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The Analogous Application of State Aid Law to Asymmetric Taxes

Can the Imposition of a Special Charge Be State Aid Within the Meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU?

Lars Mörmel


Keywords: special charges, asymmetrical taxes, negative State aid, analogous application

Narrow-scoped special charges imposed by Member States on certain undertakings can have an effect that is as distorting on competition as tax exemptions. However, the wording of Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) does not allow for a direct application of State aid rules in these cases; neither is it possible to treat special charges as a form of far-reaching tax exemption for unaffected undertakings. Despite its practical significance, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has failed so far to address the issue appropriately. This article critically examines the relevant case-law and calls for a methodological re-orientation. In the absence of other legal instruments to deal with the problem and in light of the potential for Member States to circumvent State aid rules through special charges, Article 107(1) TFEU should, in extension of its literal scope of application, be applied to special charges by way of analogy. This would lead to more legal clarity and certainty for both lawmakers and affected undertakings.
Keywords: special charges; asymmetrical taxes; negative State aid; analogous application

Lars Mörmel is a Post-Graduate Research Assistant at the Chair of Public Law and Tax Law at the University of Münster, Germany, Professor Dr Marcel Krumm. For correspondence: <>


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