Europäisches Beihilfenrecht 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!

- Article 107(1) ×

The Interpretation of Conflicting Norms regarding the Validity of State Aid Infolding Contracts Must Be Consistent with the Safeguard of Individual Rights Created by EU State Aid Law (C 505/14, Klausner)

forest
The following blog post is another contributory piece by Emanuela Matei, Associate Researcher at the Centre of European Legal Studies, Bucharest. Matei holds a Juris Master in European Business Law (Lund University, June 2012), a Magister legum (Lund University, June 2010) and a BSc in Economics & Business Administration (Lund University, June 2009). We are very glad to welcome her […]

How Reasonable The Private Investor May Be Assumed To Be? Corsica Ferries France

steel construction
The following article summary is a contributory piece by Gian Marco Galletti. The full piece was published in the Common Market Law Review. Galletti is working as a researcher at the Dickson Poon School of Law since 2013. He is currently working on a PhD in European law under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Biondi. He holds an LLB with […]

In Brief: Case C-518/13 Eventech and Case T-1/12 France v Commission

Lady Justice
A quick look at the two new rulings this week. This post gives a preliminary overview of the two new judgments this week (more in depth posts with analysis will be online soon!): On Wednesday 14th January the CJEU passed its ruling in the hotly awaited Eventech case (Case C-518/13), while a day later the General Court gave its word on […]

In Brief: Case T-58/13, Club Hotel Loutraki AE and Others v Commission (judgment of 08.01.2015)

hotel pool
On Thursday the 8th January the GC dismissed all four pleas in the action for annulment of the Commission Decision finding that the exclusive rights granted to operate 35 000 Video Lottery Terminals and 13 games of chance were not State aid.   The case is can be accessed here (English and French versions currently available) and the press release here.Background to the […]

A Surprising Interpretation of the Concept of Selectivity

Tax measures are selective when they constitute an exception or deviation from the normal or common system of taxation. In addition, the exception must be open only to a pre-defined category of undertakings. IntroductionOften, the decisive element in whether a tax measure constitutes State aid is the existence of selectivity. On 7 November 2014, the General Court ruled on two […]

Reduction of Property Taxes and Electricity Tariffs

calculator
Relief from property tax is State aid even when the user of the property is involved in defence contracts. Providing cheaper electricity to a few manufacturers cannot be considered to be an appropriate measure for regional development. Introduction This article summarises several judgments which were delivered in October 2014. They concern a tax exemption in Spain and reduction of electricity […]

A Measure is Selective if its Application is Narrower than the Scope of the Objective it Seeks to Achieve

Atomium Monument
A measure is attributed to a decision of a Member State if it is allowed but not mandated by an EU directive. A measure is selective when in practice it is open to fewer undertakings than the ones to which it can potentially apply by its own defined objectives. Introduction   This article examines Commission Decision 2014/686 on a guarantee […]

Compensatory Payments Can be State Aid

Tractor on a field
Article 107(1) also applies to payments that offset the damage caused by natural disasters. It is irrelevant that the compensation is partial or that competitors did not suffer similar damage. A measure can be State aid even if it is partially or wholly funded by private resources. It is sufficient that the resources come under state control. A measure is […]

Sale of Public Assets, SGEI and Electricity Levies

Electrical grid
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 […]

Land Development without State Aid

construction site
Activities which are part of the performance of public duties are non-economic in nature [e.g. spatial development]. Public funding of these activities does not constitute State aid. The transfer of resources from one level of government to another is transfer between public authorities and does not constitute State aid. Competitive selected developers obtain no advantage. Purchasers of subsidised assets who pay market prices […]

The Importance of a Correct Framing of the Private Creditor and Private Investor Tests

people in backlight
A public authority acting as private creditor must exhaust all legally available means of recovering money owed to it. A private creditor may agree to an amicable arrangement – depending on the complexity and duration of legal proceedings, the value of the collateral it holds and the chances of long-term viability of the debtor – if it results in repayment of […]

Competitive Elements in the Selection of Operators of Sports Infrastructure May not Be Enough to Eliminate State Aid

sport arena seats
The existence of an advantage cannot be excluded when the operator of an infrastructural facility is chosen through a competitive procedure which combines price with other selection criteria. The users of a subsidised infrastructural facility who pay a market fee may still derive an advantage when the facility is designed and/or reserved for certain usage. Introduction   Ever since the Leipzig-Halle […]

