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.

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- member states ×

Can a Tax (rather than a Tax Exemption) Confer a Selective Advantage?

A tax that is levied at one level of government and does not apply to products and activities at a different level of government need not be selective. Introduction A tax exemption normally confers a selective advantage, unless it is justified by the logic of the tax. Counterintuitively, a tax itself can be selectively advantageous if its scope is too […]

Presumed v Actual Compatibility of State aid with the Internal Market

State aid granted on the basis of the GBER may not be considered as authorised by the Commission. The task of Member States is to ensure that all of the requirements of the GBER are fulfilled. In particular, Member States must confirm the incentive effect of aid to large enterprises. Introduction[1]   In March 2019, the Court of Justice delivered […]

Investor Protection and Existing Aid

Aid granted before accession to the EU may not be assessed by the Commission. Introduction It is fairly safe to say that in the sixty years of case law on State aid, the Court of Justice has ruled that there are just four instances in which payment of public money to an undertaking does not constitute State aid on the […]

The Commission Must Explain its Decision

A Commission decision that affects the legal position of an undertaking is actionable before EU courts. The opening of the formal investigation procedure must lead the Member State concerned to suspend the aid measure and may result in a recovery ruling by a national court. The Commission must be consistent in its reasoning. If it cannot use certain information at […]

Many Tax Rulings Do Not Make a Single Aid Scheme

The autonomy that Member States enjoy in the field of direct taxation must be exercised in compliance with EU State aid law. A State aid measure is considered to be a “scheme” when (a) no further implementing acts are necessary, (b) the granting authority has no discretion in how the measure is applied and (c) the measure defines the eligible […]

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 […]

The Date and Scope of Public Service Compensation

Aid is deemed to be granted on the date the beneficiary undertaking acquires the legal right to it, regardless of whether it is actually paid on that date. It is not enough for a public authority to define the service that it wants an operator to provide and the price that it should charge. It must also define where and […]

State Aid Provisions in the Draft Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU

The agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU requires compliance with EU State aid rules.   Introduction   On 14 November 2018, EU and UK negotiators finalised the text of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.[1] The Agreement has to be ratified by the UK and the other 27 Member States. Given immediate […]

The European Commission’s Code of Best Practices on State Aid Procedures

Closer cooperation between Commission services and Member States.   Introduction   The European Commission, DG Competition, published on 16 July 2018 on its website and then on 19 July 2018 in the Official Journal of the EU a Code of Best Practices for the Conduct of State Aid Control Procedures.[1]The purpose of the Code is to provide guidance to Member […]

Remedying the Damage of a Natural Disaster through Incentives for New Investments

Damage from natural disasters can be remedied in the short-term through direct compensation or in the longer-term through investment subsidies to support new productive capacity.   Introduction   This article reviews a rather straightforward case which, however, is also quite unusual. It concerns a measure to remedy the effect of recent earthquakes in Italy. What makes it unusual is that […]

Sector-Specific Tax Exemptions

A measure that covers a whole sector can be selective. Distortions caused by the policies of other Member States cannot justify the granting of State aid. The purpose of State aid is not to ensure equal conditions of competition across Member States.   Introduction On 31 May 2018, the General Court ruled in case T-160/16, Groningen Seaports v European Commission.[1] Groningen […]

Exemption from Taxes that Protect the Environment May not be Selective – Part II

Member States have discretion to impose taxes that penalise environmentally harmful activities. Exemption of undertakings whose activities do not harm the environment does not constitute State aid whenever the exempted undertakings are not in a comparable situation.   Application of Article 107(1) to the Asturias tax   In this case, exempted establishments were those with sales area less than 4000m2 or […]

Compensation for Public Service Obligations

Compensation for public service obligations may be fixed at less than the net extra costs of the provider of the public service to induce it to become more efficient.   Introduction   Every three years the UK determines the compensation it provides to the Post Office Limited (POL) for the extra costs of the public services it provides. Commission decision […]

Correct Pricing for the Use of Publicly Funded Infrastructure

Publicly funded infrastructure must be made available to users at prices that correspond to its market value.   Introduction   When publicly-funded infrastructure is placed at the disposal of an undertaking, that undertaking must pay a market price, otherwise it derives an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. But what is the market price? Is it the price […]

PART II: Concessions and State Aid: Does the State Act as a Regulator or Market Operator?

