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

State Aid Uncovered ×

Nature Conservation as a Service of General Economic Interest

Public funding of non-economic activities does not create State aid problems when any related economic activities are clearly separated. The 2012 SGEI package can apply retroactively.   Introduction Member States of the European Union are free to designate the services they consider to be in the general economic interest. However, the wide discretion they enjoy in this respect falls under […]

The Perennial Altmark Questions

A SGEI provider does not have to be efficient by industry standards in order to receive compensation for its next extra costs. Although the conditions for compatibility of public service compensation under Article 106(2) TFEU appear to be similar to the Altmark criteria, they have very different objectives.   Introduction Even since the Altmark judgment of July 2003, public authorities […]

Services of General Economic Interest: How to Compensate and Induce more Efficiency

Even traditional monopolists, like postal operators, have to comply with the rules on compensation for the extra costs of public service obligations. SGEI providers can be compensated in a way that induces them to become more efficient.   Introduction This article examines case Commission decision SA.38788 concerning compensation for the UK Post Office Ltd [POL] in the period 2015-18.[1] It is […]

Failure to Satisfy Ex Post the Altmark Criteria, but Compliance with the 2014 Aviation Guidelines

Public service obligations must be entrusted by an official act and defined with sufficient precision. Imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to identify the costs which are caused by such obligations. Consequently, imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to grant compensation because subsidisation of non-eligible costs cannot be excluded. Compensation may not be granted […]

In Brief: T‑57/11 Castelnou Energía v Commission (judgment of 03.12.2014)

On Wednesday 3rd December the GC found Spanish aid granted to coal power plants to secure supply to be compatible State aid (judgment not yet available in English). After a busy day at the EStALI Autumn Workshop yesterday (we’ll give you all the hubbub from that as well as the conference later today), the following is a preliminary post on […]

State Aid for Nuclear Power: No Thanks! Maybe? Yes Please!

The Commission’s decision on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station of 8th October 2014 and what this might mean for the approach to nuclear energy… In 2014, the European Commission adopted new Guidelines on State aid for energy and the environment. These were followed by the adoption of a new General Block Exemption Regulation that also included measures relating to energy […]

Not Surprisingly, Another Member State Fails to Prove Compliance with the Altmark Criteria

Maintaining capacity that is necessary for the provision of normal services cannot be classified as a service of general economic interest. State aid may not be granted towards the costs of cleaning up pollution caused by the aid recipient itself. State aid to a legal monopoly may still affect trade if there is competition for the monopoly rights or if […]

Levying Taxes to Fund Public Broadcasters

Taxes may not be examined by the Commission in the context of Article 107 even if they finance State aid measures. By contrast, the Commission may examine a tax in the context of its assessment of the compatibility of aid with the internal market when the tax is inseparable from an aid measure. A tax is inseparable from an aid […]

Sale of Public Assets, SGEI and Electricity Levies

Revenue from levies on electricity users is most likely to constitute State resources. Public service obligations can be transferred from one electricity-generating company to another. Compensation for public service obligations may distinguish between controllable and uncontrollable costs. Performance benchmarking can be used as a means for inducing efficiency. Electricity levies may not directly or indirectly discriminate against imported electricity. Introduction   This is a […]

Price Discounts and Compensation for Public Service Obligations: A Case of Questionable Need for Aid

SGEI can be defined and public service obligations can be imposed only when the market underprovides. The parameters of compensation must be determined in advance. Public service compensation may not exceed the next extra costs of the SGEI or PSO. Member States are free to devise their own method of compensation, but irrespective of the method used, compensation must comply with the basic […]

State Aid Uncovered ×

Nature Conservation as a Service of General Economic Interest

Public funding of non-economic activities does not create State aid problems when any related economic activities are clearly separated. The 2012 SGEI package can apply retroactively.   Introduction Member States of the European Union are free to designate the services they consider to be in the general economic interest. However, the wide discretion they enjoy in this respect falls under […]

The Perennial Altmark Questions

A SGEI provider does not have to be efficient by industry standards in order to receive compensation for its next extra costs. Although the conditions for compatibility of public service compensation under Article 106(2) TFEU appear to be similar to the Altmark criteria, they have very different objectives.   Introduction Even since the Altmark judgment of July 2003, public authorities […]

Services of General Economic Interest: How to Compensate and Induce more Efficiency

Even traditional monopolists, like postal operators, have to comply with the rules on compensation for the extra costs of public service obligations. SGEI providers can be compensated in a way that induces them to become more efficient.   Introduction This article examines case Commission decision SA.38788 concerning compensation for the UK Post Office Ltd [POL] in the period 2015-18.[1] It is […]

Failure to Satisfy Ex Post the Altmark Criteria, but Compliance with the 2014 Aviation Guidelines

Public service obligations must be entrusted by an official act and defined with sufficient precision. Imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to identify the costs which are caused by such obligations. Consequently, imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to grant compensation because subsidisation of non-eligible costs cannot be excluded. Compensation may not be granted […]

In Brief: T‑57/11 Castelnou Energía v Commission (judgment of 03.12.2014)

On Wednesday 3rd December the GC found Spanish aid granted to coal power plants to secure supply to be compatible State aid (judgment not yet available in English). After a busy day at the EStALI Autumn Workshop yesterday (we’ll give you all the hubbub from that as well as the conference later today), the following is a preliminary post on […]

State Aid for Nuclear Power: No Thanks! Maybe? Yes Please!

