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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- General Court ×

Market Economy Operator Principle: The Case of FIH

Negotiated transactions are not necessarily market conform. Update on Temporary Framework: Number of approved and published covid-19 measures, as of 9 October 2020: 295* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 32; Article 107(3)(b): 248; Article 107(3)(c): 23 – Average number of measures per Member State: 10.5 – Median number of measures per Member State: 12 – Mode number of measures per Member […]

A Preferential Electricity Tariff Is Selective, Confers an Advantage and Distorts Competition

A judicial decision on interim measures is a selective measure. The private investor test does not apply to judicial decisions on interim measures. Introduction On 11 December 2019, in case C‑332/18 P, Mytilinaios Anonymos Etairia — Omilos Epicheiriseon v European Commission, the Court of Justice probably wrote the last chapter in a long-running case concerning privileges that had been granted […]

Separability of Economic from Non-economic Activities

Activities which are inseparable from the exercise of official powers are non-economic. Introduction   Pure research whose results are widely disseminated is undoubtedly a non-economic activity. Research reports are often published on the internet. But the design and management of a research organisation’s website can be an economic activity. Plenty of private companies provide these services for a fee. Does […]

Compensation to a Toll Road Operator

Contractual obligation to provide compensation that does not exceed the loss of income is not State aid. Introduction When is a company entitled to compensation by the state? The easy answer is “when the state is liable for damage”. However, it may be possible for a company to claim compensation from the state when the state has assumed contractual obligations. […]

Production of Green Electricity

Member States may reduce the amount of State aid they grant and companies may not claim they have a right to State aid. Introduction Close to 60% of all aid granted to industry and services in the EU goes to support environmental protection, energy efficiency and the generation of electricity from renewable sources of energy. However, as technology improves, the […]

Is it OK to Tax Company Size?*

Progressive tax rates that are consistent with the objective of the tax system are not necessarily selective. Introduction Member States are free to design their corporate tax systems as long as they do not grant State aid or infringe fundamental internal market freedoms. A question that arises in discussions on what Member States may or may not do when designing […]

I) Unlimited State Guarantees II) Effect on Trade

A competitor who wants to challenge a Commission decision authorising State aid without a formal investigation must, first, show that it is seriously harmed by the aid. Introduction This week’s article reviews two judgments: one on unlimited state guarantees granted by France [case T-135/17, Scor v European Commission][1] and another on aid that was found not to affect trade between Member […]

There Is No Threshold below which Economic Activities Can Be Considered to be Non-economic

Non-economic activities have to be accounted separately from economic activities. The exercise of public tasks assigned by the state cannot protect an undertaking from State aid rules. State aid distorts competition even when it aims to remedy distortions. Introduction Ports, like other transport infrastructures, may operate under public obligations some of which may be of economic and some of non-economic […]

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 […]

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

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

The Boundary between State and Private Resources

Discretion in the form of intervention can remove it from the control of the state.   Introduction Suppose a thug puts a gun to your head and demands your wallet. Because you have sentimental photos in your wallet, you offer instead the keys to your car. You would rather lose the car than the wallet. Can the thug claim in […]

Unconditional and Unlimited Guarantees and their (In)Compatibility with the Internal Market

Operating aid is not normally compatible with the internal market. Therefore, State aid provided through state guarantees should not cover operating costs. State aid embedded in guarantees must be quantifiable so that its necessity and proportionality can be assessed. The assessment of State aid must be made within an EU context taking into account its impact on trade.   Introduction […]

Private Investor v Private Creditor

When the state, acting as a private investor, seeks to recover past public investments, it must aim to maximise the recoverable amount. However, public funds that were granted as State aid must be ignored when the recoverable amount of past investments is calculated.   Introduction On 15 September 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T‑386/14, FIH Holding v […]

Compensation for the Extra Costs Imposed by Law

When the state imposes obligations which create extra costs for a single undertaking, that undertaking suffers a disadvantage in relation to its competitors. The extra costs are abnormal because normal costs are those borne by all competitors. Introduction On 14 July 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T 143/12, Germany v Commission.1 The outcome was a victory for […]

Compatible State Aid May Have Negative Effects on some Market Operators

The existence of market failure is not necessary for aid to be declared compatible under Article 107(3). Market failure does not mean that the market is completely unable to supply a good or service. State aid aiming to remedy market failure may be compatible with the internal market even if it has a negative impact on some market operators.   […]

