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!

- advantage ×

Taxation of Multinational Companies: The Apple Case – A Political Setback for the Commission, but a Victory on Principle

Mac
Defects, incompleteness and inconsistencies in tax rulings are not sufficient to prove the existence of an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. Update on Temporary Framework: Number of approved and published covid-19 measures, as of 17 July 2020: 213* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 21; Article 107(3)(b): 179; Article 107(3)(c): 18 Five Member States have implemented 13 or more […]

2019 Competition Report

report
The Annual Competition Report is a useful document, but it should provide more information on the results of the ex post evaluations and ex post monitoring. Update on Temporary Framework: Number of approved and published COVID-19 measures, as of 10 July 2020: 202* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 20; Article 107(3)(b): 171; Article 107(3)(c): 17 Six Member States have implemented 11 […]

Advantage Must be Proven, Not Assumed

Road sign "Wrong Way"
The European Commission has to consider whether the private investor principle is applicable in cases of state investments. It is for Member States to prove that their investments conform with the private investor principle. Temporary Framework As of 9 May 2020, the European Commission had approved 113 State aid measures to combat covid-19. Their legal basis was: Article 107(2)(b): 10; […]

How to Make Good the Damage Caused by a Natural Disaster

Compensation for costs incurred as a result of a natural disaster is State aid. The compensation must be for damage directly caused by the natural disaster. Introduction State aid to make good the damage caused by an “exceptional occurrence” such as the corona virus covid-19 is compatible with the internal market. The legal basis for exemption is Article 107(2)(b). Of […]

Public Funding of Infrastructure without State Aid

State Aide_Infrastructure
The existence of State aid must be checked at the level of both the direct and indirect beneficiaries who are the owners and users of infrastructure, respectively. If payments to private land owners are to be free of State aid, they must be calculated on the basis of an objective formula that takes into account the size and value of […]

Environmental Remediation and State Liability

Liability assumed by the state for the actions of an undertaking constitutes a selective advantage that may result in potential transfer of state resources in the future. Introduction On 16 January 2020 the General Court delivered its judgment in case T‑257/18, Iberpotash v European Commission.[1] Iberpotash, a Spanish company, appealed against Commission decision 2018/118. Iberpotash owns and operates potash mines […]

Spanish Football Clubs Score against the Commission: a) Linked Advantages and Disadvantages Must be Assessed Together b) In Determining the Existence of an Advantage, the Commission Must Explain both what it Takes into Account and what it Ignores

State measures which are linked and produce both positive and negative effects, must be considered together to determine whether they confer a net advantage to undertakings. Counter-guarantees must be taken into account to determine the existence of advantage even if they are provisional.   Introduction Member States have in a number of cases tried to defend tax reductions or tax […]

Advantage through Contracts

A price below the regulated normal price confers an advantage. Competition is distorted even when the aid recipient does not expand its operations.   Introduction An undertaking can obtain an advantage without receiving an outright grant. The advantage may be hidden in a contract for the supply of an essential input at reduced prices. This is the issue tackled by […]

Part II: Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

airplane
The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Pensions, Public Statements and Private Investors

The normal costs of an undertaking include all the costs of compliance with the obligations imposed by law. A private investor takes into account all the relevant information at the point in time it decides to invest.     Introduction This article reviews two court judgments both of which concern Orange, the French incumbent telecoms operator. The first judgment finds […]

Turnover Taxes Can be Incompatible with the Internal Market

Progressive taxes levied on turnover can provide State aid that is incompatible with the internal market. Flat turnover taxes are proportional and therefore likely to be free of State aid.   Introduction Hungary wanted to levy two types of turnover taxes whose purpose was to protect health. The first tax was levied on tobacco products.[1] The Commission found, in decision 2016/1846, […]

Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid: Part II – Advantage and Selectivity

This is the second article in a series of three that reviews the Commission’s Notice on the Notion of State Aid.* Last week’s article focused on the concepts of economic activity and state resources.** Next week’s article will conclude with a presentation of the conditions under which trade is affected and competition distorted and an analysis of the application of […]

