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The Interplay between the European Commission, National Authorities and National Courts in State Aid Law: journal article

An Attempt to Cut the Gordian Knot

Ranjana Andrea Achleitner

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 21 (2022), Issue 2, Page 173 - 180

The interplay between the Commission, national courts and national authorities in the system of State aid enforcement poses a number of challenges and potential conflicts, which, in the end – as undoubtedly showcased by the Eesti Pagar judgment– also put the aid beneficiaries under great pressure in the context of the General Block Exemption Regulation. This article attempts to identify the most important problems and challenges related to the division of roles between the institutions in State aid law, with the intention of proposing solutions that provide legal certainty for relevant undertakings, the national authorities and national courts. The article also discusses the fact that despite the growing number of private enforcement litigation, the national courts have rarely concluded that unlawful aid was granted and rarely awarded remedies. The purpose of this paper is to provide proposals for more effective private enforcement. Finally, the article pays particular attention to the limited use of cooperation tools and suggests an update of these mechanisms. Keywords: private enforcement; eState-Wiki; GBER; standstill obligation; unlawful aid




Risk Finance Aid: journal article

Facilitating Access to Finance for SMEs, Start-Ups and Small or Innovative Middle-Capitalisation Firms

Gianni De Stefano, Wouter Dutillieux

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 21 (2022), Issue 3, Page 222 - 236

SMEs are the backbone of Member States’ economies, and are central to the EU’s economic development and resilience as a whole. Risk finance aid addresses market failures or other relevant obstacles that prevent SMEs and certain other non-large enterprises (ie, start-ups or certain middle-capitalisation firms (mid-caps), namely small or innovative mid-caps) from attracting the financing they require (eg, loans, guarantees or equity) to develop to their full potential. Risk finance aid for SMEs and start-ups, up to €15 million per beneficiary, can be block-exempted under the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER); whereas aid to innovative or small mid-caps, or aid that goes beyond the GBER conditions, can be notified by the Member State and approved by the European Commission under the Risk Finance Guidelines. This article describes the revised Risk Finance Guidelines of 2021 and the ongoing revision of the GBER section on risk finance. Keywords: risk finance; risk capital; SMEs; start-ups; mid-caps; access to finance; GBER; Risk Finance Guidelines




2ND ESTAL PHD AWARD NOMINATIONS ∙ Soft Law and Their Symbiotic Relationship with the Block Exemptions? journal article

A Nordic Perspective

Katrine Lillerud

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 20 (2021), Issue 3, Page 337 - 358

This article provides an overview of the position of quasi-legislative measures also referred to as ‘soft law’ before and after the State aid Modernisation (SAM). The main intention of the article is to illustrate the symbiotic relationship between the revised horizontal and sectorial guidelines with the general block exemption regulation (GBER) after SAM. It demonstrates how a selected handful of horizontal and sectorial guidelines have been transformed to facilitate better use of the block exemption to enhance the Commission’s own policy objectives, in a nice hand in glove fit with the GBER to nudge States into block exempted expenditure. The empirical study compares Norway, Sweden and Finland’s use of the GBER and guidelines. It shows that the framework is now more than ever nudging aid expenditure. The micro study reveals a drastic change in use before and after SAM in the three Nordic countries – underling the nudging power of the reform. Keywords: EStAL PhD Award; soft law; guidelines; GBER; horizontal; SAM; nudging; Nordics.