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!

- tax ×

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 […]

Individually Notified Regional Aid

All individual awards of aid granted to the same project over a three-year period have to be counted together and remain below the maximum allowable aid intensity in relation to the sum of eligible costs. Introduction Hungary operates an aid scheme that offers tax credits to encourage regional investment. The scheme has been implemented on the basis of the GBER […]

The Problem with Turnover Taxes

Economies of scale do not necessarily correlate with ability to pay. Introduction On Thursday, 11 July 2019, France became the first European country to adopt a tax on digital sales. At about the same time, President Donald Trump warned that the US would retaliate with punitive tariffs. The US believes that the tax is aimed at its internet giants such […]

What Happens when Internal Market Rules and State Aid Rules Clash?

A tax refund may not be granted, if it constitutes non-notified State aid.   Introduction   It is a well-established principle that restrictions on internal market rights or freedoms may not be attached to a State aid measure. Indeed, current State aid rules [e.g. GBER, guidelines] explicitly exclude from their scope any aid measure which is inseparably linked to a […]

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 […]

Justification of a Tax Exemption

Prevention of excessive taxation may justify tax exemption. Prevention of abuse may justify limits to the tax exemption.   Introduction   A tax exemption may not constitute state aid if it is justified by reasons which are linked to the nature or general scheme of the tax system. This is what the Court of Justice said on 19 December 2018, […]

Funding of the Spanish Public Broadcaster and Hypothecation of Taxes

Tax payers have grounds to object to a tax on the basis of Article 107(1) TFEU only when the tax is “asymmetrical” or when it is “hypothecated” to an aid measure.   Introduction On 10 November 2016, the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑449/14 P, DTS v European Commission.[1] DTS, a Spanish television company, appealed against the judgment of the General […]

Ever wondered how Lexxion Seminars are like? Read this Summary of „State Aid in Tax Measures“

Lexxion Seminar
The following is a summary of the main points that were presented and the issues that were discussed in the seminar on State Aid in Tax Measures that was held by Lexxion in Brussels on 7-8 November 2016. The summary has been prepared for information purposes only and it is not meant to be a precise record of the proceedings […]

Article 263(4) TFEU: Third Party Challenges to State Aid Decisions

gavel
We are happy to welcome back Prof Erika Szyszczak on the State Aid Blog today. She is Professor of Law and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at University of Sussex and practising barrister and ADR mediator at Littleton Chambers, Temple, London. Today she shares her views on two cases that shed new light on third party rights to […]

Frucona Revisited: Confusing EDF and Placing the Burden of Proof Where it Belongs

computer kayboard
We are happy to welcome Erika Ellyne on the State Aid Blog today. She is a lawyer at Van Bael & Bellis law firm where she works on EU competition law matters. Previously she was a researcher at the VUB University and the LSTS research center, where she is still an affiliate. Today she gives her insights on the Frucona […]

Another Measure that Cannot Be Justified by the Logic of the Tax System

airplanes on the airport
The granting of a tax exception is often found to constitute State aid. But the non-levying of a tax may also fall within the scope of Article 107(1). Competitors have more rights when the Commission does not open the formal investigation procedure.   IntroductionOn 25 November 2014, the Court of Justice, in case T-512/11, Ryanair v European Commission, annulled Commission […]

An Important Project of Common European Interest

Infrastructure projects which are economic in nature are subject to State aid scrutiny regardless of their importance. However, public funding of transport networks which are open to all users does not constitute State aid. Introduction State aid approval of important projects of common European interest is very rare. The joint Commission decisions SA.36558 and SA.38371 [Denmark] and SA.36662 [Sweden] concerning 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 […]

Tax Rulings and State Aid: Now or Never

apple fiat starbucks
This comment looks at the Commission’s decisions to open in-depth investigations into the tax treatment of Apple, Starbucks and Fiat Finance and Trade by Ireland, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.   The European Commission has recently opened three in-depth investigations under Article 108(2) TFEU concerning tax rulings in Ireland, The Netherlands and Luxembourg with regard to the corporate income tax to be paid by Apple, Starbucks […]

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 […]

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 […]

Taxes and Tax Reductions on Air Travel: Selectivity and Compatibility

airplanes on the runway
This posting examines an Irish and a German measure concerning reduction in passenger taxes. As to be expected, an important issue for both measures was whether the reduction was selective or not. The analysis of the Commission does not really break new ground. What is more instructive with these two cases is the range and ingenuity of the arguments advanced […]

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 […]