When Member States act as regulators they need not maximise revenue from the granting of concessions rights. When Member States act as regulators they must grant concession rights on the basis of procedures which are competitive, transparent, non-discriminatory and unconditional.   Part II: Public procurement principles[1] Principles for selection of concession holders The Commission examined also, in addition to the […]

i) Transfer of State Resources, ii) Non-recovery of Incompatible Aid, iii) Primacy of Agricultural Policy over Competition Policy

Private resources that come under the control of a public authority become state resources. The only defence for not recovering incompatible aid is absolute impossibility. Agricultural policy objectives take precedence over those of competition policy. Introduction This article reviews a case involving transfer of state resources and a case concerning failure to recovery of incompatible State aid. It also draws […]

State Resources criteria in the spotlight once again: Comments on the Opinion of the Advocate General in case C-329/15 ENEA SA w Poznaniu v Prezes Urzędu Regulacji Energetyki

Today we are glad to welcome Nevin Alija to the State Aid Blog. She is a PhD Candidate at the Católica Research Center for the Future of Law of the Católica Global School of Law, Universidade Católica Portuguesa. In this blog post she examines case C-329/15 ENEA SA w Poznaniu v Prezes Urzędu Regulacji Energetyki. Thank you, Nevin, for sharing […]

What Costs Are Charged by Public Authorities when they Act as Market Operators?

Fees charged by operators to users of infrastructure must cover all relevant costs. The relevant costs are those which are causally linked to the agreements between users and operators. Introduction The rules in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union are neutral in their treatment of private or state-owned companies [Article 345 TFEU]. This means that companies cannot […]

The Need for Public Services Is Shown by Absence of Private Services

The scope of public service obligations must be proportional to the identified market failure.   Introduction On 1 March 2017, the General Court dismissed the application of Societe Nationale Maritime Corse Mediterranee [SNCM] against the Commission [case T-454/13, SNCM v Commission].[1] The Commission had found in decision 2013/435 that SNCM received incompatible State aid that had to be recovered. SNCM carried […]

State Aid on the Day after the Exit of the UK from the EU

The UK will “take back control” over State aid. With it will come the challenge of following EU law and practice. Introduction Last June I wrote an article on how the withdrawal of the UK from the EU could affect the application of State aid rules in the UK. The article concluded with the following prediction. “The UK will soon […]

Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid: Part I – Economic Activities & State Resources

The Notice provides a thorough review of the case law and the decisional practice of the Commission.   Introduction After more than two years of deliberations, the Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid was published in the Official Journal on 19 July 2016.[1] The Notice presents “the Commission’s understanding of Article 107(1) of the Treaty, as interpreted by the […]

State Aid Rules and Transfer Pricing

Tax rulings on transfer pricing have to approximate market-based outcomes.   Introduction Twenty years ago, the European Commission initiated discussion on how State aid rules could apply to direct taxation. In 1998 it adopted its Notice on direct business taxation. At about the same time the Commission launched several formal investigations which culminated in negative decisions. In 2013 and 2014, […]

Tax Exemptions Authorised by the Council of the EU

State aid is an objective concept. When the Commission assesses a measure it has to examine its effects and cannot be bound by a decision of the Council. A beneficiary of State aid cannot entertain legitimate expectations simply because the Commission does not appear to object to the aid.   Introduction On 22 April 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment […]

Why Do some Member States Offer so much Fiscal Aid?

Member States differ significantly in their propensity to grant fiscal aid.   Introduction Interest in fiscal aid has been rekindled recently by two unrelated events. First, the Commission opened a number of investigations on the alleged special tax treatment accorded to multinational companies such as Apple and Starbucks. These investigations are believed to be almost completed and the Commission is […]

Germany Scores a Hat-trick of Non-Aid Measures!

At the end of April, the European Commission announced that seven measures were found not to constitute State aid because they could not be reasonably expected to affect cross-border trade. The finding of no affectation of trade is rare. That seven measures were thought not capable of affecting trade is very exceptional. Perhaps the Commission is trying to signal to […]

Non-Economic Activities

Health insurance which is based on the principle of social solidarity is not economic in nature. Solidarity means that citizens have a right to the service in question and the quality of the service they obtain is not linked to the price they pay, if any. Health services which are provided privately for remuneration are economic in nature. Services provided […]

- member states ×

Can a Tax (rather than a Tax Exemption) Confer a Selective Advantage?