Compensatory Payments Can still Confer an Advantage

Membership of a compulsory insurance scheme can still confer an advantage to participating undertakings. Private contributions can still become state resources if they are paid into a fund that is managed by the state. Member States always have the option to ask for a measure to be assessed directly on the basis of the Treaty but they have to justify […]

The Market Economy Investor Principle Applies also to Avoidance of Losses

A public authority can act as a private investor in paying to avoid costly contractual clauses. A public authority can act as a private investor in paying to bring forward future revenue. Introduction   When a market operator invests to make profit, its underlying logic is the same as when it pays to avoid losses. In both cases it is […]

A National Measure that Does Not Apply at Regional Level Is Not Necessarily Selective

Where there is a constitutional division of tax competences, different authorities may tax similar activities at different rates.   Introduction This article examines Commission decision SA.34469 on differential tax rates for online and land-based gambling in Spain.[1] In the Spanish political system, regions that have the status of Autonomous Communities have powers of taxation. The issue at hand was which authority […]

Tax Hypothecation and Economic Efficiency under Altmark: T-275/11, French Television 1 v Commission

television
Background France Télévisions is a limited company wholly owned by the French State. As France abolished advertising on public television, it also decided to provide financial compensation to France Télévisions. For this reason it introduced new taxes to generate revenue for the compensation: a tax on advertising and a tax on electronic communications. In January 2009, France notified to the […]

- advantage ×

Taxation of Multinational Companies: The Apple Case – A Political Setback for the Commission, but a Victory on Principle

Mac
Defects, incompleteness and inconsistencies in tax rulings are not sufficient to prove the existence of an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. Update on Temporary Framework: Number of approved and published covid-19 measures, as of 17 July 2020: 213* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 21; Article 107(3)(b): 179; Article 107(3)(c): 18 Five Member States have implemented 13 or more […]

2019 Competition Report

report
The Annual Competition Report is a useful document, but it should provide more information on the results of the ex post evaluations and ex post monitoring. Update on Temporary Framework: Number of approved and published COVID-19 measures, as of 10 July 2020: 202* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 20; Article 107(3)(b): 171; Article 107(3)(c): 17 Six Member States have implemented 11 […]

Advantage Must be Proven, Not Assumed

Road sign "Wrong Way"
The European Commission has to consider whether the private investor principle is applicable in cases of state investments. It is for Member States to prove that their investments conform with the private investor principle. Temporary Framework As of 9 May 2020, the European Commission had approved 113 State aid measures to combat covid-19. Their legal basis was: Article 107(2)(b): 10; […]

How to Make Good the Damage Caused by a Natural Disaster

Compensation for costs incurred as a result of a natural disaster is State aid. The compensation must be for damage directly caused by the natural disaster. Introduction State aid to make good the damage caused by an “exceptional occurrence” such as the corona virus covid-19 is compatible with the internal market. The legal basis for exemption is Article 107(2)(b). Of […]

Public Funding of Infrastructure without State Aid

State Aide_Infrastructure
The existence of State aid must be checked at the level of both the direct and indirect beneficiaries who are the owners and users of infrastructure, respectively. If payments to private land owners are to be free of State aid, they must be calculated on the basis of an objective formula that takes into account the size and value of […]

Environmental Remediation and State Liability

Liability assumed by the state for the actions of an undertaking constitutes a selective advantage that may result in potential transfer of state resources in the future. Introduction On 16 January 2020 the General Court delivered its judgment in case T‑257/18, Iberpotash v European Commission.[1] Iberpotash, a Spanish company, appealed against Commission decision 2018/118. Iberpotash owns and operates potash mines […]

Spanish Football Clubs Score against the Commission: a) Linked Advantages and Disadvantages Must be Assessed Together b) In Determining the Existence of an Advantage, the Commission Must Explain both what it Takes into Account and what it Ignores

State measures which are linked and produce both positive and negative effects, must be considered together to determine whether they confer a net advantage to undertakings. Counter-guarantees must be taken into account to determine the existence of advantage even if they are provisional.   Introduction Member States have in a number of cases tried to defend tax reductions or tax […]

