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An Illustration of a Textbook Case or Rather of the Principle That the Devil Is in the Detail? · Cases T-607/17 Volotea, T-716/17 Germanwings and T-8/18 easyJet · Annotation by Marianne Clayton, Maria Segura and Lara Manuel journal article

Annotation on the Judgments of the General Court of the European Union (First Chamber) of 13 May 2020 in Cases T-607/17 Volotea v Commission, T-716/17 Germanwings v Commission and T-8/18 easyJet v Commission

Marianne Clayton, Maria Segura, Lara Manuel

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 19 (2020), Issue 3, Page 372 - 377

On 13 May 2020, the General Court of the EU rendered three judgments on the actions brought by Volotea, easyJet and Germanwings seeking the annulment of Commission Decision SA.33983. In this Decision, the Commission had inter alia concluded that the aid scheme ‘Compensation to Sardinian airports for public service obligations’ entailed the grant of incompatible aid to several airlines that had concluded commercial agreements with airport operators for the development of the island as a tourist destination. The General Court analysed in these judgments each of the criteria of the notion of State aid on its own merits and provided particularly worth-noting reasoning on concepts such as imputability, indirect advantage, the application of the MEOP or the definition of aid scheme.



The Excess Profit Exemption System · Joined Cases T-131/16 and T-263/16 Belgium v Commission · Annotation by François-Guillaume de Lichtervelde journal article

Annotation on the judgment of the General Court (Seventh Chamber, Extended Composition) of 14 February 2019 in Joined Cases T‑131/16 Belgium v Commission and T-263/16 Magnetrol v Commission

François-Guillaume de Lichtervelde

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 18 (2019), Issue 3, Page 382 - 390

As the first State aid case involving tax rulings to reach the General Court, the judgment regarding the Belgian ‘excess profit exemption’ regime was highly anticipated. Instead of investigating separately the tax rulings granting the exemption, the Commission had intended to frame the case at the higher level and went after an ‘aid scheme’. The Court did not follow this qualification and set aside the Commission’s Decision. While the judgment inflicted a blow to the enforcer’s approach, the Court did not take a position on the most sensitive questions raised by this case. The boundaries of EU State aid control with respect to tax rulings thus still remain unclear. However, the judgment established that Belgium enjoyed a margin of discretion in adopting the rulings that granted the excess profit exemption. This finding, which was fatal to the Commission’s scheme-based theory, may now support the Commission’s case that the rulings are ‘selective’ and could therefore amount to State aid. In that sense, the judgment may ultimately have done more harm than good to Belgium’s case against the Commission’s investigation. Keywords: Excess Profit Exemption; Tax Rulings; Aid Scheme; Individual Aid; Belgium; Discretion; Selectivity.

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