amount of aid by more than 20%.   Introduction It is a well-established principle […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Scope of Public Service Obligations

Public service obligations may cover both profitable and unprofitable segments of the market.   Introduction 18 January 2017, the General Court delivered its judgment in case T-92/11 RENV, Jørgen Andersen, v European Commission.[1] Mr Andersen appealed against Commission Decision 2011/3 which concluded that public service contracts between the Danish Ministry of Transport and Danske Statsbaner [DSB], the incumbent train operator, contained […]

A Primer on Compensation for the Extra Costs of Public Service Obligations Taking into Account Efficiency Gains

When Member States impose PSOs they are never allowed to grant even a single euro in excess of the net extra costs of the PSO. That is prohibited for the simple reason that it results in over-compensation.     Introduction The Lexxion seminar on state aid for transport and transport infrastructure that took place in Brussels on 21-22 September (view […]

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 […]

Public Service Obligations: A Few More Mistakes that Can Be Avoided

Even efficient companies will fail the 4th Altmark criterion if their costs are not proven to be comparable to those of a typical and well-equipped undertaking. Public funding of infrastructure is not State aid to users only if access is open to all. Public funding for training to raise social awareness is still State aid if it relieves companies of […]

i) Environmental Harm Does Not Make State Aid Incompatible with the Internal Market ii) the Market Economy Investor Principle Applied to Monopolies

Security of energy supply can be a service of general economic interest. Avoiding harm to the environment is not one of the principles that underpin the internal market and which may not be violated by State aid measures. Determining whether competition is distorted does not require definition of the relevant markets.   This article examines two apparently different but in […]

The Importance of Precise Definition of Public Service Obligations

ship
The imposition of a public service obligation must be preceded by market analysis that shows that the market underprovides. For compensation of public service obligations to be compatible aid, it must satisfy the first three Altmark criteria. Surprisingly, the first three Altmark criteria must also be satisfied [in addition to the 4th criterion] for public service compensation in order not to constitute […]

Guidance on the Application of Regulation 1370/2007 on Passenger Transport Services

train entering station
Public service obligations may only be imposed where the market does not provide adequate services in terms of price and/or quality. The selection of service providers must respect the principles of openness, transparency and non-discrimination, even when public procurement procedures may not apply. Compensation must be based on contracts which contain a precise definition of the public service and parameters on how […]

The Emerging Doctrine of Inseparability and Compensation for Public Service Obligations [T-347/09, Germany v Commission]

hands in a forest
Introduction In the landmark judgment in Leipzig Halle, the General Court stated that infrastructure which is inseparable from economic activity is itself economic and its public funding can fall in principle within the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU. The Court of Justice has confirmed this principle. On 12 September 2013, the General Court in its judgment in case T-347/09, Germany […]

Restrictions on Sale of Land and Social Housing

hands holding house model
Introduction This posting reviews the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in two joined cases: Eric Libert, et al v Gouvernement Flamand, (C‑197/11) and All Projects & Developments NV and Others v Vlaamse Regering, (C‑203/11).[1] The judgment which was rendered on 8 May 2013 is important because it addresses several issues concerning public service obligations, their relationship with […]

- Public Service Obligations ×

EU Decisions Override National Decisions on Compensation for Public Service Obligations

The principle of res judicata cannot be used to avoid recovery of incompatible State aid.   An update on State aid measures to counter the impact of COVID-19 As of 3 April 2020, the Commission has approved 29 measures submitted by 16 Member States. Article 107(3)(b) is the legal basis for 26 of those measures, while Article 107(2)(b) is the […]

How to Compensate for the Extra Cost of Public Service Obligations: Step-by-Step Guidance on a Complex Calculation

The “net avoided cost methodology” takes into account only incremental costs. Introduction The two most difficult issues in the design of State aid measures to support services of general economic interest [SGEI] are the proper definition of the public service obligation [PSO] and the identification of the “counterfactual” on the basis of which the public service compensation [PSC] is calculated. […]

Public Service Obligations, Duration of Entrustment and Reasonable Profit

The duration of entrustment should not exceed the economic life of the investment and the rate of return should reflect the commercial risk of that investment. Introduction Is a 55-year entrustment through a direct award compatible with EU rules? And is a profit rate that exceeds the risk-free rate of return reasonable? These are some of the questions that the […]

