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When State Aid Goes Wrong: Journal Artikel

Member State’s Liability Towards the Aid Beneficiary – A Belgian Case Study

Julie Leroy

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Jahrgang 21 (2022), Ausgabe 4, Seite 384 - 396

A Member State which violates the standstill-obligation under Article 108(3) TFEU is not directly held responsible for his failure to comply with his obligations under EU law, as it is the aid beneficiary who will be obliged to repay the unlawful (and incompatible) State aid. This contribution evaluates if the aid beneficiary can nevertheless hold the Member State somehow responsible, through a damage claim based on the latter’s extra-contractual liability for the violation of EU law. The Belgian case study shows that such a claim can be successful, as the conditions of Articles 1382-1383 Old Civil Code might be fulfilled. However, the aid beneficiary is in a difficult position. One the one hand, this undertaking bears the ‘risk of proof’. On the other hand, a full compensation will be rare as, amongst others, the aid beneficiary’s own fault might lead to a liability apportionment. Finally, the obligation to repay the unlawful State aid (with interest) as such will never qualify as a damage that is eligible for a compensation, as this would undermine the effectiveness of EU law. Keywords: Article 108(3) TFEU; standstill-obligation; recovery of unlawful (and incompatible) State aid; liability of Member States; Belgium





2ND ESTAL PHD AWARD NOMINATIONS ∙ Recovery of Unlawful Fiscal State Aid in Belgium Journal Artikel

Julie Leroy

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Jahrgang 20 (2021), Ausgabe 3, Seite 325 - 336

This article, like my PhD thesis on which it is based, focuses on the recovery of unlawful fiscal State aid in Belgium. Currently, Belgium has no general legal framework for recovery procedures: neither for non-fiscal, nor for fiscal State aid. To the contrary, for the recovery of fiscal State aid, ad hoc-legislation was adopted in the past. On the one hand, the research evaluates if there is a need for a new legal framework for the recovery of unlawful fiscal State aid in Belgium, in the execution of a recovery decision from the European Commission. In order to make this evaluation, the existing ‘tax law route’ and ‘civil law route’ for fiscal recovery procedures are charted. Those routes are tested against ten evaluation criteria, which are deducted from EU law and national law. This evaluation clearly shows that there is a need for a new legal framework for the recovery of unlawful fiscal State aid in Belgium. Consequently, on the other hand, this research makes recommendations regarding the content and design of the new proposed framework. It is, amongst others, recommended to adopt general legislation that applies to all future fiscal recovery procedures in Belgium. Despite its focus on Belgium, several aspects of the research are also interesting for other EU Member States. Keywords: EStAL PhD Award; PhD research; recovery of unlawful (fiscal) State aid; Belgium; current framework; recommendations for new framework.




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

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, Jahrgang 18 (2019), Ausgabe 3, Seite 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.