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!

- internal market ×

The Commission’s White Paper on Foreign Subsidies: A Real Problem that Needs Sharper Tools

coins on banknotes
The European Commission proposes new instruments to counter unfair foreign subsidies and acquisition of European companies. Temporary Framework: Number of approved Covid-19 measures, as of 20 June 2020: 164* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 14; Article 107(3)(b): 137; Article 107(3)(c): 15 Fifteen measures support R&D, testing or production of Covid-19 related products. Three measures support recapitalisation. The Member States with the […]

Risk Finance

Risk finance measures for the support for large enterprises or SMEs which operate for longer than seven years fall outside the GBER and must be notified individually to the Commission. Introduction Since the State aid modernisation and the new rules that were introduced in 2014, only a handful of risk finance measures [7-8?] have been notified to the European Commission […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Compatibility of State Aid with the Internal Market: Lessons from “Hinkley Point C” – Part III

The objective of common interest that should be supported by State aid does not have to be an objective agreed by all Member States.   Environmental protection Austria argued that the Commission had ignored the potential negative effects of the aid on the environment such as the storing of nuclear waste. The reply of the Court was that “(516) in […]

The Compatibility of State Aid with the Internal Market: Lessons from “Hinkley Point C” – Part II

The objective of common interest that should be supported by state aid does not have to be an objective agreed by all Member States.   Existence of market failure and need for aid Austria and Luxembourg claimed that the intervention by the UK was not necessary and that there was no evidence that the liberalised market for the generation and […]

State Aid for the Deployment of Broadband Networks

Most State aid for the development of broadband networks is approved by the Commission. But the aid must be limited only to areas where market-based investments are unlikely to be made without aid.   Introduction   This article reviews a recent Commission decision authorising State aid for broadband development in the Netherlands which is one of the most networked countries […]

The Legal Basis of the (In)compatibility of Aid Must be Clear

The European Commission may withdraw a decision, but before it adopts a new decision it must give an opportunity to interested parties to submit their comments, especially, if it changes the legal basis of the assessment of the compatibility of the aid.   Introduction The most frequent reasons for which the Commission finds aid to be incompatible with the internal […]

State Aid Is Not Compatible With the Internal Market when it Contravenes other EU Rules

Relief from a penalty imposed by EU rules is State aid that is incompatible with the internal market.   Introduction EU rules contain a standard exclusion: State aid cannot be declared compatible with the internal market when it is non-severable [i.e. cannot be separated] from a violation of EU law. Yet, cases involving non-severable violations of EU law are rare. […]

Transfer of State Assets between State-Owned Companies

Transfers of public assets for the purpose of extinguishing debt have to be valued according to private creditor principle. Transfers of public assets that involve State aid must be notified to the Commission.   Introduction Sale or transfer of state assets is a tricky process. A possible undervaluation of the assets results in State aid for the benefit of the […]

Turnover Taxes Can be Incompatible with the Internal Market

Progressive taxes levied on turnover can provide State aid that is incompatible with the internal market. Flat turnover taxes are proportional and therefore likely to be free of State aid.   Introduction Hungary wanted to levy two types of turnover taxes whose purpose was to protect health. The first tax was levied on tobacco products.[1] The Commission found, in decision 2016/1846, […]

Who is Aided when a Bank is Resolved?

Bank resolution may involve State aid. However, the depositors do not normally benefit from State aid, nor do the buyers of the viable assets, if they pay a market price. Any aid normally goes to the remaining, non-performing, assets that are eventually liquidated.   Introduction The new bank resolution regime that came into force on 1 January 2016 aims to […]

Is there an Advantage when the State Pays for Compulsory Milk Tests?

Undertakings obtain an advantage when the state pays for their normal costs. Normal costs are costs which are inherent in the operations of undertakings. The costs of meeting legal obligations are normal.   Introduction The case law on advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU says that aid confers an advantage to undertakings when they obtain a benefit that […]

PART II: Green Electricity and Reduction of Energy Taxes for Energy-Intensive Users

Part II: Support of electricity production from renewable energy sources is normally compatible with the internal market. Reduction of taxes on electricity used by energy-intensive industries is allowed only for certain sectors exposed to international trade and only when they bear a certain cost. Taxes on imported electricity normally infringe free-trade and non-discrimination provisions, unless commensurate benefits are extended to […]

Failure to Satisfy Ex Post the Altmark Criteria, but Compliance with the 2014 Aviation Guidelines

Public service obligations must be entrusted by an official act and defined with sufficient precision. Imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to identify the costs which are caused by such obligations. Consequently, imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to grant compensation because subsidisation of non-eligible costs cannot be excluded. Compensation may not be granted […]

