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Case T-131/16 RENV Belgium v Commission · Annotation by Julie Leroy journal article

Annotation of the Judgment of the General Court (Second Chamber, Extended Composition) of 20 September 2023 in Case T-131/16 RENV Belgium v Commission

Julie Leroy

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 23 (2024), Issue 2, Page 206 - 211

The Excess Profit Ruling-saga goes all the way back to 2016, when the European Commission opened its formal investigation into the alleged aid scheme. More than seven years and several judgments later, the General Court concludes that the Commission correctly decided that the Belgian State granted unlawful (and incompatible) State aid through the Excess Profit Ruling-scheme. In the annotated judgment, the General Court focuses extensively on the selectivity analysis. The core of its analysis lies in the argument that the Advance Ruling Commission, when granting an Excess Profit Ruling, did not apply the rules on profit adjustments contained in the corporate income tax system (more precisely Article 185(2)(1)(b) of the 1992 Code on Income Taxation). This deviation from the reference system led, according to the Commission and the General Court, to a selective advantage. After discussing the judgment, an outlook on the continuation of the saga is given, focusing both on the appeal against the annotated judgment and on the faith of the individual investigations into Excess Profit Rulings.


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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