The Private Creditor Test: All Options Must be Taken into Account

A private investor always takes into account all available information before it makes any investment. Similarly, a private creditor takes into account all available options for recovering the largest possible amount of the money that is due. Such options may include different legal procedures. In assessing alternative options, a private creditor considers not only the amount that may be recovered, […]

Court’s Diary – February 2016

Find below the court’s diary for all State aid cases. Would you like to write a comment on one of them? Please don’t hesitate and get in touch with us (stateaidhub@lexxion.eu), we are happy to publish your comment on the blog   Thursday 04/02/2016 Judgment in Case T-287/11 – Heitkamp BauHolding v Commission (General Court – Ninth Chamber) Judgment in […]

An Exception Is Not Necessarily Selective: The Case of the Spanish Tax Lease [1]

An exception from a tax system is not selective if it is a priori open to any tax payer. Checks by tax authorities to ensure that a measure is applied correctly do not constitute exercise of administrative discretion that may render a measure de facto selective. The impact of a measure on trade and competition cannot be merely presumed just […]

Court’s Diary – December 2015

Find below the court’s diary for all State aid cases. Would you like to write a comment on one of them? Please don’t hesitate and get in touch with us (stateaidhub@lexxion.eu), we are happy to publish your comment on the blog   Thursday 07/12/2015 Judgment in Case T-242/12 – SNCF v Commission (General Court – Seventh Chamber)   Thursday 17/12/2015 Judgment in […]

The Perennial Altmark Questions

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

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 […]

When Do Public Pronouncements Confer an Advantage to Undertakings?

Public pronouncements can confer an advantage if they are sufficiently precise and clearly commit a public authority to support an undertaking.   Introduction[1] Politicians often claim that they would never allow important national companies to go bust. Occasionally, such claims appear to sway market sentiment in favour of those companies. Private investors are heartened by the avowed support of the […]

The Challenge of Calculating a Market Price

The market price of land or buildings can be determined via auction, expert valuation or other appropriate methods.   Introduction On 16 July 2015, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in case C‑39/14, BVVG Bodenverwertungs- und -verwaltungs GmbH [BVVG] v Landkreis Jerichower Land in Germany.[1] The judgment was in response to a request for a preliminary ruling concerning a dispute […]

Application of the MEIP to Transactions between Parent and Subsidiary Companies

The Market Economy Investor Principle also applies to transactions between related companies. A private investor enjoys a margin of discretion in deciding in favour or against an investment. However, despite that margin of discretion, a prudent private investor always carries out an assessment of the potential profitability of the investment before it commits any money.   Introduction When a public […]

i) Environmental Harm Does Not Make State Aid Incompatible with the Internal Market ii) the Market Economy Investor Principle Applied to Monopolies

Security of energy supply can be a service of general economic interest. Avoiding harm to the environment is not one of the principles that underpin the internal market and which may not be violated by State aid measures. Determining whether competition is distorted does not require definition of the relevant markets.   This article examines two apparently different but in […]

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 […]

A Textbook Case of False Arguments: T-150/12, Greece v Commission

court building
Recipients of State aid obtain an advantage even if they do not succeed to improve their position on the market. Recipients of State aid obtain an advantage whenever their competitors in intra-EU trade do not receive the same aid from the same source. Even small amounts of aid can disturb intra-EU trade where there is strong cross-border competition. The European Commission is not […]

New Case Law on Incentive Effect, “Private Borrower”, Advantage, Compensation, SGEI and Market Failure

gavel on a laptop
Introduction   The posting reviews three recent rulings of the General Court. They are significant because they introduce substantial nuances in the case law concerning the concepts of incentive effect, compensation for structural impediment, the designation of an activity as a service of general economic interest (SGEI) and the connection between market failure and SGEI. On the whole, the Court […]

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 […]

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 […]

Loans, Guarantees and Credit Worthiness

contract signing
This post examines the two latest judgments of EU courts on State aid. They do not introduce any novel approaches to the interpretation of Article 107(1) TFEU but they confirm and clarify the obligations of the State in its dealings with undertakings. T-387/11, Nitrogenmuvek Vegyipari v European Commission   On 27 February 2013, the General Court rendered its judgment in […]

