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!

- The Court of Justice ×

The Recovery of Incompatible Aid Cannot be Absolutely Impossible Unless it is first Attempted

Introduction In its ruling of 6 November 2018 in cases C‑622/16 P to C‑624/16 P, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission, the Court of Justice made it harder for Member States to escape from their recovery obligations.[1] Montessori appealed against the judgment of the General Court in case T‑220/13, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission. That judgment was reviewed here on […]

Legal Standing of Investors in Failed Banks

Investors that lodge claims before national courts for damages from resolution of banks have legal standing to request annulment of Commission decisions authorising State aid to those banks. Introduction It is now ten years since the start of the financial crisis. In these ten years, the Commission has adopted about 500 decisions dealing with State aid to banks and other […]

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 […]

Public Service Obligations Must be Properly Defined and Selectivity Must be Proven [1]

Neither the existence of market failure, nor national laws that designate a service to be in the general interest can replace an official act that assigns to one or more undertakings clearly defined public service obligations.   Introduction The proper definition of public service obligations (PSOs) is an issue that arises with surprising regularity. It is surprising because numerous court […]

Unlimited State Guarantees

Unlimited state guarantees create a presumption that the recipient of the guarantee obtains an advantage in the form of cheaper credit. Any advantage in the form of lower risk in transactions with suppliers or clients has to be proven.   Introduction State guarantees must be limited in time and amount and may cover only a specified event. Unlimited and general […]

Selectivity Can Exist at Different Levels: The Case of the Spanish Tax Lease System

transport ship
A tax measure may be selective in relation to both intermediate and final beneficiaries.  An undertaking may enjoy a selective advantage even if it passes all tax benefits to other parties.   Introduction A measure that is not selective at one level may be selective at another level and a measure that is selective at one level can also be […]

The Compatibility of State Aid Depends on the Rules which are Applicable at the Time the Aid is Granted

Failure to comply with just a single provision of an exemption regulation results in the non-applicability of the whole regulation and makes any implemented aid measure automatically illegal. The compatibility of aid measures adopted in the past but continuing having effects are assessed not on the basis of old rules but on the basis of the rules which are applicable […]

The Extent of the Discretion of Member States to Define Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI)

A service is classified as an SGEI not only when it is important for citizens but also when the market does not adequately supply it and one or more undertakings are compelled to provide it to specified consumers, in specified areas and on specified terms.   Introduction   The Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and the case law […]

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 […]

State Resources and Imputability

When the state acts in its capacity as legislator it is not presumed to direct the resources of undertakings it owns and over which it can exercise dominant influence as a shareholder. Introduction On 13 September 2017, the Court of Justice replied to a request from a national court to advise it on the concept of state resources [case C‑329/15, […]

Odysseus and the Sirens: A Rational Market Operator Can Agree to be Bound by the Ruling of an Arbitration Tribunal

A rational market operator can agree to arbitration if there is no reasonable prospect of a better outcome. However, a rational operator would ensure that the terms according to which an arbitration decision can be taken would be defined in advance and would not be prejudicial to the operator.   Introduction Is it rational for a market operator to agree […]

Sale, Liquidation and Other Options for Private Investors

A private investor chooses the less costly option between selling a company at a loss and liquidating it. In addition to avoiding losses, a private investor also cares for its image, quantifies its value and factors it in the sale or liquidation option.   Introduction On 6 July 2017, the General Court ruled in two closely related cases: T-74/14, France […]

Selectivity Stretched

Derogations that result in different tax treatment are selective measures. Introduction On 21 December 2016, the Commission achieved an important legal victory when the Court of Justice found in its favour in the judgment in joint cases C‑20/15 P and C‑21/15 P, Commission v World Duty Free Group [formerly Autogrill España] and Commission v Banco Santander, respectively.[1] The Commission appealed […]

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 […]

Media Plurality in Denmark

State aid measures need not be open to all undertakings.   Introduction On 11 October 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T-167/14, TSøndagsavisen v Commission.[1] Søndagsavisen requested annulment of Commission decision SA.36366 on a measure that had been notified by Denmark. The purpose of the measure was to support production and innovation in the newspaper and magazine sector […]

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 […]

- The Court of Justice ×

The Recovery of Incompatible Aid Cannot be Absolutely Impossible Unless it is first Attempted