- internal market ×

The Commission’s White Paper on Foreign Subsidies: A Real Problem that Needs Sharper Tools

coins on banknotes
The European Commission proposes new instruments to counter unfair foreign subsidies and acquisition of European companies. Temporary Framework: Number of approved Covid-19 measures, as of 20 June 2020: 164* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 14; Article 107(3)(b): 137; Article 107(3)(c): 15 Fifteen measures support R&D, testing or production of Covid-19 related products. Three measures support recapitalisation. The Member States with the […]

Risk Finance

Risk finance measures for the support for large enterprises or SMEs which operate for longer than seven years fall outside the GBER and must be notified individually to the Commission. Introduction Since the State aid modernisation and the new rules that were introduced in 2014, only a handful of risk finance measures [7-8?] have been notified to the European Commission […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Compatibility of State Aid with the Internal Market: Lessons from “Hinkley Point C” – Part III

The objective of common interest that should be supported by State aid does not have to be an objective agreed by all Member States.   Environmental protection Austria argued that the Commission had ignored the potential negative effects of the aid on the environment such as the storing of nuclear waste. The reply of the Court was that “(516) in […]

The Compatibility of State Aid with the Internal Market: Lessons from “Hinkley Point C” – Part II

The objective of common interest that should be supported by state aid does not have to be an objective agreed by all Member States.   Existence of market failure and need for aid Austria and Luxembourg claimed that the intervention by the UK was not necessary and that there was no evidence that the liberalised market for the generation and […]

State Aid for the Deployment of Broadband Networks

Most State aid for the development of broadband networks is approved by the Commission. But the aid must be limited only to areas where market-based investments are unlikely to be made without aid.   Introduction   This article reviews a recent Commission decision authorising State aid for broadband development in the Netherlands which is one of the most networked countries […]

The Legal Basis of the (In)compatibility of Aid Must be Clear

The European Commission may withdraw a decision, but before it adopts a new decision it must give an opportunity to interested parties to submit their comments, especially, if it changes the legal basis of the assessment of the compatibility of the aid.   Introduction The most frequent reasons for which the Commission finds aid to be incompatible with the internal […]

State Aid Is Not Compatible With the Internal Market when it Contravenes other EU Rules

Relief from a penalty imposed by EU rules is State aid that is incompatible with the internal market.   Introduction EU rules contain a standard exclusion: State aid cannot be declared compatible with the internal market when it is non-severable [i.e. cannot be separated] from a violation of EU law. Yet, cases involving non-severable violations of EU law are rare. […]

Transfer of State Assets between State-Owned Companies

Transfers of public assets for the purpose of extinguishing debt have to be valued according to private creditor principle. Transfers of public assets that involve State aid must be notified to the Commission.   Introduction Sale or transfer of state assets is a tricky process. A possible undervaluation of the assets results in State aid for the benefit of the […]

Turnover Taxes Can be Incompatible with the Internal Market

Progressive taxes levied on turnover can provide State aid that is incompatible with the internal market. Flat turnover taxes are proportional and therefore likely to be free of State aid.   Introduction Hungary wanted to levy two types of turnover taxes whose purpose was to protect health. The first tax was levied on tobacco products.[1] The Commission found, in decision 2016/1846, […]

Who is Aided when a Bank is Resolved?

Bank resolution may involve State aid. However, the depositors do not normally benefit from State aid, nor do the buyers of the viable assets, if they pay a market price. Any aid normally goes to the remaining, non-performing, assets that are eventually liquidated.   Introduction The new bank resolution regime that came into force on 1 January 2016 aims to […]

Is there an Advantage when the State Pays for Compulsory Milk Tests?

Undertakings obtain an advantage when the state pays for their normal costs. Normal costs are costs which are inherent in the operations of undertakings. The costs of meeting legal obligations are normal.   Introduction The case law on advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU says that aid confers an advantage to undertakings when they obtain a benefit that […]

PART II: Green Electricity and Reduction of Energy Taxes for Energy-Intensive Users

Part II: Support of electricity production from renewable energy sources is normally compatible with the internal market. Reduction of taxes on electricity used by energy-intensive industries is allowed only for certain sectors exposed to international trade and only when they bear a certain cost. Taxes on imported electricity normally infringe free-trade and non-discrimination provisions, unless commensurate benefits are extended to […]

Failure to Satisfy Ex Post the Altmark Criteria, but Compliance with the 2014 Aviation Guidelines

Public service obligations must be entrusted by an official act and defined with sufficient precision. Imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to identify the costs which are caused by such obligations. Consequently, imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to grant compensation because subsidisation of non-eligible costs cannot be excluded. Compensation may not be granted […]