Services of General Economic Interest: Proper Definition and Avoidance of Overcompensation

Member States need to demonstrate that public service obligations imposed on undertakings are necessary and proportional to the need for public service. A change in the funding of public services does not constitute new aid if it does not alter its objectives, the beneficiaries or the amount of aid by more than 20%.   Introduction It is a well-established principle […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Scope of Public Service Obligations

Public service obligations may cover both profitable and unprofitable segments of the market.   Introduction 18 January 2017, the General Court delivered its judgment in case T-92/11 RENV, Jørgen Andersen, v European Commission.[1] Mr Andersen appealed against Commission Decision 2011/3 which concluded that public service contracts between the Danish Ministry of Transport and Danske Statsbaner [DSB], the incumbent train operator, contained […]

A Primer on Compensation for the Extra Costs of Public Service Obligations Taking into Account Efficiency Gains

When Member States impose PSOs they are never allowed to grant even a single euro in excess of the net extra costs of the PSO. That is prohibited for the simple reason that it results in over-compensation.     Introduction The Lexxion seminar on state aid for transport and transport infrastructure that took place in Brussels on 21-22 September (view […]

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 […]

Public Service Obligations: A Few More Mistakes that Can Be Avoided

Even efficient companies will fail the 4th Altmark criterion if their costs are not proven to be comparable to those of a typical and well-equipped undertaking. Public funding of infrastructure is not State aid to users only if access is open to all. Public funding for training to raise social awareness is still State aid if it relieves companies of […]

i) Environmental Harm Does Not Make State Aid Incompatible with the Internal Market ii) the Market Economy Investor Principle Applied to Monopolies

Security of energy supply can be a service of general economic interest. Avoiding harm to the environment is not one of the principles that underpin the internal market and which may not be violated by State aid measures. Determining whether competition is distorted does not require definition of the relevant markets.   This article examines two apparently different but in […]

The Importance of Precise Definition of Public Service Obligations

ship
The imposition of a public service obligation must be preceded by market analysis that shows that the market underprovides. For compensation of public service obligations to be compatible aid, it must satisfy the first three Altmark criteria. Surprisingly, the first three Altmark criteria must also be satisfied [in addition to the 4th criterion] for public service compensation in order not to constitute […]

Guidance on the Application of Regulation 1370/2007 on Passenger Transport Services

train entering station
Public service obligations may only be imposed where the market does not provide adequate services in terms of price and/or quality. The selection of service providers must respect the principles of openness, transparency and non-discrimination, even when public procurement procedures may not apply. Compensation must be based on contracts which contain a precise definition of the public service and parameters on how […]

The Emerging Doctrine of Inseparability and Compensation for Public Service Obligations [T-347/09, Germany v Commission]

hands in a forest
Introduction In the landmark judgment in Leipzig Halle, the General Court stated that infrastructure which is inseparable from economic activity is itself economic and its public funding can fall in principle within the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU. The Court of Justice has confirmed this principle. On 12 September 2013, the General Court in its judgment in case T-347/09, Germany […]

Restrictions on Sale of Land and Social Housing

hands holding house model
Introduction This posting reviews the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in two joined cases: Eric Libert, et al v Gouvernement Flamand, (C‑197/11) and All Projects & Developments NV and Others v Vlaamse Regering, (C‑203/11).[1] The judgment which was rendered on 8 May 2013 is important because it addresses several issues concerning public service obligations, their relationship with […]

- Public Service Obligations ×

EU Decisions Override National Decisions on Compensation for Public Service Obligations

The principle of res judicata cannot be used to avoid recovery of incompatible State aid.   An update on State aid measures to counter the impact of COVID-19 As of 3 April 2020, the Commission has approved 29 measures submitted by 16 Member States. Article 107(3)(b) is the legal basis for 26 of those measures, while Article 107(2)(b) is the […]

How to Compensate for the Extra Cost of Public Service Obligations: Step-by-Step Guidance on a Complex Calculation