- tax ×

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 […]

Individually Notified Regional Aid

All individual awards of aid granted to the same project over a three-year period have to be counted together and remain below the maximum allowable aid intensity in relation to the sum of eligible costs. Introduction Hungary operates an aid scheme that offers tax credits to encourage regional investment. The scheme has been implemented on the basis of the GBER […]

The Problem with Turnover Taxes

Economies of scale do not necessarily correlate with ability to pay. Introduction On Thursday, 11 July 2019, France became the first European country to adopt a tax on digital sales. At about the same time, President Donald Trump warned that the US would retaliate with punitive tariffs. The US believes that the tax is aimed at its internet giants such […]

What Happens when Internal Market Rules and State Aid Rules Clash?

A tax refund may not be granted, if it constitutes non-notified State aid.   Introduction   It is a well-established principle that restrictions on internal market rights or freedoms may not be attached to a State aid measure. Indeed, current State aid rules [e.g. GBER, guidelines] explicitly exclude from their scope any aid measure which is inseparably linked to a […]

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 […]

Justification of a Tax Exemption

Prevention of excessive taxation may justify tax exemption. Prevention of abuse may justify limits to the tax exemption.   Introduction   A tax exemption may not constitute state aid if it is justified by reasons which are linked to the nature or general scheme of the tax system. This is what the Court of Justice said on 19 December 2018, […]

Funding of the Spanish Public Broadcaster and Hypothecation of Taxes

Tax payers have grounds to object to a tax on the basis of Article 107(1) TFEU only when the tax is “asymmetrical” or when it is “hypothecated” to an aid measure.   Introduction On 10 November 2016, the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑449/14 P, DTS v European Commission.[1] DTS, a Spanish television company, appealed against the judgment of the General […]

Ever wondered how Lexxion Seminars are like? Read this Summary of „State Aid in Tax Measures“

Lexxion Seminar
The following is a summary of the main points that were presented and the issues that were discussed in the seminar on State Aid in Tax Measures that was held by Lexxion in Brussels on 7-8 November 2016. The summary has been prepared for information purposes only and it is not meant to be a precise record of the proceedings […]

Article 263(4) TFEU: Third Party Challenges to State Aid Decisions

gavel
We are happy to welcome back Prof Erika Szyszczak on the State Aid Blog today. She is Professor of Law and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at University of Sussex and practising barrister and ADR mediator at Littleton Chambers, Temple, London. Today she shares her views on two cases that shed new light on third party rights to […]

Frucona Revisited: Confusing EDF and Placing the Burden of Proof Where it Belongs

computer kayboard
We are happy to welcome Erika Ellyne on the State Aid Blog today. She is a lawyer at Van Bael & Bellis law firm where she works on EU competition law matters. Previously she was a researcher at the VUB University and the LSTS research center, where she is still an affiliate. Today she gives her insights on the Frucona […]

Another Measure that Cannot Be Justified by the Logic of the Tax System

airplanes on the airport
The granting of a tax exception is often found to constitute State aid. But the non-levying of a tax may also fall within the scope of Article 107(1). Competitors have more rights when the Commission does not open the formal investigation procedure.   IntroductionOn 25 November 2014, the Court of Justice, in case T-512/11, Ryanair v European Commission, annulled Commission […]

An Important Project of Common European Interest

Infrastructure projects which are economic in nature are subject to State aid scrutiny regardless of their importance. However, public funding of transport networks which are open to all users does not constitute State aid. Introduction State aid approval of important projects of common European interest is very rare. The joint Commission decisions SA.36558 and SA.38371 [Denmark] and SA.36662 [Sweden] concerning 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 […]

Tax Rulings and State Aid: Now or Never

apple fiat starbucks
This comment looks at the Commission’s decisions to open in-depth investigations into the tax treatment of Apple, Starbucks and Fiat Finance and Trade by Ireland, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.   The European Commission has recently opened three in-depth investigations under Article 108(2) TFEU concerning tax rulings in Ireland, The Netherlands and Luxembourg with regard to the corporate income tax to be paid by Apple, Starbucks […]

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 […]

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 […]

Taxes and Tax Reductions on Air Travel: Selectivity and Compatibility

airplanes on the runway
This posting examines an Irish and a German measure concerning reduction in passenger taxes. As to be expected, an important issue for both measures was whether the reduction was selective or not. The analysis of the Commission does not really break new ground. What is more instructive with these two cases is the range and ingenuity of the arguments advanced […]

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 […]

- tax ×

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 […]

