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Public Aid to Airports as a Compensation for the Provision of Services of General Economic Interest

Michele Giannino, Federich Romby


Keywords: State aid, SGEI, Public Service Obligations, Airports, Altmark, 2014 Aviation Guidelines

The purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive review of the European Commission’s approach in assessing whether compensation awarded to airports for the provision of Services of General Economic Interest (SGEIs) complies with the EU State aid rules. The article analyses the defensive strategies open for national authorities to claim that airports public service compensation packages are compatible with the internal market. In that regard, the article considers the Altmark doctrine and the compatibility conditions for the application of the SGEI exception in Article 106 TFEU. Then it critically compares the strong and weak points of each of these strategies and also dwells on which factors national authorities have to adduce to prove the compatibility of airport aid. Bearing in mind the difficulties for national authorities to satisfy all the conditions for the application of the Altmark doctrine, the article suggests that the SGEI exception should be the optimal strategy to obtain regulatory clearance of public service compensation to airport.

Dr Michele Giannino, Italian qualified lawyer, LLM (Leicester), PhD (London), Dip (ITM); Federich Romby, Italian qualified lawyer, LLM (LSE), Associate at CMS Milan (Italy).


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