Non-notified State Aid and the Role of National Courts C 284/12, Deutsche Lufthansa v Flughafen Frankfurt-Hahn

airplane on the runway
Introduction What prevents a Member State from granting State aid without first notifying it to the European Commission? Cynics would answer “nothing, in fact”. Indeed, nothing can stop a country that is determined to provide a subsidy. But after the judgment in case Lufthansa v Frankfurt Hahn Airport, the answer must be “unnecessary hassle”. Even if there is a slight […]

How Not to Determine the Effect on Trade [Infrastructure for Tourism, Czech Republic (SA.35909)]

Prague panorama
Introduction Normally the articles in this blog identify landmark court rulings and seminal decisions of the Commission which set important precedents and provide useful guidance to State aid professionals and practitioners. This article deviates from this custom. It examines a recent case where the Commission concluded that public subsidies did not constitute State aid because intra-EU trade was not affected. […]

The Offsetting of a Structural Disadvantage Is still State Aid

scale and a book
Introduction Normally it is conceptually and technically fairly easy to determine whether an undertaking benefits from a public measure. However, this task becomes considerably more difficult in two situations: i) when a public authority claims that it acts like a private investor and ii) when a public measure is intended to compensate for a disadvantage suffered by the beneficiary undertaking […]

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 […]

Selectivity and Administrative Discretion

computer keyboard
On 18 July 2013, in case C-6/12, the Court of Justice of the European Union rendered a judgment on an interesting aspect of the concept of selectivity.[1] The judgment concerned a request for preliminary ruling in a dispute between “P Oy”, a Finnish company, and Finnish tax authorities. The tax authorities refused to allow P Oy to deduct losses incurred in […]

The Confusion between Necessity and Proportionality of State Aid [Case SA.35738: Public Funding of Port Infrastructure]

port
Introduction Several postings in this blog have examined cases concerning funding of port, airport or sport infrastructure. These cases have all had interesting peculiarities. Some involved no state aid because public authorities acted as private investors, while in other cases the funding arrangements were designed in such a way so that the state aid to operators would not spill over […]

The Flexible Boundary between Economic and Non-economic Activities

gavel, animal figures, euros
This is a rather long posting divided into two parts both of which deal with the concept of economic activity. In part I, I analyse two cases outside the field of state aid that dealt with the concepts of undertaking and economic activity. Both of them originated in legal proceedings initiated before Austrian courts. In part II (that will come […]

How to Use Economic Tools to Ensure the Proportionality of Aid (Commission Decision SA.34938 on a gas storage facility in Poland)

industry
Introduction Normally, economic analysis is used by the Commission to find out whether a measure confers an abnormal advantage to an undertaking. This would be the case, for example, when a public authority makes an investment that generates a return that falls below what the market would demand. The recipient undertaking derives an abnormal advantage [i.e. an advantage that would […]

Public Support without State Aid

tablet with chart tabelle
Public measures that do not constitute state aid are as interesting as the measures that do provide aid. This posting examines two measures that have been found not to fall within the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU because they do not satisfy one or more of the four criteria laid down in that Article. Non-economic activity: Commission Decision SA.35529 on […]

PuState Resources and Payments between Undertakings

euro coins
Introduction A couple of years ago, the big issue in State aid law was the concept of selectivity. The judgments in the British Aggregates and Dutch NOx cases expanded, elaborated, and, some argued, convoluted the criteria for determining whether a measure was selective or not. This year, the big issue for sure is the concept of State resources. First came […]

Exceptional Circumstances, Natural Disasters, Commercial Risk and Rights of Complainants

tornado
This posting examines several recent measures which do not have a single common theme. However, each measure has unusual elements which should be of interest to State aid professionals. Exceptional circumstances: Commission Decision 2013/197 on aid to Cantiere Navale De Poli (IT)[1] The measure in question concerned State aid that Italy intended to provide to shipyard Cantiere Navale De Poli […]

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 […]