Individually Notified Regional Aid

All individual awards of aid granted to the same project over a three-year period have to be counted together and remain below the maximum allowable aid intensity in relation to the sum of eligible costs. Introduction Hungary operates an aid scheme that offers tax credits to encourage regional investment. The scheme has been implemented on the basis of the GBER […]

The Problem with Turnover Taxes

Economies of scale do not necessarily correlate with ability to pay. Introduction On Thursday, 11 July 2019, France became the first European country to adopt a tax on digital sales. At about the same time, President Donald Trump warned that the US would retaliate with punitive tariffs. The US believes that the tax is aimed at its internet giants such […]

What Happens when Internal Market Rules and State Aid Rules Clash?

A tax refund may not be granted, if it constitutes non-notified State aid.   Introduction   It is a well-established principle that restrictions on internal market rights or freedoms may not be attached to a State aid measure. Indeed, current State aid rules [e.g. GBER, guidelines] explicitly exclude from their scope any aid measure which is inseparably linked to a […]

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 […]

Justification of a Tax Exemption

Prevention of excessive taxation may justify tax exemption. Prevention of abuse may justify limits to the tax exemption.   Introduction   A tax exemption may not constitute state aid if it is justified by reasons which are linked to the nature or general scheme of the tax system. This is what the Court of Justice said on 19 December 2018, […]

Funding of the Spanish Public Broadcaster and Hypothecation of Taxes

Tax payers have grounds to object to a tax on the basis of Article 107(1) TFEU only when the tax is “asymmetrical” or when it is “hypothecated” to an aid measure.   Introduction On 10 November 2016, the Court of Justice ruled in case C‑449/14 P, DTS v European Commission.[1] DTS, a Spanish television company, appealed against the judgment of the General […]

Ever wondered how Lexxion Seminars are like? Read this Summary of „State Aid in Tax Measures“

Lexxion Seminar
The following is a summary of the main points that were presented and the issues that were discussed in the seminar on State Aid in Tax Measures that was held by Lexxion in Brussels on 7-8 November 2016. The summary has been prepared for information purposes only and it is not meant to be a precise record of the proceedings […]

Article 263(4) TFEU: Third Party Challenges to State Aid Decisions

gavel
We are happy to welcome back Prof Erika Szyszczak on the State Aid Blog today. She is Professor of Law and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at University of Sussex and practising barrister and ADR mediator at Littleton Chambers, Temple, London. Today she shares her views on two cases that shed new light on third party rights to […]

Frucona Revisited: Confusing EDF and Placing the Burden of Proof Where it Belongs

computer kayboard
We are happy to welcome Erika Ellyne on the State Aid Blog today. She is a lawyer at Van Bael & Bellis law firm where she works on EU competition law matters. Previously she was a researcher at the VUB University and the LSTS research center, where she is still an affiliate. Today she gives her insights on the Frucona […]

Another Measure that Cannot Be Justified by the Logic of the Tax System

airplanes on the airport
The granting of a tax exception is often found to constitute State aid. But the non-levying of a tax may also fall within the scope of Article 107(1). Competitors have more rights when the Commission does not open the formal investigation procedure.   IntroductionOn 25 November 2014, the Court of Justice, in case T-512/11, Ryanair v European Commission, annulled Commission […]

An Important Project of Common European Interest

Infrastructure projects which are economic in nature are subject to State aid scrutiny regardless of their importance. However, public funding of transport networks which are open to all users does not constitute State aid. Introduction State aid approval of important projects of common European interest is very rare. The joint Commission decisions SA.36558 and SA.38371 [Denmark] and SA.36662 [Sweden] concerning 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 […]

Tax Rulings and State Aid: Now or Never

apple fiat starbucks
This comment looks at the Commission’s decisions to open in-depth investigations into the tax treatment of Apple, Starbucks and Fiat Finance and Trade by Ireland, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.   The European Commission has recently opened three in-depth investigations under Article 108(2) TFEU concerning tax rulings in Ireland, The Netherlands and Luxembourg with regard to the corporate income tax to be paid by Apple, Starbucks […]

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 […]

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 […]

Taxes and Tax Reductions on Air Travel: Selectivity and Compatibility

airplanes on the runway
This posting examines an Irish and a German measure concerning reduction in passenger taxes. As to be expected, an important issue for both measures was whether the reduction was selective or not. The analysis of the Commission does not really break new ground. What is more instructive with these two cases is the range and ingenuity of the arguments advanced […]

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 […]

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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