Advantage through Contracts

A price below the regulated normal price confers an advantage. Competition is distorted even when the aid recipient does not expand its operations.   Introduction An undertaking can obtain an advantage without receiving an outright grant. The advantage may be hidden in a contract for the supply of an essential input at reduced prices. This is the issue tackled by […]

Part II: Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

airplane
The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Pensions, Public Statements and Private Investors

The normal costs of an undertaking include all the costs of compliance with the obligations imposed by law. A private investor takes into account all the relevant information at the point in time it decides to invest.     Introduction This article reviews two court judgments both of which concern Orange, the French incumbent telecoms operator. The first judgment finds […]

Turnover Taxes Can be Incompatible with the Internal Market

Progressive taxes levied on turnover can provide State aid that is incompatible with the internal market. Flat turnover taxes are proportional and therefore likely to be free of State aid.   Introduction Hungary wanted to levy two types of turnover taxes whose purpose was to protect health. The first tax was levied on tobacco products.[1] The Commission found, in decision 2016/1846, […]

Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid: Part II – Advantage and Selectivity

This is the second article in a series of three that reviews the Commission’s Notice on the Notion of State Aid.* Last week’s article focused on the concepts of economic activity and state resources.** Next week’s article will conclude with a presentation of the conditions under which trade is affected and competition distorted and an analysis of the application of […]

Compensatory Payments Can still Confer an Advantage

Membership of a compulsory insurance scheme can still confer an advantage to participating undertakings. Private contributions can still become state resources if they are paid into a fund that is managed by the state. Member States always have the option to ask for a measure to be assessed directly on the basis of the Treaty but they have to justify […]

The Market Economy Investor Principle Applies also to Avoidance of Losses

A public authority can act as a private investor in paying to avoid costly contractual clauses. A public authority can act as a private investor in paying to bring forward future revenue. Introduction   When a market operator invests to make profit, its underlying logic is the same as when it pays to avoid losses. In both cases it is […]

A National Measure that Does Not Apply at Regional Level Is Not Necessarily Selective

Where there is a constitutional division of tax competences, different authorities may tax similar activities at different rates.   Introduction This article examines Commission decision SA.34469 on differential tax rates for online and land-based gambling in Spain.[1] In the Spanish political system, regions that have the status of Autonomous Communities have powers of taxation. The issue at hand was which authority […]

Tax Hypothecation and Economic Efficiency under Altmark: T-275/11, French Television 1 v Commission

television
Background France Télévisions is a limited company wholly owned by the French State. As France abolished advertising on public television, it also decided to provide financial compensation to France Télévisions. For this reason it introduced new taxes to generate revenue for the compensation: a tax on advertising and a tax on electronic communications. In January 2009, France notified to the […]

- advantage ×

Taxation of Multinational Companies: The Apple Case – A Political Setback for the Commission, but a Victory on Principle

Mac
Defects, incompleteness and inconsistencies in tax rulings are not sufficient to prove the existence of an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. Update on Temporary Framework: Number of approved and published covid-19 measures, as of 17 July 2020: 213* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 21; Article 107(3)(b): 179; Article 107(3)(c): 18 Five Member States have implemented 13 or more […]

2019 Competition Report

report
The Annual Competition Report is a useful document, but it should provide more information on the results of the ex post evaluations and ex post monitoring. Update on Temporary Framework: Number of approved and published COVID-19 measures, as of 10 July 2020: 202* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 20; Article 107(3)(b): 171; Article 107(3)(c): 17 Six Member States have implemented 11 […]

Advantage Must be Proven, Not Assumed

Road sign "Wrong Way"
The European Commission has to consider whether the private investor principle is applicable in cases of state investments. It is for Member States to prove that their investments conform with the private investor principle. Temporary Framework As of 9 May 2020, the European Commission had approved 113 State aid measures to combat covid-19. Their legal basis was: Article 107(2)(b): 10; […]

How to Make Good the Damage Caused by a Natural Disaster

Compensation for costs incurred as a result of a natural disaster is State aid. The compensation must be for damage directly caused by the natural disaster. Introduction State aid to make good the damage caused by an “exceptional occurrence” such as the corona virus covid-19 is compatible with the internal market. The legal basis for exemption is Article 107(2)(b). Of […]