- General Court ×

Market Economy Operator Principle: The Case of FIH

Negotiated transactions are not necessarily market conform. Update on Temporary Framework: Number of approved and published covid-19 measures, as of 9 October 2020: 295* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 32; Article 107(3)(b): 248; Article 107(3)(c): 23 – Average number of measures per Member State: 10.5 – Median number of measures per Member State: 12 – Mode number of measures per Member […]

A Preferential Electricity Tariff Is Selective, Confers an Advantage and Distorts Competition

A judicial decision on interim measures is a selective measure. The private investor test does not apply to judicial decisions on interim measures. Introduction On 11 December 2019, in case C‑332/18 P, Mytilinaios Anonymos Etairia — Omilos Epicheiriseon v European Commission, the Court of Justice probably wrote the last chapter in a long-running case concerning privileges that had been granted […]

Separability of Economic from Non-economic Activities

Activities which are inseparable from the exercise of official powers are non-economic. Introduction   Pure research whose results are widely disseminated is undoubtedly a non-economic activity. Research reports are often published on the internet. But the design and management of a research organisation’s website can be an economic activity. Plenty of private companies provide these services for a fee. Does […]

Compensation to a Toll Road Operator

Contractual obligation to provide compensation that does not exceed the loss of income is not State aid. Introduction When is a company entitled to compensation by the state? The easy answer is “when the state is liable for damage”. However, it may be possible for a company to claim compensation from the state when the state has assumed contractual obligations. […]

Production of Green Electricity

Member States may reduce the amount of State aid they grant and companies may not claim they have a right to State aid. Introduction Close to 60% of all aid granted to industry and services in the EU goes to support environmental protection, energy efficiency and the generation of electricity from renewable sources of energy. However, as technology improves, the […]

Is it OK to Tax Company Size?*

Progressive tax rates that are consistent with the objective of the tax system are not necessarily selective. Introduction Member States are free to design their corporate tax systems as long as they do not grant State aid or infringe fundamental internal market freedoms. A question that arises in discussions on what Member States may or may not do when designing […]

I) Unlimited State Guarantees II) Effect on Trade

A competitor who wants to challenge a Commission decision authorising State aid without a formal investigation must, first, show that it is seriously harmed by the aid. Introduction This week’s article reviews two judgments: one on unlimited state guarantees granted by France [case T-135/17, Scor v European Commission][1] and another on aid that was found not to affect trade between Member […]

There Is No Threshold below which Economic Activities Can Be Considered to be Non-economic

Non-economic activities have to be accounted separately from economic activities. The exercise of public tasks assigned by the state cannot protect an undertaking from State aid rules. State aid distorts competition even when it aims to remedy distortions. Introduction Ports, like other transport infrastructures, may operate under public obligations some of which may be of economic and some of non-economic […]

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 […]

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

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

The Boundary between State and Private Resources

Discretion in the form of intervention can remove it from the control of the state.   Introduction Suppose a thug puts a gun to your head and demands your wallet. Because you have sentimental photos in your wallet, you offer instead the keys to your car. You would rather lose the car than the wallet. Can the thug claim in […]

Unconditional and Unlimited Guarantees and their (In)Compatibility with the Internal Market

Operating aid is not normally compatible with the internal market. Therefore, State aid provided through state guarantees should not cover operating costs. State aid embedded in guarantees must be quantifiable so that its necessity and proportionality can be assessed. The assessment of State aid must be made within an EU context taking into account its impact on trade.   Introduction […]

Private Investor v Private Creditor

When the state, acting as a private investor, seeks to recover past public investments, it must aim to maximise the recoverable amount. However, public funds that were granted as State aid must be ignored when the recoverable amount of past investments is calculated.   Introduction On 15 September 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T‑386/14, FIH Holding v […]

Compensation for the Extra Costs Imposed by Law

When the state imposes obligations which create extra costs for a single undertaking, that undertaking suffers a disadvantage in relation to its competitors. The extra costs are abnormal because normal costs are those borne by all competitors. Introduction On 14 July 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T 143/12, Germany v Commission.1 The outcome was a victory for […]

Compatible State Aid May Have Negative Effects on some Market Operators

The existence of market failure is not necessary for aid to be declared compatible under Article 107(3). Market failure does not mean that the market is completely unable to supply a good or service. State aid aiming to remedy market failure may be compatible with the internal market even if it has a negative impact on some market operators.   […]