A tax that is levied at one level of government and does not apply to products and activities at a different level of government need not be selective. Introduction A tax exemption normally confers a selective advantage, unless it is justified by the logic of the tax. Counterintuitively, a tax itself can be selectively advantageous if its scope is too […]

Presumed v Actual Compatibility of State aid with the Internal Market

State aid granted on the basis of the GBER may not be considered as authorised by the Commission. The task of Member States is to ensure that all of the requirements of the GBER are fulfilled. In particular, Member States must confirm the incentive effect of aid to large enterprises. Introduction[1]   In March 2019, the Court of Justice delivered […]

Investor Protection and Existing Aid

Aid granted before accession to the EU may not be assessed by the Commission. Introduction It is fairly safe to say that in the sixty years of case law on State aid, the Court of Justice has ruled that there are just four instances in which payment of public money to an undertaking does not constitute State aid on the […]

The Commission Must Explain its Decision

A Commission decision that affects the legal position of an undertaking is actionable before EU courts. The opening of the formal investigation procedure must lead the Member State concerned to suspend the aid measure and may result in a recovery ruling by a national court. The Commission must be consistent in its reasoning. If it cannot use certain information at […]

Many Tax Rulings Do Not Make a Single Aid Scheme

The autonomy that Member States enjoy in the field of direct taxation must be exercised in compliance with EU State aid law. A State aid measure is considered to be a “scheme” when (a) no further implementing acts are necessary, (b) the granting authority has no discretion in how the measure is applied and (c) the measure defines the eligible […]

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 […]

The Date and Scope of Public Service Compensation

Aid is deemed to be granted on the date the beneficiary undertaking acquires the legal right to it, regardless of whether it is actually paid on that date. It is not enough for a public authority to define the service that it wants an operator to provide and the price that it should charge. It must also define where and […]

State Aid Provisions in the Draft Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU

The agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU requires compliance with EU State aid rules.   Introduction   On 14 November 2018, EU and UK negotiators finalised the text of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.[1] The Agreement has to be ratified by the UK and the other 27 Member States. Given immediate […]

The European Commission’s Code of Best Practices on State Aid Procedures

Closer cooperation between Commission services and Member States.   Introduction   The European Commission, DG Competition, published on 16 July 2018 on its website and then on 19 July 2018 in the Official Journal of the EU a Code of Best Practices for the Conduct of State Aid Control Procedures.[1]The purpose of the Code is to provide guidance to Member […]

Remedying the Damage of a Natural Disaster through Incentives for New Investments

Damage from natural disasters can be remedied in the short-term through direct compensation or in the longer-term through investment subsidies to support new productive capacity.   Introduction   This article reviews a rather straightforward case which, however, is also quite unusual. It concerns a measure to remedy the effect of recent earthquakes in Italy. What makes it unusual is that […]

Sector-Specific Tax Exemptions

A measure that covers a whole sector can be selective. Distortions caused by the policies of other Member States cannot justify the granting of State aid. The purpose of State aid is not to ensure equal conditions of competition across Member States.   Introduction On 31 May 2018, the General Court ruled in case T-160/16, Groningen Seaports v European Commission.[1] Groningen […]

Exemption from Taxes that Protect the Environment May not be Selective – Part II

Member States have discretion to impose taxes that penalise environmentally harmful activities. Exemption of undertakings whose activities do not harm the environment does not constitute State aid whenever the exempted undertakings are not in a comparable situation.   Application of Article 107(1) to the Asturias tax   In this case, exempted establishments were those with sales area less than 4000m2 or […]

Compensation for Public Service Obligations

Compensation for public service obligations may be fixed at less than the net extra costs of the provider of the public service to induce it to become more efficient.   Introduction   Every three years the UK determines the compensation it provides to the Post Office Limited (POL) for the extra costs of the public services it provides. Commission decision […]

Correct Pricing for the Use of Publicly Funded Infrastructure

Publicly funded infrastructure must be made available to users at prices that correspond to its market value.   Introduction   When publicly-funded infrastructure is placed at the disposal of an undertaking, that undertaking must pay a market price, otherwise it derives an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. But what is the market price? Is it the price […]

PART II: Concessions and State Aid: Does the State Act as a Regulator or Market Operator?

