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Belgian Ports Carry Out Economic Activities and Should Be Liable to Corporate Tax · Case T-696/17 Belgian Sea Ports · Annotation by Jessica Bracker and Schéhérazade Oozeerally

Annotation on the Judgment of the General Court of 20 September 2019 in Case T-696/17 Havenbedrijf Antwerpen NV and Maatschappij van de Brugse Zeehaven NV v European Commission

Jessica Bracker, Schéhérazade Oozeerally


Keywords: taxation, sea ports, notion of undertaking, notion of selectivity, equal treatment

The Case T-696/17 Belgian Sea Ports relates to an action for annulment introduced by the port authorities of Antwerp and Bruges against the European Commission Decision 2017/2115 which found that Belgian port operators had benefited from incompatible State aid through an exemption from corporate tax. This case is of interest in that it sheds light on the difficulties of establishing that an entity is not an ‘undertaking’ in circumstances where the latter performs mixed activities which are both economic and non-economic in nature. Moreover, it provides yet another confirmation that the application of the ‘three step’ analysis for the assessment of selectivity is not always a straightforward exercise. Lastly, it confirms that an aid beneficiary cannot rely on an unlawful aid received by a third party to allege a breach of the principle of equal treatment.

Jessica Bracker, associate at Ashurst LLP; Schéhérazade Oozeerally, associate at Ashurst LLP. All views expressed in this case note are solely the responsibility of the authors. For correspondence: <> and <>.


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