The Private Creditor Test: All Options Must be Taken into Account

A private investor always takes into account all available information before it makes any investment. Similarly, a private creditor takes into account all available options for recovering the largest possible amount of the money that is due. Such options may include different legal procedures. In assessing alternative options, a private creditor considers not only the amount that may be recovered, […]

Court’s Diary – February 2016

Find below the court’s diary for all State aid cases. Would you like to write a comment on one of them? Please don’t hesitate and get in touch with us (stateaidhub@lexxion.eu), we are happy to publish your comment on the blog   Thursday 04/02/2016 Judgment in Case T-287/11 – Heitkamp BauHolding v Commission (General Court – Ninth Chamber) Judgment in […]

An Exception Is Not Necessarily Selective: The Case of the Spanish Tax Lease [1]

An exception from a tax system is not selective if it is a priori open to any tax payer. Checks by tax authorities to ensure that a measure is applied correctly do not constitute exercise of administrative discretion that may render a measure de facto selective. The impact of a measure on trade and competition cannot be merely presumed just […]

Court’s Diary – December 2015

Find below the court’s diary for all State aid cases. Would you like to write a comment on one of them? Please don’t hesitate and get in touch with us (stateaidhub@lexxion.eu), we are happy to publish your comment on the blog   Thursday 07/12/2015 Judgment in Case T-242/12 – SNCF v Commission (General Court – Seventh Chamber)   Thursday 17/12/2015 Judgment in […]

The Perennial Altmark Questions

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

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 […]

When Do Public Pronouncements Confer an Advantage to Undertakings?

Public pronouncements can confer an advantage if they are sufficiently precise and clearly commit a public authority to support an undertaking.   Introduction[1] Politicians often claim that they would never allow important national companies to go bust. Occasionally, such claims appear to sway market sentiment in favour of those companies. Private investors are heartened by the avowed support of the […]

The Challenge of Calculating a Market Price

The market price of land or buildings can be determined via auction, expert valuation or other appropriate methods.   Introduction On 16 July 2015, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in case C‑39/14, BVVG Bodenverwertungs- und -verwaltungs GmbH [BVVG] v Landkreis Jerichower Land in Germany.[1] The judgment was in response to a request for a preliminary ruling concerning a dispute […]

Application of the MEIP to Transactions between Parent and Subsidiary Companies

The Market Economy Investor Principle also applies to transactions between related companies. A private investor enjoys a margin of discretion in deciding in favour or against an investment. However, despite that margin of discretion, a prudent private investor always carries out an assessment of the potential profitability of the investment before it commits any money.   Introduction When a public […]

i) Environmental Harm Does Not Make State Aid Incompatible with the Internal Market ii) the Market Economy Investor Principle Applied to Monopolies

Security of energy supply can be a service of general economic interest. Avoiding harm to the environment is not one of the principles that underpin the internal market and which may not be violated by State aid measures. Determining whether competition is distorted does not require definition of the relevant markets.   This article examines two apparently different but in […]

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 […]

A Textbook Case of False Arguments: T-150/12, Greece v Commission

court building
Recipients of State aid obtain an advantage even if they do not succeed to improve their position on the market. Recipients of State aid obtain an advantage whenever their competitors in intra-EU trade do not receive the same aid from the same source. Even small amounts of aid can disturb intra-EU trade where there is strong cross-border competition. The European Commission is not […]

New Case Law on Incentive Effect, “Private Borrower”, Advantage, Compensation, SGEI and Market Failure

gavel on a laptop
Introduction   The posting reviews three recent rulings of the General Court. They are significant because they introduce substantial nuances in the case law concerning the concepts of incentive effect, compensation for structural impediment, the designation of an activity as a service of general economic interest (SGEI) and the connection between market failure and SGEI. On the whole, the Court […]

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 […]

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 […]

Loans, Guarantees and Credit Worthiness

contract signing
This post examines the two latest judgments of EU courts on State aid. They do not introduce any novel approaches to the interpretation of Article 107(1) TFEU but they confirm and clarify the obligations of the State in its dealings with undertakings. T-387/11, Nitrogenmuvek Vegyipari v European Commission   On 27 February 2013, the General Court rendered its judgment in […]