Fiscal Leveraging: Donations and State Aid for Culture and Sports

runners on the track
Introduction In this blog I examine primarily a Dutch measure that supports cultural institutions by providing tax incentives to individuals and corporations to make donations to those institutions. This is an unusual construction because the direct beneficiaries are different from the indirect beneficiaries which, however, are the main targets of the measure. This construction has been used rather extensively in […]

Objectively Justified Pricing: The Market Economy Operator Principle

office table
Introduction: Objective justification of price differentiation In a landmark judgment 25 years ago [February 1988], the Court of Justice established that business behaviour that appears to deviate from normal market practices can still conform with the market economy operator principle [MEOP] which is a variation of the better known market economy investor principle [MEIP]. Both principles are based on the […]

Airport Operators and Budget Airlines [Commission Decision SA.23324: Finavia, Airpro and Ryanair at Tampere-Pirkkala Airport

people on the airport
During the past 18 months or so, the European Commission has launched more than 20 investigations in the funding of regional airports and the arrangements that these airports have concluded with budget airlines such as Ryanair. This posting analyses a very recent Commission decision which found that no State aid was granted to either the airport operator or Ryanair. This […]

Where is the Money? The Link between Advantage and Transfer of State Resources

100 euro detail
On 19 March 2013, the Court of Justice delivered an important judgment in case C-399/10 P, Bouygues v European Commission concerning aid that was granted by France to France Telecom. The case was an appeal to an earlier ruling of the General Court in case T 425/04 France and Others v Commission which annulled Article 1 of Commission Decision 2006/621 […]

An “Alternative” Method of Valuation for State-Aid-Free Sale of Public Land

construction site
The obligation of the state to act as a private vendor   When a public authority sells an asset to an undertaking, it must sell it at market price. The case law is clear on this point, especially with respect to the sale of public land or a building. Such a sale may constitute state aid “where it is not […]

The Market Economy Vendor Principle: Sale of Public Land by the Dutch Municipality of Leidschendam-Voorburg [Commission Decision SA.24123]

Cadastre
The previous posting examined a case where the European Commission applied the Market Economy Investor Principle [MEIP]. This is the principle that is used to determine whether there is state aid in commercial transactions between public authorities and undertakings. According to Article 345 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union [TFEU], the European Union is neutral with […]

The Curious Case of Applying the Market Economy Investor Principle to a Monopoly

monopoly game
On 3 October 2012, the European Commission concluded, in case SA.33988, that OPAP, the Greek operator of games of chance received no state aid because the Market Economy Investor Principle applied.[1] At first glance there is nothing unusual about a finding of no aid. But, as always, the devil is in the detail. OPAP holds the exclusive rights to organise various […]

- Article 107(1) ×

The Interpretation of Conflicting Norms regarding the Validity of State Aid Infolding Contracts Must Be Consistent with the Safeguard of Individual Rights Created by EU State Aid Law (C 505/14, Klausner)

forest
The following blog post is another contributory piece by Emanuela Matei, Associate Researcher at the Centre of European Legal Studies, Bucharest. Matei holds a Juris Master in European Business Law (Lund University, June 2012), a Magister legum (Lund University, June 2010) and a BSc in Economics & Business Administration (Lund University, June 2009). We are very glad to welcome her […]

How Reasonable The Private Investor May Be Assumed To Be? Corsica Ferries France

steel construction
The following article summary is a contributory piece by Gian Marco Galletti. The full piece was published in the Common Market Law Review. Galletti is working as a researcher at the Dickson Poon School of Law since 2013. He is currently working on a PhD in European law under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Biondi. He holds an LLB with […]

In Brief: Case C-518/13 Eventech and Case T-1/12 France v Commission

Lady Justice
A quick look at the two new rulings this week. This post gives a preliminary overview of the two new judgments this week (more in depth posts with analysis will be online soon!): On Wednesday 14th January the CJEU passed its ruling in the hotly awaited Eventech case (Case C-518/13), while a day later the General Court gave its word on […]

In Brief: Case T-58/13, Club Hotel Loutraki AE and Others v Commission (judgment of 08.01.2015)

hotel pool
On Thursday the 8th January the GC dismissed all four pleas in the action for annulment of the Commission Decision finding that the exclusive rights granted to operate 35 000 Video Lottery Terminals and 13 games of chance were not State aid.   The case is can be accessed here (English and French versions currently available) and the press release here.Background to the […]

