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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- tax system ×

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 […]

The Operator of an Economic Infrastructure is an Undertaking

The assignment of public service tasks to an infrastructure operator is not sufficient to prevent the application of State aid rules. Introduction The characterisation of an entity as an undertaking is activity based, not status based. If it carries out activities for which there is a market, it becomes an undertaking, regardless of providing services which are in the general […]

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 […]

The Challenge of Identifying the Reference Tax System: The Spanish Goodwill Case, Again

To determine whether an aid measure is selective, the treatment of the beneficiaries has to be compared to those undertakings which are in a comparable position.   Introduction   On 15 November 2018, the General Court ruled in case T-239/11, Sigma Alimentos Exterior v European Commission.1 Sigma Alimentos Exterior (SAE), a Spanish company, appealed against Commission decision 2011/282 which found that […]

The Definition of the Reference Tax System is still a Puzzle

A selective measure should be determined on the basis of its effects, not on the basis of the legally defined regulatory techniques.   Introduction A tax measure is selective in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU when it basically deviates from the normal tax system. In the case of a tax reduction or a tax exemption the normal system is […]

Exemptions from Product-Specific Taxes

Tax exemptions do not constitute State aid when they aim to induce change in the behaviour of consumers, when they distinguish between harmful products and non-harmful products and for reasons of administrative simplicity.   Introduction   In the past two weeks, an article was published in two parts criticising the judgments of the Court of Justice in three cases of […]

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

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 […]

Hungarian Advertisement Tax, Polish Retail Tax and Estonia Package Tax

Progressive taxes can constitute State aid. Exemption from a packaging tax of packaged goods which are taken abroad is within the logic of the tax system.   Introduction This article reviews three tax measures which levied taxes on specific activities and products. In particular, they concern taxes on advertising, retail sales and an exemption from a tax on product packaging. […]

Belgium’s Alternative Tax Regime for the Diamond Sector

Alternative tax regimes do not provide State aid as long as they raise the amount of tax paid and they are justified by the nature or general scheme of the normal system of taxation.   Introduction During the past three years, the Commission has been pursuing multinational companies that pay too little tax. Its main objection to the tax treatment […]

How to Determine the Selectivity of a Tax Measure

A tax exception is normally a selective measure. However, exceptions which are open to all undertakings are not selective, even if they deviate from the standard tax rate or base. Exceptions which are open only to a few undertakings escape from being classified as selective only when the beneficiary undertakings are in a different legal or factual situation than non-beneficiaries. […]

- tax system ×

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 […]

The Operator of an Economic Infrastructure is an Undertaking

The assignment of public service tasks to an infrastructure operator is not sufficient to prevent the application of State aid rules. Introduction The characterisation of an entity as an undertaking is activity based, not status based. If it carries out activities for which there is a market, it becomes an undertaking, regardless of providing services which are in the general […]

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 […]

The Challenge of Identifying the Reference Tax System: The Spanish Goodwill Case, Again

To determine whether an aid measure is selective, the treatment of the beneficiaries has to be compared to those undertakings which are in a comparable position.   Introduction   On 15 November 2018, the General Court ruled in case T-239/11, Sigma Alimentos Exterior v European Commission.1 Sigma Alimentos Exterior (SAE), a Spanish company, appealed against Commission decision 2011/282 which found that […]

The Definition of the Reference Tax System is still a Puzzle

A selective measure should be determined on the basis of its effects, not on the basis of the legally defined regulatory techniques.   Introduction A tax measure is selective in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU when it basically deviates from the normal tax system. In the case of a tax reduction or a tax exemption the normal system is […]

Exemptions from Product-Specific Taxes

Tax exemptions do not constitute State aid when they aim to induce change in the behaviour of consumers, when they distinguish between harmful products and non-harmful products and for reasons of administrative simplicity.   Introduction   In the past two weeks, an article was published in two parts criticising the judgments of the Court of Justice in three cases of […]

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

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 […]

Hungarian Advertisement Tax, Polish Retail Tax and Estonia Package Tax

Progressive taxes can constitute State aid. Exemption from a packaging tax of packaged goods which are taken abroad is within the logic of the tax system.   Introduction This article reviews three tax measures which levied taxes on specific activities and products. In particular, they concern taxes on advertising, retail sales and an exemption from a tax on product packaging. […]

Belgium’s Alternative Tax Regime for the Diamond Sector

Alternative tax regimes do not provide State aid as long as they raise the amount of tax paid and they are justified by the nature or general scheme of the normal system of taxation.   Introduction During the past three years, the Commission has been pursuing multinational companies that pay too little tax. Its main objection to the tax treatment […]

How to Determine the Selectivity of a Tax Measure

A tax exception is normally a selective measure. However, exceptions which are open to all undertakings are not selective, even if they deviate from the standard tax rate or base. Exceptions which are open only to a few undertakings escape from being classified as selective only when the beneficiary undertakings are in a different legal or factual situation than non-beneficiaries. […]

- tax system ×

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 […]

The Operator of an Economic Infrastructure is an Undertaking

The assignment of public service tasks to an infrastructure operator is not sufficient to prevent the application of State aid rules. Introduction The characterisation of an entity as an undertaking is activity based, not status based. If it carries out activities for which there is a market, it becomes an undertaking, regardless of providing services which are in the general […]

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 […]

The Challenge of Identifying the Reference Tax System: The Spanish Goodwill Case, Again

To determine whether an aid measure is selective, the treatment of the beneficiaries has to be compared to those undertakings which are in a comparable position.   Introduction   On 15 November 2018, the General Court ruled in case T-239/11, Sigma Alimentos Exterior v European Commission.1 Sigma Alimentos Exterior (SAE), a Spanish company, appealed against Commission decision 2011/282 which found that […]

The Definition of the Reference Tax System is still a Puzzle

A selective measure should be determined on the basis of its effects, not on the basis of the legally defined regulatory techniques.   Introduction A tax measure is selective in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU when it basically deviates from the normal tax system. In the case of a tax reduction or a tax exemption the normal system is […]

Exemptions from Product-Specific Taxes

Tax exemptions do not constitute State aid when they aim to induce change in the behaviour of consumers, when they distinguish between harmful products and non-harmful products and for reasons of administrative simplicity.   Introduction   In the past two weeks, an article was published in two parts criticising the judgments of the Court of Justice in three cases of […]

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

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 […]

Hungarian Advertisement Tax, Polish Retail Tax and Estonia Package Tax

Progressive taxes can constitute State aid. Exemption from a packaging tax of packaged goods which are taken abroad is within the logic of the tax system.   Introduction This article reviews three tax measures which levied taxes on specific activities and products. In particular, they concern taxes on advertising, retail sales and an exemption from a tax on product packaging. […]

Belgium’s Alternative Tax Regime for the Diamond Sector

Alternative tax regimes do not provide State aid as long as they raise the amount of tax paid and they are justified by the nature or general scheme of the normal system of taxation.   Introduction During the past three years, the Commission has been pursuing multinational companies that pay too little tax. Its main objection to the tax treatment […]

How to Determine the Selectivity of a Tax Measure

A tax exception is normally a selective measure. However, exceptions which are open to all undertakings are not selective, even if they deviate from the standard tax rate or base. Exceptions which are open only to a few undertakings escape from being classified as selective only when the beneficiary undertakings are in a different legal or factual situation than non-beneficiaries. […]

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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