Public Funding of Infrastructure without State Aid

State Aide_Infrastructure
The existence of State aid must be checked at the level of both the direct and indirect beneficiaries who are the owners and users of infrastructure, respectively. If payments to private land owners are to be free of State aid, they must be calculated on the basis of an objective formula that takes into account the size and value of […]

Environmental Remediation and State Liability

Liability assumed by the state for the actions of an undertaking constitutes a selective advantage that may result in potential transfer of state resources in the future. Introduction On 16 January 2020 the General Court delivered its judgment in case T‑257/18, Iberpotash v European Commission.[1] Iberpotash, a Spanish company, appealed against Commission decision 2018/118. Iberpotash owns and operates potash mines […]

Spanish Football Clubs Score against the Commission: a) Linked Advantages and Disadvantages Must be Assessed Together b) In Determining the Existence of an Advantage, the Commission Must Explain both what it Takes into Account and what it Ignores

State measures which are linked and produce both positive and negative effects, must be considered together to determine whether they confer a net advantage to undertakings. Counter-guarantees must be taken into account to determine the existence of advantage even if they are provisional.   Introduction Member States have in a number of cases tried to defend tax reductions or tax […]

Advantage through Contracts

A price below the regulated normal price confers an advantage. Competition is distorted even when the aid recipient does not expand its operations.   Introduction An undertaking can obtain an advantage without receiving an outright grant. The advantage may be hidden in a contract for the supply of an essential input at reduced prices. This is the issue tackled by […]

Part II: Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

airplane
The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Pensions, Public Statements and Private Investors

The normal costs of an undertaking include all the costs of compliance with the obligations imposed by law. A private investor takes into account all the relevant information at the point in time it decides to invest.     Introduction This article reviews two court judgments both of which concern Orange, the French incumbent telecoms operator. The first judgment finds […]

Turnover Taxes Can be Incompatible with the Internal Market

Progressive taxes levied on turnover can provide State aid that is incompatible with the internal market. Flat turnover taxes are proportional and therefore likely to be free of State aid.   Introduction Hungary wanted to levy two types of turnover taxes whose purpose was to protect health. The first tax was levied on tobacco products.[1] The Commission found, in decision 2016/1846, […]

Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid: Part II – Advantage and Selectivity

This is the second article in a series of three that reviews the Commission’s Notice on the Notion of State Aid.* Last week’s article focused on the concepts of economic activity and state resources.** Next week’s article will conclude with a presentation of the conditions under which trade is affected and competition distorted and an analysis of the application of […]

Compensatory Payments Can still Confer an Advantage

Membership of a compulsory insurance scheme can still confer an advantage to participating undertakings. Private contributions can still become state resources if they are paid into a fund that is managed by the state. Member States always have the option to ask for a measure to be assessed directly on the basis of the Treaty but they have to justify […]

The Market Economy Investor Principle Applies also to Avoidance of Losses

A public authority can act as a private investor in paying to avoid costly contractual clauses. A public authority can act as a private investor in paying to bring forward future revenue. Introduction   When a market operator invests to make profit, its underlying logic is the same as when it pays to avoid losses. In both cases it is […]

A National Measure that Does Not Apply at Regional Level Is Not Necessarily Selective

Where there is a constitutional division of tax competences, different authorities may tax similar activities at different rates.   Introduction This article examines Commission decision SA.34469 on differential tax rates for online and land-based gambling in Spain.[1] In the Spanish political system, regions that have the status of Autonomous Communities have powers of taxation. The issue at hand was which authority […]

Tax Hypothecation and Economic Efficiency under Altmark: T-275/11, French Television 1 v Commission

television
Background France Télévisions is a limited company wholly owned by the French State. As France abolished advertising on public television, it also decided to provide financial compensation to France Télévisions. For this reason it introduced new taxes to generate revenue for the compensation: a tax on advertising and a tax on electronic communications. In January 2009, France notified to the […]

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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