A Surprising Interpretation of the Concept of Selectivity

Tax measures are selective when they constitute an exception or deviation from the normal or common system of taxation. In addition, the exception must be open only to a pre-defined category of undertakings. IntroductionOften, the decisive element in whether a tax measure constitutes State aid is the existence of selectivity. On 7 November 2014, the General Court ruled on two […]

Reduction of Property Taxes and Electricity Tariffs

calculator
Relief from property tax is State aid even when the user of the property is involved in defence contracts. Providing cheaper electricity to a few manufacturers cannot be considered to be an appropriate measure for regional development. Introduction This article summarises several judgments which were delivered in October 2014. They concern a tax exemption in Spain and reduction of electricity […]

A Measure is Selective if its Application is Narrower than the Scope of the Objective it Seeks to Achieve

Atomium Monument
A measure is attributed to a decision of a Member State if it is allowed but not mandated by an EU directive. A measure is selective when in practice it is open to fewer undertakings than the ones to which it can potentially apply by its own defined objectives. Introduction   This article examines Commission Decision 2014/686 on a guarantee […]

Compensatory Payments Can be State Aid

Tractor on a field
Article 107(1) also applies to payments that offset the damage caused by natural disasters. It is irrelevant that the compensation is partial or that competitors did not suffer similar damage. A measure can be State aid even if it is partially or wholly funded by private resources. It is sufficient that the resources come under state control. A measure is […]

Sale of Public Assets, SGEI and Electricity Levies

Electrical grid
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 […]

Land Development without State Aid

construction site
Activities which are part of the performance of public duties are non-economic in nature [e.g. spatial development]. Public funding of these activities does not constitute State aid. The transfer of resources from one level of government to another is transfer between public authorities and does not constitute State aid. Competitive selected developers obtain no advantage. Purchasers of subsidised assets who pay market prices […]

The Importance of a Correct Framing of the Private Creditor and Private Investor Tests

people in backlight
A public authority acting as private creditor must exhaust all legally available means of recovering money owed to it. A private creditor may agree to an amicable arrangement – depending on the complexity and duration of legal proceedings, the value of the collateral it holds and the chances of long-term viability of the debtor – if it results in repayment of […]

Competitive Elements in the Selection of Operators of Sports Infrastructure May not Be Enough to Eliminate State Aid

sport arena seats
The existence of an advantage cannot be excluded when the operator of an infrastructural facility is chosen through a competitive procedure which combines price with other selection criteria. The users of a subsidised infrastructural facility who pay a market fee may still derive an advantage when the facility is designed and/or reserved for certain usage. Introduction   Ever since the Leipzig-Halle […]

Non-notified State Aid and the Role of National Courts C 284/12, Deutsche Lufthansa v Flughafen Frankfurt-Hahn

airplane on the runway
Introduction What prevents a Member State from granting State aid without first notifying it to the European Commission? Cynics would answer “nothing, in fact”. Indeed, nothing can stop a country that is determined to provide a subsidy. But after the judgment in case Lufthansa v Frankfurt Hahn Airport, the answer must be “unnecessary hassle”. Even if there is a slight […]

How Not to Determine the Effect on Trade [Infrastructure for Tourism, Czech Republic (SA.35909)]

Prague panorama
Introduction Normally the articles in this blog identify landmark court rulings and seminal decisions of the Commission which set important precedents and provide useful guidance to State aid professionals and practitioners. This article deviates from this custom. It examines a recent case where the Commission concluded that public subsidies did not constitute State aid because intra-EU trade was not affected. […]

The Offsetting of a Structural Disadvantage Is still State Aid

scale and a book
Introduction Normally it is conceptually and technically fairly easy to determine whether an undertaking benefits from a public measure. However, this task becomes considerably more difficult in two situations: i) when a public authority claims that it acts like a private investor and ii) when a public measure is intended to compensate for a disadvantage suffered by the beneficiary undertaking […]

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 […]