The “net avoided cost methodology” takes into account only incremental costs. Introduction The two most difficult issues in the design of State aid measures to support services of general economic interest [SGEI] are the proper definition of the public service obligation [PSO] and the identification of the “counterfactual” on the basis of which the public service compensation [PSC] is calculated. […]

Public Service Obligations, Duration of Entrustment and Reasonable Profit

The duration of entrustment should not exceed the economic life of the investment and the rate of return should reflect the commercial risk of that investment. Introduction Is a 55-year entrustment through a direct award compatible with EU rules? And is a profit rate that exceeds the risk-free rate of return reasonable? These are some of the questions that the […]

Services of General Economic Interest: Proper Definition and Avoidance of Overcompensation

Member States need to demonstrate that public service obligations imposed on undertakings are necessary and proportional to the need for public service. A change in the funding of public services does not constitute new aid if it does not alter its objectives, the beneficiaries or the amount of aid by more than 20%.   Introduction It is a well-established principle […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Scope of Public Service Obligations

Public service obligations may cover both profitable and unprofitable segments of the market.   Introduction 18 January 2017, the General Court delivered its judgment in case T-92/11 RENV, Jørgen Andersen, v European Commission.[1] Mr Andersen appealed against Commission Decision 2011/3 which concluded that public service contracts between the Danish Ministry of Transport and Danske Statsbaner [DSB], the incumbent train operator, contained […]

A Primer on Compensation for the Extra Costs of Public Service Obligations Taking into Account Efficiency Gains

When Member States impose PSOs they are never allowed to grant even a single euro in excess of the net extra costs of the PSO. That is prohibited for the simple reason that it results in over-compensation.     Introduction The Lexxion seminar on state aid for transport and transport infrastructure that took place in Brussels on 21-22 September (view […]

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 […]

Public Service Obligations: A Few More Mistakes that Can Be Avoided

Even efficient companies will fail the 4th Altmark criterion if their costs are not proven to be comparable to those of a typical and well-equipped undertaking. Public funding of infrastructure is not State aid to users only if access is open to all. Public funding for training to raise social awareness is still State aid if it relieves companies of […]

i) Environmental Harm Does Not Make State Aid Incompatible with the Internal Market ii) the Market Economy Investor Principle Applied to Monopolies

Security of energy supply can be a service of general economic interest. Avoiding harm to the environment is not one of the principles that underpin the internal market and which may not be violated by State aid measures. Determining whether competition is distorted does not require definition of the relevant markets.   This article examines two apparently different but in […]

The Importance of Precise Definition of Public Service Obligations

ship
The imposition of a public service obligation must be preceded by market analysis that shows that the market underprovides. For compensation of public service obligations to be compatible aid, it must satisfy the first three Altmark criteria. Surprisingly, the first three Altmark criteria must also be satisfied [in addition to the 4th criterion] for public service compensation in order not to constitute […]

Guidance on the Application of Regulation 1370/2007 on Passenger Transport Services

train entering station
Public service obligations may only be imposed where the market does not provide adequate services in terms of price and/or quality. The selection of service providers must respect the principles of openness, transparency and non-discrimination, even when public procurement procedures may not apply. Compensation must be based on contracts which contain a precise definition of the public service and parameters on how […]

The Emerging Doctrine of Inseparability and Compensation for Public Service Obligations [T-347/09, Germany v Commission]

hands in a forest
Introduction In the landmark judgment in Leipzig Halle, the General Court stated that infrastructure which is inseparable from economic activity is itself economic and its public funding can fall in principle within the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU. The Court of Justice has confirmed this principle. On 12 September 2013, the General Court in its judgment in case T-347/09, Germany […]

Restrictions on Sale of Land and Social Housing

hands holding house model
Introduction This posting reviews the judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in two joined cases: Eric Libert, et al v Gouvernement Flamand, (C‑197/11) and All Projects & Developments NV and Others v Vlaamse Regering, (C‑203/11).[1] The judgment which was rendered on 8 May 2013 is important because it addresses several issues concerning public service obligations, their relationship with […]

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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’.

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Step 1: Submit your draft post as a Word file to stateaidhub[a]lexxion.eu.

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