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Ex Post Assessment of the Impact of State Aid on Competition journal article

Nicole Robins, Hannes Geldof

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 17 (2018), Issue 4, Page 494 - 508

The EU’s State aid modernisation reforms introduced a role for ex post evaluations of aid schemes. State aid evaluation provides an opportunity to continuously improve the effectiveness and efficiency of aid schemes to ensure that their positive impact outweighs possible distortions to competition and trade. Traditionally, the role for an extensive analysis of the impact of aid on competition has been limited compared with other areas of competition policy, such as merger control, and assessments of anticompetitive agreements or abuse of dominance. The European Commission therefore asked Oxera to develop an economic framework that can be used to assess the competitive effects of aid, and to gain further insights into the actual impact of aid on competition. Oxera’s study may have significant implications for future State aid control. This article discusses the economic framework developed by Oxera as well as insights from Oxera’s study into the main drivers of the likely impact of aid on competition.



State Aid in Energy under the Spotlight: The Implications of the Hinkley Point Decision journal article

The Implications of the Hinkley Point Decision

Nicole Robins, Tridevi Chakma

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 15 (2016), Issue 2, Page 247 - 257

State aid issues in the energy sector are more than ever before under the spotlight of the European Commission, as Member States across the EU are seeking to address concerns about the security of supply whilst incentivising low carbon generation and interconnection in order to meet EU 2020 targets. According to the Commission’s official statistics, in 2014, the energy sector was the most subsidised sector in the EU. The well-publicised State aid approval of the package of aid for the construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point highlights the role for sophisticated economic and financial analysis in State aid cases. The Hinkley Point investigation has raised the standard for all subsequent aid notifications in the energy sector, but also has wider implications for State aid cases outside of energy. This article discusses the key implications of the Hinkley Point investigation for subsequent aid notifications, focusing on the analysis of market failures and the proportionality of the aid, including the sophisticated mechanisms that were introduced to mitigate the risk of over-compensation. The article concludes by assessing the implications for all subsequent State aid notifications. Keywords: Aid to nuclear energy; Guarantee; Overcompensation; Renewable energy; Euratom.


Corporate Tax Arrangements Under EU State Aid Scrutiny journal article

The Application of the Market Economy Operator Principle

James Kavanagh, Nicole Robins

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 14 (2015), Issue 3, Page 358 - 370

In 2014 the European Commission began in-depth State aid investigations into the corporate tax affairs of well-known multinational companies—Amazon, Apple, Fiat Finance and Trade, and Starbucks. In late 2014, the Commission announced that it was also investigating tax rulings agreed by all EU Member States between 2010 and 2013. In the course of the investigations, the Commission has indicated that the market economy operator principle (MEOP) should be applied to assess whether companies’ corporate tax arrangements are market-conforming. The MEOP test appears to have been applied by assessing whether the methods used to allocate profit between subsidiaries of the same corporate group are on an arm’s-length basis. Although the OECD has set out guidelines on how to apply the arm’s-length principle, as discussed in this article, the Commission appears to regard conformity with the OECD’s guidance as not necessarily sufficient to demonstrate compliance with the MEOP. This article discusses how lessons from other areas of competition law and from regulated industries, supported by economic and financial analysis, can provide valuable insights into the application of the MEOP test to assess whether companies’ corporate tax arrangements are market-conforming. Keywords: Advantage, Selectivity

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