Selectivity and Administrative Discretion

computer keyboard
On 18 July 2013, in case C-6/12, the Court of Justice of the European Union rendered a judgment on an interesting aspect of the concept of selectivity.[1] The judgment concerned a request for preliminary ruling in a dispute between “P Oy”, a Finnish company, and Finnish tax authorities. The tax authorities refused to allow P Oy to deduct losses incurred in […]

The Confusion between Necessity and Proportionality of State Aid [Case SA.35738: Public Funding of Port Infrastructure]

port
Introduction Several postings in this blog have examined cases concerning funding of port, airport or sport infrastructure. These cases have all had interesting peculiarities. Some involved no state aid because public authorities acted as private investors, while in other cases the funding arrangements were designed in such a way so that the state aid to operators would not spill over […]

The Flexible Boundary between Economic and Non-economic Activities

gavel, animal figures, euros
This is a rather long posting divided into two parts both of which deal with the concept of economic activity. In part I, I analyse two cases outside the field of state aid that dealt with the concepts of undertaking and economic activity. Both of them originated in legal proceedings initiated before Austrian courts. In part II (that will come […]

How to Use Economic Tools to Ensure the Proportionality of Aid (Commission Decision SA.34938 on a gas storage facility in Poland)

industry
Introduction Normally, economic analysis is used by the Commission to find out whether a measure confers an abnormal advantage to an undertaking. This would be the case, for example, when a public authority makes an investment that generates a return that falls below what the market would demand. The recipient undertaking derives an abnormal advantage [i.e. an advantage that would […]

Public Support without State Aid

tablet with chart tabelle
Public measures that do not constitute state aid are as interesting as the measures that do provide aid. This posting examines two measures that have been found not to fall within the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU because they do not satisfy one or more of the four criteria laid down in that Article. Non-economic activity: Commission Decision SA.35529 on […]

PuState Resources and Payments between Undertakings

euro coins
Introduction A couple of years ago, the big issue in State aid law was the concept of selectivity. The judgments in the British Aggregates and Dutch NOx cases expanded, elaborated, and, some argued, convoluted the criteria for determining whether a measure was selective or not. This year, the big issue for sure is the concept of State resources. First came […]

Exceptional Circumstances, Natural Disasters, Commercial Risk and Rights of Complainants

tornado
This posting examines several recent measures which do not have a single common theme. However, each measure has unusual elements which should be of interest to State aid professionals. Exceptional circumstances: Commission Decision 2013/197 on aid to Cantiere Navale De Poli (IT)[1] The measure in question concerned State aid that Italy intended to provide to shipyard Cantiere Navale De Poli […]

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 […]

Fiscal Leveraging: Donations and State Aid for Culture and Sports

runners on the track
Introduction In this blog I examine primarily a Dutch measure that supports cultural institutions by providing tax incentives to individuals and corporations to make donations to those institutions. This is an unusual construction because the direct beneficiaries are different from the indirect beneficiaries which, however, are the main targets of the measure. This construction has been used rather extensively in […]

Objectively Justified Pricing: The Market Economy Operator Principle

office table
Introduction: Objective justification of price differentiation In a landmark judgment 25 years ago [February 1988], the Court of Justice established that business behaviour that appears to deviate from normal market practices can still conform with the market economy operator principle [MEOP] which is a variation of the better known market economy investor principle [MEIP]. Both principles are based on the […]

Airport Operators and Budget Airlines [Commission Decision SA.23324: Finavia, Airpro and Ryanair at Tampere-Pirkkala Airport

people on the airport
During the past 18 months or so, the European Commission has launched more than 20 investigations in the funding of regional airports and the arrangements that these airports have concluded with budget airlines such as Ryanair. This posting analyses a very recent Commission decision which found that no State aid was granted to either the airport operator or Ryanair. This […]

Where is the Money? The Link between Advantage and Transfer of State Resources

100 euro detail
On 19 March 2013, the Court of Justice delivered an important judgment in case C-399/10 P, Bouygues v European Commission concerning aid that was granted by France to France Telecom. The case was an appeal to an earlier ruling of the General Court in case T 425/04 France and Others v Commission which annulled Article 1 of Commission Decision 2006/621 […]