- General Court ×

Market Economy Operator Principle: The Case of FIH

Negotiated transactions are not necessarily market conform. Update on Temporary Framework: Number of approved and published covid-19 measures, as of 9 October 2020: 295* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 32; Article 107(3)(b): 248; Article 107(3)(c): 23 – Average number of measures per Member State: 10.5 – Median number of measures per Member State: 12 – Mode number of measures per Member […]

A Preferential Electricity Tariff Is Selective, Confers an Advantage and Distorts Competition

A judicial decision on interim measures is a selective measure. The private investor test does not apply to judicial decisions on interim measures. Introduction On 11 December 2019, in case C‑332/18 P, Mytilinaios Anonymos Etairia — Omilos Epicheiriseon v European Commission, the Court of Justice probably wrote the last chapter in a long-running case concerning privileges that had been granted […]

Separability of Economic from Non-economic Activities

Activities which are inseparable from the exercise of official powers are non-economic. Introduction   Pure research whose results are widely disseminated is undoubtedly a non-economic activity. Research reports are often published on the internet. But the design and management of a research organisation’s website can be an economic activity. Plenty of private companies provide these services for a fee. Does […]

Compensation to a Toll Road Operator

Contractual obligation to provide compensation that does not exceed the loss of income is not State aid. Introduction When is a company entitled to compensation by the state? The easy answer is “when the state is liable for damage”. However, it may be possible for a company to claim compensation from the state when the state has assumed contractual obligations. […]

Production of Green Electricity

Member States may reduce the amount of State aid they grant and companies may not claim they have a right to State aid. Introduction Close to 60% of all aid granted to industry and services in the EU goes to support environmental protection, energy efficiency and the generation of electricity from renewable sources of energy. However, as technology improves, the […]

Is it OK to Tax Company Size?*

Progressive tax rates that are consistent with the objective of the tax system are not necessarily selective. Introduction Member States are free to design their corporate tax systems as long as they do not grant State aid or infringe fundamental internal market freedoms. A question that arises in discussions on what Member States may or may not do when designing […]

I) Unlimited State Guarantees II) Effect on Trade

A competitor who wants to challenge a Commission decision authorising State aid without a formal investigation must, first, show that it is seriously harmed by the aid. Introduction This week’s article reviews two judgments: one on unlimited state guarantees granted by France [case T-135/17, Scor v European Commission][1] and another on aid that was found not to affect trade between Member […]

There Is No Threshold below which Economic Activities Can Be Considered to be Non-economic

Non-economic activities have to be accounted separately from economic activities. The exercise of public tasks assigned by the state cannot protect an undertaking from State aid rules. State aid distorts competition even when it aims to remedy distortions. Introduction Ports, like other transport infrastructures, may operate under public obligations some of which may be of economic and some of non-economic […]

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 […]

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

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

The Boundary between State and Private Resources

Discretion in the form of intervention can remove it from the control of the state.   Introduction Suppose a thug puts a gun to your head and demands your wallet. Because you have sentimental photos in your wallet, you offer instead the keys to your car. You would rather lose the car than the wallet. Can the thug claim in […]

Unconditional and Unlimited Guarantees and their (In)Compatibility with the Internal Market

Operating aid is not normally compatible with the internal market. Therefore, State aid provided through state guarantees should not cover operating costs. State aid embedded in guarantees must be quantifiable so that its necessity and proportionality can be assessed. The assessment of State aid must be made within an EU context taking into account its impact on trade.   Introduction […]

Private Investor v Private Creditor

When the state, acting as a private investor, seeks to recover past public investments, it must aim to maximise the recoverable amount. However, public funds that were granted as State aid must be ignored when the recoverable amount of past investments is calculated.   Introduction On 15 September 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T‑386/14, FIH Holding v […]

Compensation for the Extra Costs Imposed by Law

When the state imposes obligations which create extra costs for a single undertaking, that undertaking suffers a disadvantage in relation to its competitors. The extra costs are abnormal because normal costs are those borne by all competitors. Introduction On 14 July 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T 143/12, Germany v Commission.1 The outcome was a victory for […]

Compatible State Aid May Have Negative Effects on some Market Operators

The existence of market failure is not necessary for aid to be declared compatible under Article 107(3). Market failure does not mean that the market is completely unable to supply a good or service. State aid aiming to remedy market failure may be compatible with the internal market even if it has a negative impact on some market operators.   […]

