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Big on Big, Small on Small: A Never Ending Promise?

A Critical Assessment of the Commission Decision Practice with Regard to the Effect on Trade Criterion

Sebastiaan Cnossen, Georges Dictus


Keywords: effect on trade, local aid, cross-border, marginal effect, notion of aid

More than five years ago, the European Commission provided further guidance on local support measures by establishing three criteria in order to exclude an effect on trade. As authors explain in this article, this approach fits well within the existing case law of the CJEU and has also been recently endorsed by the General Court. At the same time, authors critically assess the decision practice of the Commission which often lacks a solid assessment of the three criteria. This detracts from the Commission's self-proclaimed goal to be 'big on big, small on small' and further reduce the administrative burden for public authorities and companies. This articles therefore calls upon the Commission to provide more legal certainty on the effect on trade criterion by taking the assessment of this criterion more seriously and create more precedents that stakeholders can rely on.
Keywords: effect on trade; local aid; cross-border; marginal effect; notion of aid

Sebastiaan Cnossen and Georges Dictus are both lawyers at Pels Rijcken, The Hague. For correspondence: <> and <>.


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