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SNCM and French Republic v Corsica Ferries ∙ Joined Cases C-533/12 P and C-536/12 P ∙ Annotation by Tim Bruyninckx

Annotation on the Judgment of the Court of Justice of 4 September 2014 in Joined Cases C-533/12 P and C-536/12 P, SNCM and French Republic v Corsica Ferries

Tim Bruyninckx

In the SNCM judgment, the CJEU upheld the GC's judgment partly annulling Commission Decision 2009/611/EC. Whilst a number of interesting elements were addressed in these cases, one of the issues that stands out concerns the Commission’s assessment resulting in the finding that redundancy payments, while not required by law, can be deemed to be economically rational when they intend to protect the brand image of the 'public investor'. That assessment was however found to be unsatisfactory. In the cases, the GC and CJEU clarified the requirements such an assessment should comply with. More generally, this jurisprudence confronts the question of the Commission’s responsibility as the EU State aid law authority, and suggests that this responsibility comes with a requirement to make diligent economic assessments while adopting a strict position when administering EU State aid law, and in particular when applying the 'private purchaser criterion'.
Key words: advantage; private investor test; economic rational behavior by a Member State

Doctoral Researcher, European University Institute.


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