When Member States act as regulators they need not maximise revenue from the granting of concessions rights. When Member States act as regulators they must grant concession rights on the basis of procedures which are competitive, transparent, non-discriminatory and unconditional.   Part II: Public procurement principles[1] Principles for selection of concession holders The Commission examined also, in addition to the […]

i) Transfer of State Resources, ii) Non-recovery of Incompatible Aid, iii) Primacy of Agricultural Policy over Competition Policy

Private resources that come under the control of a public authority become state resources. The only defence for not recovering incompatible aid is absolute impossibility. Agricultural policy objectives take precedence over those of competition policy. Introduction This article reviews a case involving transfer of state resources and a case concerning failure to recovery of incompatible State aid. It also draws […]

State Resources criteria in the spotlight once again: Comments on the Opinion of the Advocate General in case C-329/15 ENEA SA w Poznaniu v Prezes Urzędu Regulacji Energetyki

Today we are glad to welcome Nevin Alija to the State Aid Blog. She is a PhD Candidate at the Católica Research Center for the Future of Law of the Católica Global School of Law, Universidade Católica Portuguesa. In this blog post she examines case C-329/15 ENEA SA w Poznaniu v Prezes Urzędu Regulacji Energetyki. Thank you, Nevin, for sharing […]

What Costs Are Charged by Public Authorities when they Act as Market Operators?

Fees charged by operators to users of infrastructure must cover all relevant costs. The relevant costs are those which are causally linked to the agreements between users and operators. Introduction The rules in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union are neutral in their treatment of private or state-owned companies [Article 345 TFEU]. This means that companies cannot […]

The Need for Public Services Is Shown by Absence of Private Services

The scope of public service obligations must be proportional to the identified market failure.   Introduction On 1 March 2017, the General Court dismissed the application of Societe Nationale Maritime Corse Mediterranee [SNCM] against the Commission [case T-454/13, SNCM v Commission].[1] The Commission had found in decision 2013/435 that SNCM received incompatible State aid that had to be recovered. SNCM carried […]

State Aid on the Day after the Exit of the UK from the EU

The UK will “take back control” over State aid. With it will come the challenge of following EU law and practice. Introduction Last June I wrote an article on how the withdrawal of the UK from the EU could affect the application of State aid rules in the UK. The article concluded with the following prediction. “The UK will soon […]

Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid: Part I – Economic Activities & State Resources

The Notice provides a thorough review of the case law and the decisional practice of the Commission.   Introduction After more than two years of deliberations, the Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid was published in the Official Journal on 19 July 2016.[1] The Notice presents “the Commission’s understanding of Article 107(1) of the Treaty, as interpreted by the […]

State Aid Rules and Transfer Pricing

Tax rulings on transfer pricing have to approximate market-based outcomes.   Introduction Twenty years ago, the European Commission initiated discussion on how State aid rules could apply to direct taxation. In 1998 it adopted its Notice on direct business taxation. At about the same time the Commission launched several formal investigations which culminated in negative decisions. In 2013 and 2014, […]

Tax Exemptions Authorised by the Council of the EU

State aid is an objective concept. When the Commission assesses a measure it has to examine its effects and cannot be bound by a decision of the Council. A beneficiary of State aid cannot entertain legitimate expectations simply because the Commission does not appear to object to the aid.   Introduction On 22 April 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment […]

Why Do some Member States Offer so much Fiscal Aid?

Member States differ significantly in their propensity to grant fiscal aid.   Introduction Interest in fiscal aid has been rekindled recently by two unrelated events. First, the Commission opened a number of investigations on the alleged special tax treatment accorded to multinational companies such as Apple and Starbucks. These investigations are believed to be almost completed and the Commission is […]

Germany Scores a Hat-trick of Non-Aid Measures!

At the end of April, the European Commission announced that seven measures were found not to constitute State aid because they could not be reasonably expected to affect cross-border trade. The finding of no affectation of trade is rare. That seven measures were thought not capable of affecting trade is very exceptional. Perhaps the Commission is trying to signal to […]

Non-Economic Activities

Health insurance which is based on the principle of social solidarity is not economic in nature. Solidarity means that citizens have a right to the service in question and the quality of the service they obtain is not linked to the price they pay, if any. Health services which are provided privately for remuneration are economic in nature. Services provided […]

- member states ×

Can a Tax (rather than a Tax Exemption) Confer a Selective Advantage?

