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!

- Article 108 TFEU ×

National Authorities Must Recover Aid they Grant Mistakenly

Assurances from granting authorities cannot guarantee the legality of State aid. Aid recipients must verify that the aid is granted correctly.   Introduction The Commission must stop its misguided policy of not making public the answers it provides to Member States on questions of interpretation of the General Block Exemption Regulation [GBER]. This is one of the consequences of a […]

Tax Inseparably Linked to State Aid

Taxes which are inseparably linked with an aid measure are assessed together with the aid itself.  An increase of the budget of an aid scheme by more than 20% constitutes a change of existing aid that must be notified to the Commission for prior authorisation.   Introduction Taxpayers may not refuse to pay taxes on the grounds that the tax […]

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

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

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 […]

Advantage through Contracts

A price below the regulated normal price confers an advantage. Competition is distorted even when the aid recipient does not expand its operations.   Introduction An undertaking can obtain an advantage without receiving an outright grant. The advantage may be hidden in a contract for the supply of an essential input at reduced prices. This is the issue tackled by […]

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

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

Existing v New Aid

Any alteration of an existing aid measure can affect the substance of the measure itself. A deviation from the conditions of authorisation may turn existing aid into new aid. Alteration or deviation from the conditions of authorisation that affect the compatibility of an existing aid measure, can result in the granting of new aid. A Member State that alters an […]

Even the Catholic Church Is not Absolved from State Aid Rules: The Essence of Economic Activity – PART II

Purely religious activities and education funded by the state are not economic in nature.   Read the I. part of the article, here. Selective economic advantage The Court proceeded to examine the possible existence of a selective economic advantage. It first recalled, in paragraph 65, that the concept of State aid covers only those public measures which favour certain undertakings “or” […]

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

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

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 […]

Part II: Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Tax Exemptions Authorised by the Council of the EU

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

i) New v Existing State Aid ii) Exemption from VAT and Attribution to Member States iii) The Duty of National Courts to Protect Competitors from Illegal State aid

Aid that pre-exists the entry of a Member State into the EU is “existing” and does not have to be recovered. VAT exemptions authorised by the EU are not State aid. National courts must disregard national legal provisions that prevent them from acting against illegal aid.   Introduction This article examines a variety of issues: when State aid is existing […]

Relief from Pension Contributions and Reduction of Taxes

Compensation for structural disadvantages encumbering undertakings is still State aid. Compensation for structural disadvantages encumbering SGEI providers is not State aid only if it satisfies the Altmark criteria. Reductions of excise duties approved by the Council may still be subject to scrutiny by the Commission under State aid rules. Exception of fossil fuel from energy taxes when it is not […]

Tax Measures with Specific Objectives Can still Be General

A tax measure that applies to certain transactions is not selective if it does not preclude any company or type of asset. Conditions for the application of a tax measure may be justified by the logic of the tax system. The Commission may not use Article 107(3) to assess the compatibility with the internal market of a tax measure that […]

- Article 108 TFEU ×

National Authorities Must Recover Aid they Grant Mistakenly

Assurances from granting authorities cannot guarantee the legality of State aid. Aid recipients must verify that the aid is granted correctly.   Introduction The Commission must stop its misguided policy of not making public the answers it provides to Member States on questions of interpretation of the General Block Exemption Regulation [GBER]. This is one of the consequences of a […]

Tax Inseparably Linked to State Aid

Taxes which are inseparably linked with an aid measure are assessed together with the aid itself.  An increase of the budget of an aid scheme by more than 20% constitutes a change of existing aid that must be notified to the Commission for prior authorisation.   Introduction Taxpayers may not refuse to pay taxes on the grounds that the tax […]

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

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

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 […]

Advantage through Contracts

A price below the regulated normal price confers an advantage. Competition is distorted even when the aid recipient does not expand its operations.   Introduction An undertaking can obtain an advantage without receiving an outright grant. The advantage may be hidden in a contract for the supply of an essential input at reduced prices. This is the issue tackled by […]

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

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

Existing v New Aid

Any alteration of an existing aid measure can affect the substance of the measure itself. A deviation from the conditions of authorisation may turn existing aid into new aid. Alteration or deviation from the conditions of authorisation that affect the compatibility of an existing aid measure, can result in the granting of new aid. A Member State that alters an […]

Even the Catholic Church Is not Absolved from State Aid Rules: The Essence of Economic Activity – PART II

Purely religious activities and education funded by the state are not economic in nature.   Read the I. part of the article, here. Selective economic advantage The Court proceeded to examine the possible existence of a selective economic advantage. It first recalled, in paragraph 65, that the concept of State aid covers only those public measures which favour certain undertakings “or” […]

