Enforcement of State Aid Law in the Area of Services of General Economic Interest in EU Candidate Countries
The article examines the decisions of the State aid monitoring authorities established during the last decade in the EU candidate countries in South-East European (SEE) in the field of services of general economic interest (SGEI). SEE countries have traditionally heavily subsidized providers of SGEI operating in a number of industries (e.g. postal sector, public transports, public broadcasting, water and energy supply). The article compares the national State aid decisions with the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) and the Decisions and the soft law adopted by the EU Commission in the area of SGEI. The article concludes that the SGEI acquis has either being “neglected” or “misapplied” by SEE monitoring authorities. The European Commission should thus not simply check whether EU candidate countries transpose the relevant State aid legislation and established a monitoring authority; it should also assess whether the local institutions enforce “correctly” the EU State aid acquis during the pre-accession phase.
Keywords: EU candidate countries; State aid monitoring authorities; Services of General Economic Interest; Altmark criteria