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State Aid in the Ports Sector: a Blessing or a Curse?

Recent European Policy Initiatives and Measures from a Dutch Perspective.

Sarah Beeston, Pim Jansen, Kiek Brink


Keywords: Ports sector, level playing field, economic policy, GBER, State Aid Modernisation Programme

The European Commission sees the ports sector as a driving force for economic growth and regional development in Europe. It has recently developed various policy initiatives in this sector and taken measures whereby State aid control forms the key element. The Commission has opted for an approach based on two interlinked pillars. First, the Commission intends to create a (more) level playing field among European Union Member States, by using State aid rules to curb tax benefits for (public) companies in the ports sector. Second, further to the State Aid Modernisation Programme, the Commission is, to an increasing extent, pursuing an active European economic policy in the ports sector by means of exemptions from the prohibition of State aid. As a result, certain aid measures targeting market failures and objectives of a common European interest are permissible. In this article we will provide an analysis of recent developments and place them in their legal and policy-related context. We will specifically discuss the impact of these developments on seaports in the Netherlands.

Sarah J. Beeston is partner at Van Doorne N.V. and head of the European and Competition Law practice group; Pim Jansen, PhD, who is also attached to KU Leuven as a researcher, and Kiek I. Brink are lawyers in this practice group. For correspondence: <>; <>; <>.


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