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

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

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 […]

Part II: Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Tax Exemptions Authorised by the Council of the EU

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

i) New v Existing State Aid ii) Exemption from VAT and Attribution to Member States iii) The Duty of National Courts to Protect Competitors from Illegal State aid

Aid that pre-exists the entry of a Member State into the EU is “existing” and does not have to be recovered. VAT exemptions authorised by the EU are not State aid. National courts must disregard national legal provisions that prevent them from acting against illegal aid.   Introduction This article examines a variety of issues: when State aid is existing […]

Relief from Pension Contributions and Reduction of Taxes

Compensation for structural disadvantages encumbering undertakings is still State aid. Compensation for structural disadvantages encumbering SGEI providers is not State aid only if it satisfies the Altmark criteria. Reductions of excise duties approved by the Council may still be subject to scrutiny by the Commission under State aid rules. Exception of fossil fuel from energy taxes when it is not […]

Tax Measures with Specific Objectives Can still Be General

A tax measure that applies to certain transactions is not selective if it does not preclude any company or type of asset. Conditions for the application of a tax measure may be justified by the logic of the tax system. The Commission may not use Article 107(3) to assess the compatibility with the internal market of a tax measure that […]

- Article 108 TFEU ×

National Authorities Must Recover Aid they Grant Mistakenly

Assurances from granting authorities cannot guarantee the legality of State aid. Aid recipients must verify that the aid is granted correctly.   Introduction The Commission must stop its misguided policy of not making public the answers it provides to Member States on questions of interpretation of the General Block Exemption Regulation [GBER]. This is one of the consequences of a […]

Tax Inseparably Linked to State Aid

Taxes which are inseparably linked with an aid measure are assessed together with the aid itself.  An increase of the budget of an aid scheme by more than 20% constitutes a change of existing aid that must be notified to the Commission for prior authorisation.   Introduction Taxpayers may not refuse to pay taxes on the grounds that the tax […]

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

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

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 […]

Advantage through Contracts

A price below the regulated normal price confers an advantage. Competition is distorted even when the aid recipient does not expand its operations.   Introduction An undertaking can obtain an advantage without receiving an outright grant. The advantage may be hidden in a contract for the supply of an essential input at reduced prices. This is the issue tackled by […]

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

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

Existing v New Aid

Any alteration of an existing aid measure can affect the substance of the measure itself. A deviation from the conditions of authorisation may turn existing aid into new aid. Alteration or deviation from the conditions of authorisation that affect the compatibility of an existing aid measure, can result in the granting of new aid. A Member State that alters an […]

Even the Catholic Church Is not Absolved from State Aid Rules: The Essence of Economic Activity – PART II

Purely religious activities and education funded by the state are not economic in nature.   Read the I. part of the article, here. Selective economic advantage The Court proceeded to examine the possible existence of a selective economic advantage. It first recalled, in paragraph 65, that the concept of State aid covers only those public measures which favour certain undertakings “or” […]

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

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

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 […]

Part II: Developments on the Concepts of Advantage and Selectivity

The advantage conferred by State aid is not necessarily equivalent to the economic benefit that is eventually enjoyed by aid recipients. Incompatible State aid has to be repaid regardless of whether it is passed on to the customers of the aid recipients. Undertakings derive an advantage when state intervention reduces the costs they would bear under “normal market conditions” whereby […]

Tax Exemptions Authorised by the Council of the EU

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

i) New v Existing State Aid ii) Exemption from VAT and Attribution to Member States iii) The Duty of National Courts to Protect Competitors from Illegal State aid

Aid that pre-exists the entry of a Member State into the EU is “existing” and does not have to be recovered. VAT exemptions authorised by the EU are not State aid. National courts must disregard national legal provisions that prevent them from acting against illegal aid.   Introduction This article examines a variety of issues: when State aid is existing […]

Relief from Pension Contributions and Reduction of Taxes

Compensation for structural disadvantages encumbering undertakings is still State aid. Compensation for structural disadvantages encumbering SGEI providers is not State aid only if it satisfies the Altmark criteria. Reductions of excise duties approved by the Council may still be subject to scrutiny by the Commission under State aid rules. Exception of fossil fuel from energy taxes when it is not […]

Tax Measures with Specific Objectives Can still Be General

A tax measure that applies to certain transactions is not selective if it does not preclude any company or type of asset. Conditions for the application of a tax measure may be justified by the logic of the tax system. The Commission may not use Article 107(3) to assess the compatibility with the internal market of a tax measure that […]

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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