Introduction In its ruling of 6 November 2018 in cases C‑622/16 P to C‑624/16 P, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission, the Court of Justice made it harder for Member States to escape from their recovery obligations.[1] Montessori appealed against the judgment of the General Court in case T‑220/13, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission. That judgment was reviewed here on […]

Legal Standing of Investors in Failed Banks

Investors that lodge claims before national courts for damages from resolution of banks have legal standing to request annulment of Commission decisions authorising State aid to those banks. Introduction It is now ten years since the start of the financial crisis. In these ten years, the Commission has adopted about 500 decisions dealing with State aid to banks and other […]

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 […]

Public Service Obligations Must be Properly Defined and Selectivity Must be Proven [1]

Neither the existence of market failure, nor national laws that designate a service to be in the general interest can replace an official act that assigns to one or more undertakings clearly defined public service obligations.   Introduction The proper definition of public service obligations (PSOs) is an issue that arises with surprising regularity. It is surprising because numerous court […]

Unlimited State Guarantees

Unlimited state guarantees create a presumption that the recipient of the guarantee obtains an advantage in the form of cheaper credit. Any advantage in the form of lower risk in transactions with suppliers or clients has to be proven.   Introduction State guarantees must be limited in time and amount and may cover only a specified event. Unlimited and general […]

Selectivity Can Exist at Different Levels: The Case of the Spanish Tax Lease System

transport ship
A tax measure may be selective in relation to both intermediate and final beneficiaries.  An undertaking may enjoy a selective advantage even if it passes all tax benefits to other parties.   Introduction A measure that is not selective at one level may be selective at another level and a measure that is selective at one level can also be […]

The Compatibility of State Aid Depends on the Rules which are Applicable at the Time the Aid is Granted

Failure to comply with just a single provision of an exemption regulation results in the non-applicability of the whole regulation and makes any implemented aid measure automatically illegal. The compatibility of aid measures adopted in the past but continuing having effects are assessed not on the basis of old rules but on the basis of the rules which are applicable […]

The Extent of the Discretion of Member States to Define Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI)

A service is classified as an SGEI not only when it is important for citizens but also when the market does not adequately supply it and one or more undertakings are compelled to provide it to specified consumers, in specified areas and on specified terms.   Introduction   The Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and the case law […]

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 […]

State Resources and Imputability

When the state acts in its capacity as legislator it is not presumed to direct the resources of undertakings it owns and over which it can exercise dominant influence as a shareholder. Introduction On 13 September 2017, the Court of Justice replied to a request from a national court to advise it on the concept of state resources [case C‑329/15, […]

Odysseus and the Sirens: A Rational Market Operator Can Agree to be Bound by the Ruling of an Arbitration Tribunal

A rational market operator can agree to arbitration if there is no reasonable prospect of a better outcome. However, a rational operator would ensure that the terms according to which an arbitration decision can be taken would be defined in advance and would not be prejudicial to the operator.   Introduction Is it rational for a market operator to agree […]

Sale, Liquidation and Other Options for Private Investors

A private investor chooses the less costly option between selling a company at a loss and liquidating it. In addition to avoiding losses, a private investor also cares for its image, quantifies its value and factors it in the sale or liquidation option.   Introduction On 6 July 2017, the General Court ruled in two closely related cases: T-74/14, France […]

Selectivity Stretched

Derogations that result in different tax treatment are selective measures. Introduction On 21 December 2016, the Commission achieved an important legal victory when the Court of Justice found in its favour in the judgment in joint cases C‑20/15 P and C‑21/15 P, Commission v World Duty Free Group [formerly Autogrill España] and Commission v Banco Santander, respectively.[1] The Commission appealed […]

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 […]

Media Plurality in Denmark

State aid measures need not be open to all undertakings.   Introduction On 11 October 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T-167/14, TSøndagsavisen v Commission.[1] Søndagsavisen requested annulment of Commission decision SA.36366 on a measure that had been notified by Denmark. The purpose of the measure was to support production and innovation in the newspaper and magazine sector […]

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 […]

- The Court of Justice ×

The Recovery of Incompatible Aid Cannot be Absolutely Impossible Unless it is first Attempted

Introduction In its ruling of 6 November 2018 in cases C‑622/16 P to C‑624/16 P, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission, the Court of Justice made it harder for Member States to escape from their recovery obligations.[1] Montessori appealed against the judgment of the General Court in case T‑220/13, Scuola Elementare Maria Montessori v European Commission. That judgment was reviewed here on […]