An “Alternative” Method of Valuation for State-Aid-Free Sale of Public Land

construction site
The obligation of the state to act as a private vendor   When a public authority sells an asset to an undertaking, it must sell it at market price. The case law is clear on this point, especially with respect to the sale of public land or a building. Such a sale may constitute state aid “where it is not […]

The Market Economy Vendor Principle: Sale of Public Land by the Dutch Municipality of Leidschendam-Voorburg [Commission Decision SA.24123]

Cadastre
The previous posting examined a case where the European Commission applied the Market Economy Investor Principle [MEIP]. This is the principle that is used to determine whether there is state aid in commercial transactions between public authorities and undertakings. According to Article 345 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union [TFEU], the European Union is neutral with […]

The Curious Case of Applying the Market Economy Investor Principle to a Monopoly

monopoly game
On 3 October 2012, the European Commission concluded, in case SA.33988, that OPAP, the Greek operator of games of chance received no state aid because the Market Economy Investor Principle applied.[1] At first glance there is nothing unusual about a finding of no aid. But, as always, the devil is in the detail. OPAP holds the exclusive rights to organise various […]

- Article 107(1) ×

The Interpretation of Conflicting Norms regarding the Validity of State Aid Infolding Contracts Must Be Consistent with the Safeguard of Individual Rights Created by EU State Aid Law (C 505/14, Klausner)

forest
The following blog post is another contributory piece by Emanuela Matei, Associate Researcher at the Centre of European Legal Studies, Bucharest. Matei holds a Juris Master in European Business Law (Lund University, June 2012), a Magister legum (Lund University, June 2010) and a BSc in Economics & Business Administration (Lund University, June 2009). We are very glad to welcome her […]

How Reasonable The Private Investor May Be Assumed To Be? Corsica Ferries France

steel construction
The following article summary is a contributory piece by Gian Marco Galletti. The full piece was published in the Common Market Law Review. Galletti is working as a researcher at the Dickson Poon School of Law since 2013. He is currently working on a PhD in European law under the supervision of Prof. Andrea Biondi. He holds an LLB with […]

In Brief: Case C-518/13 Eventech and Case T-1/12 France v Commission

Lady Justice
A quick look at the two new rulings this week. This post gives a preliminary overview of the two new judgments this week (more in depth posts with analysis will be online soon!): On Wednesday 14th January the CJEU passed its ruling in the hotly awaited Eventech case (Case C-518/13), while a day later the General Court gave its word on […]

In Brief: Case T-58/13, Club Hotel Loutraki AE and Others v Commission (judgment of 08.01.2015)

hotel pool
On Thursday the 8th January the GC dismissed all four pleas in the action for annulment of the Commission Decision finding that the exclusive rights granted to operate 35 000 Video Lottery Terminals and 13 games of chance were not State aid.   The case is can be accessed here (English and French versions currently available) and the press release here.Background to the […]

A Surprising Interpretation of the Concept of Selectivity

Tax measures are selective when they constitute an exception or deviation from the normal or common system of taxation. In addition, the exception must be open only to a pre-defined category of undertakings. IntroductionOften, the decisive element in whether a tax measure constitutes State aid is the existence of selectivity. On 7 November 2014, the General Court ruled on two […]

Reduction of Property Taxes and Electricity Tariffs

calculator
Relief from property tax is State aid even when the user of the property is involved in defence contracts. Providing cheaper electricity to a few manufacturers cannot be considered to be an appropriate measure for regional development. Introduction This article summarises several judgments which were delivered in October 2014. They concern a tax exemption in Spain and reduction of electricity […]

A Measure is Selective if its Application is Narrower than the Scope of the Objective it Seeks to Achieve

Atomium Monument
A measure is attributed to a decision of a Member State if it is allowed but not mandated by an EU directive. A measure is selective when in practice it is open to fewer undertakings than the ones to which it can potentially apply by its own defined objectives. Introduction   This article examines Commission Decision 2014/686 on a guarantee […]

Compensatory Payments Can be State Aid

Tractor on a field
Article 107(1) also applies to payments that offset the damage caused by natural disasters. It is irrelevant that the compensation is partial or that competitors did not suffer similar damage. A measure can be State aid even if it is partially or wholly funded by private resources. It is sufficient that the resources come under state control. A measure is […]