The Commission’s decision on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station of 8th October 2014 and what this might mean for the approach to nuclear energy… In 2014, the European Commission adopted new Guidelines on State aid for energy and the environment. These were followed by the adoption of a new General Block Exemption Regulation that also included measures relating to energy […]

Not Surprisingly, Another Member State Fails to Prove Compliance with the Altmark Criteria

Maintaining capacity that is necessary for the provision of normal services cannot be classified as a service of general economic interest. State aid may not be granted towards the costs of cleaning up pollution caused by the aid recipient itself. State aid to a legal monopoly may still affect trade if there is competition for the monopoly rights or if […]

Levying Taxes to Fund Public Broadcasters

Taxes may not be examined by the Commission in the context of Article 107 even if they finance State aid measures. By contrast, the Commission may examine a tax in the context of its assessment of the compatibility of aid with the internal market when the tax is inseparable from an aid measure. A tax is inseparable from an aid […]

Sale of Public Assets, SGEI and Electricity Levies

Revenue from levies on electricity users is most likely to constitute State resources. Public service obligations can be transferred from one electricity-generating company to another. Compensation for public service obligations may distinguish between controllable and uncontrollable costs. Performance benchmarking can be used as a means for inducing efficiency. Electricity levies may not directly or indirectly discriminate against imported electricity. Introduction   This is a […]

Price Discounts and Compensation for Public Service Obligations: A Case of Questionable Need for Aid

SGEI can be defined and public service obligations can be imposed only when the market underprovides. The parameters of compensation must be determined in advance. Public service compensation may not exceed the next extra costs of the SGEI or PSO. Member States are free to devise their own method of compensation, but irrespective of the method used, compensation must comply with the basic […]

State Aid Uncovered ×

Nature Conservation as a Service of General Economic Interest

Public funding of non-economic activities does not create State aid problems when any related economic activities are clearly separated. The 2012 SGEI package can apply retroactively.   Introduction Member States of the European Union are free to designate the services they consider to be in the general economic interest. However, the wide discretion they enjoy in this respect falls under […]

The Perennial Altmark Questions

A SGEI provider does not have to be efficient by industry standards in order to receive compensation for its next extra costs. Although the conditions for compatibility of public service compensation under Article 106(2) TFEU appear to be similar to the Altmark criteria, they have very different objectives.   Introduction Even since the Altmark judgment of July 2003, public authorities […]

Services of General Economic Interest: How to Compensate and Induce more Efficiency

Even traditional monopolists, like postal operators, have to comply with the rules on compensation for the extra costs of public service obligations. SGEI providers can be compensated in a way that induces them to become more efficient.   Introduction This article examines case Commission decision SA.38788 concerning compensation for the UK Post Office Ltd [POL] in the period 2015-18.[1] It is […]

Failure to Satisfy Ex Post the Altmark Criteria, but Compliance with the 2014 Aviation Guidelines

Public service obligations must be entrusted by an official act and defined with sufficient precision. Imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to identify the costs which are caused by such obligations. Consequently, imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to grant compensation because subsidisation of non-eligible costs cannot be excluded. Compensation may not be granted […]

In Brief: T‑57/11 Castelnou Energía v Commission (judgment of 03.12.2014)

On Wednesday 3rd December the GC found Spanish aid granted to coal power plants to secure supply to be compatible State aid (judgment not yet available in English). After a busy day at the EStALI Autumn Workshop yesterday (we’ll give you all the hubbub from that as well as the conference later today), the following is a preliminary post on […]

State Aid for Nuclear Power: No Thanks! Maybe? Yes Please!

The Commission’s decision on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station of 8th October 2014 and what this might mean for the approach to nuclear energy… In 2014, the European Commission adopted new Guidelines on State aid for energy and the environment. These were followed by the adoption of a new General Block Exemption Regulation that also included measures relating to energy […]

Not Surprisingly, Another Member State Fails to Prove Compliance with the Altmark Criteria

Maintaining capacity that is necessary for the provision of normal services cannot be classified as a service of general economic interest. State aid may not be granted towards the costs of cleaning up pollution caused by the aid recipient itself. State aid to a legal monopoly may still affect trade if there is competition for the monopoly rights or if […]

Levying Taxes to Fund Public Broadcasters

Taxes may not be examined by the Commission in the context of Article 107 even if they finance State aid measures. By contrast, the Commission may examine a tax in the context of its assessment of the compatibility of aid with the internal market when the tax is inseparable from an aid measure. A tax is inseparable from an aid […]

Sale of Public Assets, SGEI and Electricity Levies

Revenue from levies on electricity users is most likely to constitute State resources. Public service obligations can be transferred from one electricity-generating company to another. Compensation for public service obligations may distinguish between controllable and uncontrollable costs. Performance benchmarking can be used as a means for inducing efficiency. Electricity levies may not directly or indirectly discriminate against imported electricity. Introduction   This is a […]

Price Discounts and Compensation for Public Service Obligations: A Case of Questionable Need for Aid

SGEI can be defined and public service obligations can be imposed only when the market underprovides. The parameters of compensation must be determined in advance. Public service compensation may not exceed the next extra costs of the SGEI or PSO. Member States are free to devise their own method of compensation, but irrespective of the method used, compensation must comply with the basic […]

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 [email protected].

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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