- internal market ×

The Commission’s White Paper on Foreign Subsidies: A Real Problem that Needs Sharper Tools

coins on banknotes
The European Commission proposes new instruments to counter unfair foreign subsidies and acquisition of European companies. Temporary Framework: Number of approved Covid-19 measures, as of 20 June 2020: 164* Legal basis: Article 107(2)(b): 14; Article 107(3)(b): 137; Article 107(3)(c): 15 Fifteen measures support R&D, testing or production of Covid-19 related products. Three measures support recapitalisation. The Member States with the […]

Risk Finance

Risk finance measures for the support for large enterprises or SMEs which operate for longer than seven years fall outside the GBER and must be notified individually to the Commission. Introduction Since the State aid modernisation and the new rules that were introduced in 2014, only a handful of risk finance measures [7-8?] have been notified to the European Commission […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Compatibility of State Aid with the Internal Market: Lessons from “Hinkley Point C” – Part III

The objective of common interest that should be supported by State aid does not have to be an objective agreed by all Member States.   Environmental protection Austria argued that the Commission had ignored the potential negative effects of the aid on the environment such as the storing of nuclear waste. The reply of the Court was that “(516) in […]

The Compatibility of State Aid with the Internal Market: Lessons from “Hinkley Point C” – Part II

The objective of common interest that should be supported by state aid does not have to be an objective agreed by all Member States.   Existence of market failure and need for aid Austria and Luxembourg claimed that the intervention by the UK was not necessary and that there was no evidence that the liberalised market for the generation and […]

State Aid for the Deployment of Broadband Networks

Most State aid for the development of broadband networks is approved by the Commission. But the aid must be limited only to areas where market-based investments are unlikely to be made without aid.   Introduction   This article reviews a recent Commission decision authorising State aid for broadband development in the Netherlands which is one of the most networked countries […]

The Legal Basis of the (In)compatibility of Aid Must be Clear

The European Commission may withdraw a decision, but before it adopts a new decision it must give an opportunity to interested parties to submit their comments, especially, if it changes the legal basis of the assessment of the compatibility of the aid.   Introduction The most frequent reasons for which the Commission finds aid to be incompatible with the internal […]

State Aid Is Not Compatible With the Internal Market when it Contravenes other EU Rules

Relief from a penalty imposed by EU rules is State aid that is incompatible with the internal market.   Introduction EU rules contain a standard exclusion: State aid cannot be declared compatible with the internal market when it is non-severable [i.e. cannot be separated] from a violation of EU law. Yet, cases involving non-severable violations of EU law are rare. […]

Transfer of State Assets between State-Owned Companies

Transfers of public assets for the purpose of extinguishing debt have to be valued according to private creditor principle. Transfers of public assets that involve State aid must be notified to the Commission.   Introduction Sale or transfer of state assets is a tricky process. A possible undervaluation of the assets results in State aid for the benefit of the […]

Turnover Taxes Can be Incompatible with the Internal Market

Progressive taxes levied on turnover can provide State aid that is incompatible with the internal market. Flat turnover taxes are proportional and therefore likely to be free of State aid.   Introduction Hungary wanted to levy two types of turnover taxes whose purpose was to protect health. The first tax was levied on tobacco products.[1] The Commission found, in decision 2016/1846, […]

Who is Aided when a Bank is Resolved?

Bank resolution may involve State aid. However, the depositors do not normally benefit from State aid, nor do the buyers of the viable assets, if they pay a market price. Any aid normally goes to the remaining, non-performing, assets that are eventually liquidated.   Introduction The new bank resolution regime that came into force on 1 January 2016 aims to […]

Is there an Advantage when the State Pays for Compulsory Milk Tests?

Undertakings obtain an advantage when the state pays for their normal costs. Normal costs are costs which are inherent in the operations of undertakings. The costs of meeting legal obligations are normal.   Introduction The case law on advantage in the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU says that aid confers an advantage to undertakings when they obtain a benefit that […]

PART II: Green Electricity and Reduction of Energy Taxes for Energy-Intensive Users

Part II: Support of electricity production from renewable energy sources is normally compatible with the internal market. Reduction of taxes on electricity used by energy-intensive industries is allowed only for certain sectors exposed to international trade and only when they bear a certain cost. Taxes on imported electricity normally infringe free-trade and non-discrimination provisions, unless commensurate benefits are extended to […]

Failure to Satisfy Ex Post the Altmark Criteria, but Compliance with the 2014 Aviation Guidelines

Public service obligations must be entrusted by an official act and defined with sufficient precision. Imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to identify the costs which are caused by such obligations. Consequently, imprecise definition of public service obligations makes it impossible to grant compensation because subsidisation of non-eligible costs cannot be excluded. Compensation may not be granted […]

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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