Sale of Public Assets, SGEI and Electricity Levies

Electrical grid
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 […]

Land Development without State Aid

construction site
Activities which are part of the performance of public duties are non-economic in nature [e.g. spatial development]. Public funding of these activities does not constitute State aid. The transfer of resources from one level of government to another is transfer between public authorities and does not constitute State aid. Competitive selected developers obtain no advantage. Purchasers of subsidised assets who pay market prices […]

The Importance of a Correct Framing of the Private Creditor and Private Investor Tests

people in backlight
A public authority acting as private creditor must exhaust all legally available means of recovering money owed to it. A private creditor may agree to an amicable arrangement – depending on the complexity and duration of legal proceedings, the value of the collateral it holds and the chances of long-term viability of the debtor – if it results in repayment of […]

Competitive Elements in the Selection of Operators of Sports Infrastructure May not Be Enough to Eliminate State Aid

sport arena seats
The existence of an advantage cannot be excluded when the operator of an infrastructural facility is chosen through a competitive procedure which combines price with other selection criteria. The users of a subsidised infrastructural facility who pay a market fee may still derive an advantage when the facility is designed and/or reserved for certain usage. Introduction   Ever since the Leipzig-Halle […]

Non-notified State Aid and the Role of National Courts C 284/12, Deutsche Lufthansa v Flughafen Frankfurt-Hahn

airplane on the runway
Introduction What prevents a Member State from granting State aid without first notifying it to the European Commission? Cynics would answer “nothing, in fact”. Indeed, nothing can stop a country that is determined to provide a subsidy. But after the judgment in case Lufthansa v Frankfurt Hahn Airport, the answer must be “unnecessary hassle”. Even if there is a slight […]

How Not to Determine the Effect on Trade [Infrastructure for Tourism, Czech Republic (SA.35909)]

Prague panorama
Introduction Normally the articles in this blog identify landmark court rulings and seminal decisions of the Commission which set important precedents and provide useful guidance to State aid professionals and practitioners. This article deviates from this custom. It examines a recent case where the Commission concluded that public subsidies did not constitute State aid because intra-EU trade was not affected. […]

The Offsetting of a Structural Disadvantage Is still State Aid

scale and a book
Introduction Normally it is conceptually and technically fairly easy to determine whether an undertaking benefits from a public measure. However, this task becomes considerably more difficult in two situations: i) when a public authority claims that it acts like a private investor and ii) when a public measure is intended to compensate for a disadvantage suffered by the beneficiary undertaking […]

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 […]

Selectivity and Administrative Discretion

computer keyboard
On 18 July 2013, in case C-6/12, the Court of Justice of the European Union rendered a judgment on an interesting aspect of the concept of selectivity.[1] The judgment concerned a request for preliminary ruling in a dispute between “P Oy”, a Finnish company, and Finnish tax authorities. The tax authorities refused to allow P Oy to deduct losses incurred in […]

The Confusion between Necessity and Proportionality of State Aid [Case SA.35738: Public Funding of Port Infrastructure]

port
Introduction Several postings in this blog have examined cases concerning funding of port, airport or sport infrastructure. These cases have all had interesting peculiarities. Some involved no state aid because public authorities acted as private investors, while in other cases the funding arrangements were designed in such a way so that the state aid to operators would not spill over […]

The Flexible Boundary between Economic and Non-economic Activities

gavel, animal figures, euros
This is a rather long posting divided into two parts both of which deal with the concept of economic activity. In part I, I analyse two cases outside the field of state aid that dealt with the concepts of undertaking and economic activity. Both of them originated in legal proceedings initiated before Austrian courts. In part II (that will come […]

How to Use Economic Tools to Ensure the Proportionality of Aid (Commission Decision SA.34938 on a gas storage facility in Poland)

industry
Introduction Normally, economic analysis is used by the Commission to find out whether a measure confers an abnormal advantage to an undertaking. This would be the case, for example, when a public authority makes an investment that generates a return that falls below what the market would demand. The recipient undertaking derives an abnormal advantage [i.e. an advantage that would […]