A tax that is levied at one level of government and does not apply to products and activities at a different level of government need not be selective. Introduction A tax exemption normally confers a selective advantage, unless it is justified by the logic of the tax. Counterintuitively, a tax itself can be selectively advantageous if its scope is too […]

Presumed v Actual Compatibility of State aid with the Internal Market

State aid granted on the basis of the GBER may not be considered as authorised by the Commission. The task of Member States is to ensure that all of the requirements of the GBER are fulfilled. In particular, Member States must confirm the incentive effect of aid to large enterprises. Introduction[1]   In March 2019, the Court of Justice delivered […]

Investor Protection and Existing Aid

Aid granted before accession to the EU may not be assessed by the Commission. Introduction It is fairly safe to say that in the sixty years of case law on State aid, the Court of Justice has ruled that there are just four instances in which payment of public money to an undertaking does not constitute State aid on the […]

The Commission Must Explain its Decision

A Commission decision that affects the legal position of an undertaking is actionable before EU courts. The opening of the formal investigation procedure must lead the Member State concerned to suspend the aid measure and may result in a recovery ruling by a national court. The Commission must be consistent in its reasoning. If it cannot use certain information at […]

Many Tax Rulings Do Not Make a Single Aid Scheme

The autonomy that Member States enjoy in the field of direct taxation must be exercised in compliance with EU State aid law. A State aid measure is considered to be a “scheme” when (a) no further implementing acts are necessary, (b) the granting authority has no discretion in how the measure is applied and (c) the measure defines the eligible […]

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 […]

The Date and Scope of Public Service Compensation

Aid is deemed to be granted on the date the beneficiary undertaking acquires the legal right to it, regardless of whether it is actually paid on that date. It is not enough for a public authority to define the service that it wants an operator to provide and the price that it should charge. It must also define where and […]

State Aid Provisions in the Draft Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU

The agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU requires compliance with EU State aid rules.   Introduction   On 14 November 2018, EU and UK negotiators finalised the text of the Agreement on the withdrawal of the UK from the EU.[1] The Agreement has to be ratified by the UK and the other 27 Member States. Given immediate […]

The European Commission’s Code of Best Practices on State Aid Procedures

Closer cooperation between Commission services and Member States.   Introduction   The European Commission, DG Competition, published on 16 July 2018 on its website and then on 19 July 2018 in the Official Journal of the EU a Code of Best Practices for the Conduct of State Aid Control Procedures.[1]The purpose of the Code is to provide guidance to Member […]

Remedying the Damage of a Natural Disaster through Incentives for New Investments

Damage from natural disasters can be remedied in the short-term through direct compensation or in the longer-term through investment subsidies to support new productive capacity.   Introduction   This article reviews a rather straightforward case which, however, is also quite unusual. It concerns a measure to remedy the effect of recent earthquakes in Italy. What makes it unusual is that […]

Sector-Specific Tax Exemptions

A measure that covers a whole sector can be selective. Distortions caused by the policies of other Member States cannot justify the granting of State aid. The purpose of State aid is not to ensure equal conditions of competition across Member States.   Introduction On 31 May 2018, the General Court ruled in case T-160/16, Groningen Seaports v European Commission.[1] Groningen […]

Exemption from Taxes that Protect the Environment May not be Selective – Part II

Member States have discretion to impose taxes that penalise environmentally harmful activities. Exemption of undertakings whose activities do not harm the environment does not constitute State aid whenever the exempted undertakings are not in a comparable situation.   Application of Article 107(1) to the Asturias tax   In this case, exempted establishments were those with sales area less than 4000m2 or […]

Compensation for Public Service Obligations

Compensation for public service obligations may be fixed at less than the net extra costs of the provider of the public service to induce it to become more efficient.   Introduction   Every three years the UK determines the compensation it provides to the Post Office Limited (POL) for the extra costs of the public services it provides. Commission decision […]

Correct Pricing for the Use of Publicly Funded Infrastructure

Publicly funded infrastructure must be made available to users at prices that correspond to its market value.   Introduction   When publicly-funded infrastructure is placed at the disposal of an undertaking, that undertaking must pay a market price, otherwise it derives an advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU. But what is the market price? Is it the price […]

PART II: Concessions and State Aid: Does the State Act as a Regulator or Market Operator?