The Private Creditor Test: All Options Must be Taken into Account

A private investor always takes into account all available information before it makes any investment. Similarly, a private creditor takes into account all available options for recovering the largest possible amount of the money that is due. Such options may include different legal procedures. In assessing alternative options, a private creditor considers not only the amount that may be recovered, […]

Court’s Diary – February 2016

Find below the court’s diary for all State aid cases. Would you like to write a comment on one of them? Please don’t hesitate and get in touch with us (stateaidhub@lexxion.eu), we are happy to publish your comment on the blog   Thursday 04/02/2016 Judgment in Case T-287/11 – Heitkamp BauHolding v Commission (General Court – Ninth Chamber) Judgment in […]

An Exception Is Not Necessarily Selective: The Case of the Spanish Tax Lease [1]

An exception from a tax system is not selective if it is a priori open to any tax payer. Checks by tax authorities to ensure that a measure is applied correctly do not constitute exercise of administrative discretion that may render a measure de facto selective. The impact of a measure on trade and competition cannot be merely presumed just […]

Court’s Diary – December 2015

Find below the court’s diary for all State aid cases. Would you like to write a comment on one of them? Please don’t hesitate and get in touch with us (stateaidhub@lexxion.eu), we are happy to publish your comment on the blog   Thursday 07/12/2015 Judgment in Case T-242/12 – SNCF v Commission (General Court – Seventh Chamber)   Thursday 17/12/2015 Judgment in […]

The Perennial Altmark Questions

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

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 […]

When Do Public Pronouncements Confer an Advantage to Undertakings?

Public pronouncements can confer an advantage if they are sufficiently precise and clearly commit a public authority to support an undertaking.   Introduction[1] Politicians often claim that they would never allow important national companies to go bust. Occasionally, such claims appear to sway market sentiment in favour of those companies. Private investors are heartened by the avowed support of the […]

The Challenge of Calculating a Market Price

The market price of land or buildings can be determined via auction, expert valuation or other appropriate methods.   Introduction On 16 July 2015, the Court of Justice delivered its judgment in case C‑39/14, BVVG Bodenverwertungs- und -verwaltungs GmbH [BVVG] v Landkreis Jerichower Land in Germany.[1] The judgment was in response to a request for a preliminary ruling concerning a dispute […]

Application of the MEIP to Transactions between Parent and Subsidiary Companies

The Market Economy Investor Principle also applies to transactions between related companies. A private investor enjoys a margin of discretion in deciding in favour or against an investment. However, despite that margin of discretion, a prudent private investor always carries out an assessment of the potential profitability of the investment before it commits any money.   Introduction When a public […]

i) Environmental Harm Does Not Make State Aid Incompatible with the Internal Market ii) the Market Economy Investor Principle Applied to Monopolies

Security of energy supply can be a service of general economic interest. Avoiding harm to the environment is not one of the principles that underpin the internal market and which may not be violated by State aid measures. Determining whether competition is distorted does not require definition of the relevant markets.   This article examines two apparently different but in […]

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 […]

A Textbook Case of False Arguments: T-150/12, Greece v Commission

court building
Recipients of State aid obtain an advantage even if they do not succeed to improve their position on the market. Recipients of State aid obtain an advantage whenever their competitors in intra-EU trade do not receive the same aid from the same source. Even small amounts of aid can disturb intra-EU trade where there is strong cross-border competition. The European Commission is not […]

New Case Law on Incentive Effect, “Private Borrower”, Advantage, Compensation, SGEI and Market Failure

gavel on a laptop
Introduction   The posting reviews three recent rulings of the General Court. They are significant because they introduce substantial nuances in the case law concerning the concepts of incentive effect, compensation for structural impediment, the designation of an activity as a service of general economic interest (SGEI) and the connection between market failure and SGEI. On the whole, the Court […]

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 […]

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 […]

Loans, Guarantees and Credit Worthiness

contract signing
This post examines the two latest judgments of EU courts on State aid. They do not introduce any novel approaches to the interpretation of Article 107(1) TFEU but they confirm and clarify the obligations of the State in its dealings with undertakings. T-387/11, Nitrogenmuvek Vegyipari v European Commission   On 27 February 2013, the General Court rendered its judgment 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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