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Sport and State Aid Before the EU Courts journal article

Applying the Rules as Normal Instead of Accepting a Sport Exception

Wolfgang Weiß

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 23 (2024), Issue 2, Page 101 - 114

Sport has been a recurring topic for the CJEU in its application of EU law since the 1970s, but until recently it was hardly relevant to the area of State aid. This has changed significantly since 2019, when the GC annulled Commission decisions on State aid in the professional football sector, followed by two CJEU rulings in 2021 and 2022. The article will show that the judicial application of State aid law in these cases was not unique (especially as sport-specific claims by football clubs were considered irrelevant), that the cases provided insights of general importance for State aid law (eg regarding the standard of proof) and that Article 165 TFEU does not provide a specific exception. Keywords: State aid and sport; Spanish football cases; notion of aid; selectivity; standard of proof


Petra Flašker and the Notion of Doubts in the Context of Preliminary Investigations of Both New and Existing Measures · Case T-392/20 Flašker v Commission · Annotation by Marianne Clayton, Gaétan Roelants du Vivier and Matthieu Jamart journal article

Annotation on the Judgment of the General Court (Fourth Chamber) of 27 April 2022 in Case T-392/20 Flašker v Commission

Marianne Clayton, Gaétan Roelants du Vivier, Matthieu Jamart

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 22 (2023), Issue 1, Page 89 - 94

The judgment of the General Court in Case T-392/20 Flašker v Commission addresses the procedural concept of serious difficulties and the scope of the Commission’s obligation, when investigating complaints, to carry out a thorough examination beyond the mere information provided by the complainants and the national authorities which is also applicable in the context of existing aid. In particular, the General Court reaffirmed the Commission’s responsibility to conduct a proper investigation when faced with serious allegations and insisted that the Commission cannot rely on the fact that the complaint may not be sufficiently substantiated as an argument for dismissing it. More novel, the General Court noted that the Commission had disregarded the existing procedural rules by adopting a decision finding that, assuming that a measure constitutes aid, it amounts to existing aid, but unfortunately did not draw any further conclusions.


Assessing the Standard of Proof in Fiscal State Aid journal article

Red Card to the Commission

Begoña Pérez Bernabeu

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 18 (2019), Issue 4, Page 447 - 457

The General Court annulled the Commission’s Decision qualifying as State aid a tax regime granted by Spain to certain Spanish professional football clubs (namely, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid FC, Athletic Bilbao and Club Atlético Osasuna). The General Court took the view that the Commission had not proven that the tax regime had the effect of conferring an actual economic advantage on these four clubs. This judgment is highly significant because, without ruling on most of the substantive issues of the Case, it is the first time that criteria on the burden and standard of proof incumbent on the Commission are so clearly stated, particularly in the field of State aid. Moreover, this General Court’s approach is supported by recent and later Case law under which the Commission is required to carry out a complete analysis of all the factors that are relevant to the measure at issue. Keywords: Burden of proof; Standard of proof; Tax advantage; Football; Sports.


How to Determine the Existence of a Tax Advantage · Case T-865/16 F.C. Barcelona · Annotation by Begoña Pérez Bernabeu journal article

Annotation on the Judgment of the General Court (Fourth Chamber) of 26 February 2019 in Case T-865/16 F.C. Barcelona v European Commission

Begoña Pérez Bernabeu

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 18 (2019), Issue 3, Page 377 - 381

Without ruling on the merits of the Case, the General Court annulled the Commission’s Decision qualifying as State aid a tax regimen granted by Spain to the major Spanish professional football clubs Real Madrid, F.C. Barcelona, Athletic Club de Bilbao and Club Atlético Osasuna. Following the action for annulment from F.C. Barcelona, the General Court took the view that the Commission had not sufficiently proven that the tax regime had the effect of conferring an actual economic advantage on these four clubs. Keywords: State aid; Burden of proof; Standard of proof; tax advantage; tax rate.

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