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Comune di Milano: Explanation of the Conditions under Which an Injection of Capital Became a State Aid Measure · Case C-160/19 P Comune di Milano v Commission · Annotation by Alice Pisapia

Annotation of the Judgment of the Court of Justice (Second Chamber) of 10 December 2020 in Case C-160/19 P Comune di Milano v Commission

Alice Pisapia


Keywords: appeal, air transport sector, public ownership of the managing company, State resources, private operator principle

The 2020 judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union – C-160/19 P Comune di Milano v Commission – illustrates under which conditions the injection of capital in a company owned and controlled by the State can be considered a measure imputable to the State. The City of Milan (Comune di Milano) tried, until last instance, to defend the injection of public capital in the company SEA Handling SpA which was managing ground services at Milan-Linate and Milan-Malpensa airports. However, the appeal against the judgment of the General Court was supporting the Commission’s interpretation about the qualification of the measure as a State aid unlawfully provided and, in any case, incompatible with the European internal market. The present case note analyses two relevant juridical concepts: the private operator principle as applied by the Court with the private investor test, and the intensity of the judicial review to be applied by the Court during the appeal of a Commission decision in case of complex economic assessments. Finally, given the apical role of the Commission in State aid, the Court cannot replace the assessment carried out by the Commission; it can only revise it if the misapplication of the private investor principle was vitiated by a manifest error.

Dr Alice Pisapia, Research Fellow in EU Law, Economics Department, Insubria University, Varese; Lawyer in Milan, Italy. For correspondence: <>.


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