Public Support without State Aid

tablet with chart tabelle
Public measures that do not constitute state aid are as interesting as the measures that do provide aid. This posting examines two measures that have been found not to fall within the scope of Article 107(1) TFEU because they do not satisfy one or more of the four criteria laid down in that Article. Non-economic activity: Commission Decision SA.35529 on […]

PuState Resources and Payments between Undertakings

euro coins
Introduction A couple of years ago, the big issue in State aid law was the concept of selectivity. The judgments in the British Aggregates and Dutch NOx cases expanded, elaborated, and, some argued, convoluted the criteria for determining whether a measure was selective or not. This year, the big issue for sure is the concept of State resources. First came […]

Exceptional Circumstances, Natural Disasters, Commercial Risk and Rights of Complainants

tornado
This posting examines several recent measures which do not have a single common theme. However, each measure has unusual elements which should be of interest to State aid professionals. Exceptional circumstances: Commission Decision 2013/197 on aid to Cantiere Navale De Poli (IT)[1] The measure in question concerned State aid that Italy intended to provide to shipyard Cantiere Navale De Poli […]

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 […]

Fiscal Leveraging: Donations and State Aid for Culture and Sports

runners on the track
Introduction In this blog I examine primarily a Dutch measure that supports cultural institutions by providing tax incentives to individuals and corporations to make donations to those institutions. This is an unusual construction because the direct beneficiaries are different from the indirect beneficiaries which, however, are the main targets of the measure. This construction has been used rather extensively in […]

Objectively Justified Pricing: The Market Economy Operator Principle

office table
Introduction: Objective justification of price differentiation In a landmark judgment 25 years ago [February 1988], the Court of Justice established that business behaviour that appears to deviate from normal market practices can still conform with the market economy operator principle [MEOP] which is a variation of the better known market economy investor principle [MEIP]. Both principles are based on the […]

Airport Operators and Budget Airlines [Commission Decision SA.23324: Finavia, Airpro and Ryanair at Tampere-Pirkkala Airport

people on the airport
During the past 18 months or so, the European Commission has launched more than 20 investigations in the funding of regional airports and the arrangements that these airports have concluded with budget airlines such as Ryanair. This posting analyses a very recent Commission decision which found that no State aid was granted to either the airport operator or Ryanair. This […]

Where is the Money? The Link between Advantage and Transfer of State Resources

100 euro detail
On 19 March 2013, the Court of Justice delivered an important judgment in case C-399/10 P, Bouygues v European Commission concerning aid that was granted by France to France Telecom. The case was an appeal to an earlier ruling of the General Court in case T 425/04 France and Others v Commission which annulled Article 1 of Commission Decision 2006/621 […]

An “Alternative” Method of Valuation for State-Aid-Free Sale of Public Land

construction site
The obligation of the state to act as a private vendor   When a public authority sells an asset to an undertaking, it must sell it at market price. The case law is clear on this point, especially with respect to the sale of public land or a building. Such a sale may constitute state aid “where it is not […]

The Market Economy Vendor Principle: Sale of Public Land by the Dutch Municipality of Leidschendam-Voorburg [Commission Decision SA.24123]

Cadastre
The previous posting examined a case where the European Commission applied the Market Economy Investor Principle [MEIP]. This is the principle that is used to determine whether there is state aid in commercial transactions between public authorities and undertakings. According to Article 345 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union [TFEU], the European Union is neutral with […]

The Curious Case of Applying the Market Economy Investor Principle to a Monopoly

monopoly game
On 3 October 2012, the European Commission concluded, in case SA.33988, that OPAP, the Greek operator of games of chance received no state aid because the Market Economy Investor Principle applied.[1] At first glance there is nothing unusual about a finding of no aid. But, as always, the devil is in the detail. OPAP holds the exclusive rights to organise various […]

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 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 State aid 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!

Gastbeitrag einreichen

Nutzen Sie unseren Newsletter, um sich regelmäßig über Konferenzen, Workshops, Trainings und die  neuesten Ausgaben unserer Fachzeitschriften u.a. aus den Bereichen des europäischen Wettbewerbs- und Vergaberechte, Datenschutzrechte, Abfallrecht, Umwelt- und Planungsrecht sowie Chemikalien- und Pharmarecht zu informieren.

Verpassen Sie keine Events und Publikationen. Neuigkeiten abonnieren