Legal Standing of Investors in Failed Banks

Investors that lodge claims before national courts for damages from resolution of banks have legal standing to request annulment of Commission decisions authorising State aid to those banks. Introduction It is now ten years since the start of the financial crisis. In these ten years, the Commission has adopted about 500 decisions dealing with State aid to banks and other […]

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 […]

Public Service Obligations Must be Properly Defined and Selectivity Must be Proven [1]

Neither the existence of market failure, nor national laws that designate a service to be in the general interest can replace an official act that assigns to one or more undertakings clearly defined public service obligations.   Introduction The proper definition of public service obligations (PSOs) is an issue that arises with surprising regularity. It is surprising because numerous court […]

Unlimited State Guarantees

Unlimited state guarantees create a presumption that the recipient of the guarantee obtains an advantage in the form of cheaper credit. Any advantage in the form of lower risk in transactions with suppliers or clients has to be proven.   Introduction State guarantees must be limited in time and amount and may cover only a specified event. Unlimited and general […]

Selectivity Can Exist at Different Levels: The Case of the Spanish Tax Lease System

transport ship
A tax measure may be selective in relation to both intermediate and final beneficiaries.  An undertaking may enjoy a selective advantage even if it passes all tax benefits to other parties.   Introduction A measure that is not selective at one level may be selective at another level and a measure that is selective at one level can also be […]

The Compatibility of State Aid Depends on the Rules which are Applicable at the Time the Aid is Granted

Failure to comply with just a single provision of an exemption regulation results in the non-applicability of the whole regulation and makes any implemented aid measure automatically illegal. The compatibility of aid measures adopted in the past but continuing having effects are assessed not on the basis of old rules but on the basis of the rules which are applicable […]

The Extent of the Discretion of Member States to Define Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI)

A service is classified as an SGEI not only when it is important for citizens but also when the market does not adequately supply it and one or more undertakings are compelled to provide it to specified consumers, in specified areas and on specified terms.   Introduction   The Treaty on the Functioning of the EU and the case law […]

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 […]

State Resources and Imputability

When the state acts in its capacity as legislator it is not presumed to direct the resources of undertakings it owns and over which it can exercise dominant influence as a shareholder. Introduction On 13 September 2017, the Court of Justice replied to a request from a national court to advise it on the concept of state resources [case C‑329/15, […]

Odysseus and the Sirens: A Rational Market Operator Can Agree to be Bound by the Ruling of an Arbitration Tribunal

A rational market operator can agree to arbitration if there is no reasonable prospect of a better outcome. However, a rational operator would ensure that the terms according to which an arbitration decision can be taken would be defined in advance and would not be prejudicial to the operator.   Introduction Is it rational for a market operator to agree […]

Sale, Liquidation and Other Options for Private Investors

A private investor chooses the less costly option between selling a company at a loss and liquidating it. In addition to avoiding losses, a private investor also cares for its image, quantifies its value and factors it in the sale or liquidation option.   Introduction On 6 July 2017, the General Court ruled in two closely related cases: T-74/14, France […]

Selectivity Stretched

Derogations that result in different tax treatment are selective measures. Introduction On 21 December 2016, the Commission achieved an important legal victory when the Court of Justice found in its favour in the judgment in joint cases C‑20/15 P and C‑21/15 P, Commission v World Duty Free Group [formerly Autogrill España] and Commission v Banco Santander, respectively.[1] The Commission appealed […]

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 […]

Media Plurality in Denmark

State aid measures need not be open to all undertakings.   Introduction On 11 October 2016, the General Court rendered its judgment in case T-167/14, TSøndagsavisen v Commission.[1] Søndagsavisen requested annulment of Commission decision SA.36366 on a measure that had been notified by Denmark. The purpose of the measure was to support production and innovation in the newspaper and magazine sector […]

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 […]

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!

Gastbeitrag einreichen

Nutzen Sie unseren Newsletter, um sich regelmäßig über Konferenzen, Workshops, Trainings und die  neuesten Ausgaben unserer Fachzeitschriften u.a. aus den Bereichen des europäischen Wettbewerbs- und Vergaberechte, Datenschutzrechte, Abfallrecht, Umwelt- und Planungsrecht sowie Chemikalien- und Pharmarecht zu informieren.

Verpassen Sie keine Events und Publikationen. Neuigkeiten abonnieren