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France v Commission and Orange v Commission  ∙ Case T-135/12 and Case T-385/12  ∙ Annotation by Adrien Giraud and Sylvain Petit

Combined Case Annotation on Judgments T-135/12 and T-385/12

Adrien Giraud, Sylvain Petit

On 26 February 2015, the General Court of the European Union (hereinafter the GC or the General Court) handed down two judgments on the issue of compensation for ‘structural’ disadvantages. In line with recent case-law, the GC ruled that measures imposed by public authorities to compensate for ‘structural’ disadvantages entail an advantage for the beneficiary and can therefore be considered as State aid. The GC’s approach effectively makes it impossible to invoke the argument of structural disadvantage at the stage of State aid qualification. Furthermore, this approach has the undesirable consequence of shifting the analysis of distortion of competition at the stage of compatibility, rather than qualification. The appeal brought by the French Republic and France Télécom in this case may give the ECJ the occasion to stir back closer to the letter of Article 107 TFEU.
Keywords: Structural Disadvantage, Pension Scheme, Proportionality, Privatisation

Respectively, Partner and Associate at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP (Brussels).


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