When Member States act as regulators they need not maximise revenue from the granting of concessions rights. When Member States act as regulators they must grant concession rights on the basis of procedures which are competitive, transparent, non-discriminatory and unconditional.   Part II: Public procurement principles[1] Principles for selection of concession holders The Commission examined also, in addition to the […]

i) Transfer of State Resources, ii) Non-recovery of Incompatible Aid, iii) Primacy of Agricultural Policy over Competition Policy

Private resources that come under the control of a public authority become state resources. The only defence for not recovering incompatible aid is absolute impossibility. Agricultural policy objectives take precedence over those of competition policy. Introduction This article reviews a case involving transfer of state resources and a case concerning failure to recovery of incompatible State aid. It also draws […]

State Resources criteria in the spotlight once again: Comments on the Opinion of the Advocate General in case C-329/15 ENEA SA w Poznaniu v Prezes Urzędu Regulacji Energetyki

Today we are glad to welcome Nevin Alija to the State Aid Blog. She is a PhD Candidate at the Católica Research Center for the Future of Law of the Católica Global School of Law, Universidade Católica Portuguesa. In this blog post she examines case C-329/15 ENEA SA w Poznaniu v Prezes Urzędu Regulacji Energetyki. Thank you, Nevin, for sharing […]

What Costs Are Charged by Public Authorities when they Act as Market Operators?

Fees charged by operators to users of infrastructure must cover all relevant costs. The relevant costs are those which are causally linked to the agreements between users and operators. Introduction The rules in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union are neutral in their treatment of private or state-owned companies [Article 345 TFEU]. This means that companies cannot […]

The Need for Public Services Is Shown by Absence of Private Services

The scope of public service obligations must be proportional to the identified market failure.   Introduction On 1 March 2017, the General Court dismissed the application of Societe Nationale Maritime Corse Mediterranee [SNCM] against the Commission [case T-454/13, SNCM v Commission].[1] The Commission had found in decision 2013/435 that SNCM received incompatible State aid that had to be recovered. SNCM carried […]

State Aid on the Day after the Exit of the UK from the EU

The UK will “take back control” over State aid. With it will come the challenge of following EU law and practice. Introduction Last June I wrote an article on how the withdrawal of the UK from the EU could affect the application of State aid rules in the UK. The article concluded with the following prediction. “The UK will soon […]

Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid: Part I – Economic Activities & State Resources

The Notice provides a thorough review of the case law and the decisional practice of the Commission.   Introduction After more than two years of deliberations, the Commission Notice on the Notion of State Aid was published in the Official Journal on 19 July 2016.[1] The Notice presents “the Commission’s understanding of Article 107(1) of the Treaty, as interpreted by the […]

State Aid Rules and Transfer Pricing

Tax rulings on transfer pricing have to approximate market-based outcomes.   Introduction Twenty years ago, the European Commission initiated discussion on how State aid rules could apply to direct taxation. In 1998 it adopted its Notice on direct business taxation. At about the same time the Commission launched several formal investigations which culminated in negative decisions. In 2013 and 2014, […]

Tax Exemptions Authorised by the Council of the EU

State aid is an objective concept. When the Commission assesses a measure it has to examine its effects and cannot be bound by a decision of the Council. A beneficiary of State aid cannot entertain legitimate expectations simply because the Commission does not appear to object to the aid.   Introduction On 22 April 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment […]

Why Do some Member States Offer so much Fiscal Aid?

Member States differ significantly in their propensity to grant fiscal aid.   Introduction Interest in fiscal aid has been rekindled recently by two unrelated events. First, the Commission opened a number of investigations on the alleged special tax treatment accorded to multinational companies such as Apple and Starbucks. These investigations are believed to be almost completed and the Commission is […]

Germany Scores a Hat-trick of Non-Aid Measures!

At the end of April, the European Commission announced that seven measures were found not to constitute State aid because they could not be reasonably expected to affect cross-border trade. The finding of no affectation of trade is rare. That seven measures were thought not capable of affecting trade is very exceptional. Perhaps the Commission is trying to signal to […]

Non-Economic Activities

Health insurance which is based on the principle of social solidarity is not economic in nature. Solidarity means that citizens have a right to the service in question and the quality of the service they obtain is not linked to the price they pay, if any. Health services which are provided privately for remuneration are economic in nature. Services provided […]

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!

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