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EU State Aid Control in a Dynamic Global Environment: journal article

Time to Rethink the Interested Party Concept?

Antonis Metaxas

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 21 (2022), Issue 1, Page 43 - 53

EU State aid rules, as a normative framework for ensuring and preserving undistorted competition in an equitable Common Market, traditionally constitute fundamental provisions of the EU legal order. Within this framework, the constructive cooperation of the Member State concerned with the European Commission is important when assessing the compatibility of an aid measure with the internal market. Notwithstanding the bilateral character of the control procedure, the participation of interested parties enables the Commission to get a better insight regarding the contested aid measure in order to conclude whether the latter is aligned with the Union’s interests and policies. In a dynamic global environment, these interests and prevailing priorities are constantly redefined (climate change is a prominent example). To the extent that this broader, dynamic scope of EU State aid control is accepted, the question arises if State aid measures adopted by a Member State for supporting a given activity shall be assessed not only on the grounds provided for by the Member State concerned, the recipient of the aid or its direct competitors. In this context, the author claims that aspects of procedural efficiency must be held in balance with the reality of normative interdependence and the necessity of compatibility among EU policies. Procedurally, the question now arises if and to which extent the interested party concept must be broadened so that, for example, organisations of the civil society obtain a ‘locus standi’ in EU State aid control administrative procedures as well as in respective judicial proceedings before EU Courts. Keywords: interested party; State aid control procedure; NGO; Aarhus Convention; Aarhus Regulation

News from Micula: The Court of Justice Clarifies the Temporal Application of EU State Aid Rules and Confirms the Relevance of Achmea · Case C-638/19 P European Commission v European Food SA and Others (Micula) · Annotation by Vasiliki Dolka journal article

Annotation of the Judgment of the Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) of 25 January 2022 in Case C-638/19 P European Commission v European Food SA and Others ('Micula')

Vasiliki Dolka

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 21 (2022), Issue 1, Page 87 - 92

On 25 January 2022, the Court of Justice (CJ) overturned the judgment of the General Court (GC) that had annulled a 2015 European Commission (Commission) State aid decision declaring the payment of compensation granted by an arbitral award for violation of the 2003 Romania-Sweden Bilateral Investment Treaty, as unlawful and incompatible State aid. The GC annulled the Commission Decision for lack of competence ratione temporis to assess the measure as it considered the aid to have been granted before Romania’s accession to the EU. To the contrary, the CJ considers that the critical date at which the right to receive the aid is conferred to the beneficiary coincides with the granting of the right to compensation. On this ground, the CJ reinstates the Commission’s competence to review the aid. It also confirms the relevance of the Achmea ruling, by concluding that any consent that may have been given by an EU Member State to participate in international investment arbitration proceedings before its accession to the EU lacks any legal force post accession. The CJ has remanded the case back to the GC to decide on the merits.

Comune di Milano: Explanation of the Conditions under Which an Injection of Capital Became a State Aid Measure · Case C-160/19 P Comune di Milano v Commission · Annotation by Alice Pisapia journal article

Annotation of the Judgment of the Court of Justice (Second Chamber) of 10 December 2020 in Case C-160/19 P Comune di Milano v Commission

Alice Pisapia

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 21 (2022), Issue 2, Page 188 - 193

The 2020 judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union – C-160/19 P Comune di Milano v Commission – illustrates under which conditions the injection of capital in a company owned and controlled by the State can be considered a measure imputable to the State. The City of Milan (Comune di Milano) tried, until last instance, to defend the injection of public capital in the company SEA Handling SpA which was managing ground services at Milan-Linate and Milan-Malpensa airports. However, the appeal against the judgment of the General Court was supporting the Commission’s interpretation about the qualification of the measure as a State aid unlawfully provided and, in any case, incompatible with the European internal market. The present case note analyses two relevant juridical concepts: the private operator principle as applied by the Court with the private investor test, and the intensity of the judicial review to be applied by the Court during the appeal of a Commission decision in case of complex economic assessments. Finally, given the apical role of the Commission in State aid, the Court cannot replace the assessment carried out by the Commission; it can only revise it if the misapplication of the private investor principle was vitiated by a manifest error.

Environmental Protection: Contributions Channeled by Eco-Body Should not Involve the Transfer of State Resources · Case C-556/19 ECO TLC · Annotation by Sylvain Petit journal article

Annotation on the Judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union (First Chamber) of 21 October 2020 in Case C-556/19 ECO TLC contre Ministre d’État, ministre de la Transition écologique et solidaire, Ministre de l’Économie et des Finances

Sylvain Petit

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 20 (2021), Issue 1, Page 139 - 143

On 21 October 2020, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) handed down a preliminary ruling on the notion of ‘State resources’ regarding the French increased responsibility scheme for producers of waste from textile products, household linen and footwear products (TLC products). The CJEU ruled that a system set up by the State whereby producers of TLC products pay financial contributions to an eco-body which then enters into an agreement with sorting operators and provide them financial support for the recycling and treatment operations of the waste, may not constitute an intervention through State resources. This ruling emphasizes that the notion of ‘public control’ lies in the details: a range of circumstantial evidences is required to determine the extent of the public oversight over the funds channelled between private operators.

The European Green Deal and State Aid: journal article

Regions, State Aid and the Just Transition

Steven Verschuur, Cecilia Sbrolli

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 20 (2021), Issue 1, Page 41 - 50

The European Green Deal is the prelude and the foundation of a daunting, but necessary, environmental-centric industrial revolution. EU legislation has obviously dealt with environmental policies in the past, but the European Green Deal is a far-reaching project that will require unprecedented investments. The transition envisioned in the European Green Deal will also require amendments to a wide variety of existing EU legislation and policies, including in the field of State aid. The guidelines on regional State aid (2014 Regional Guidelines), in force until the end of 2021, constitute the legal framework in force to assess Regional State aid. The European Commission has already published draft Guidelines to replace the 2014 Guidelines (Draft Regional Guidelines) to bring the text in line with the European Green Deal. This paper is the second of a series that will discuss the interplay between existing State aid rules and policy on the one hand and the European Green Deal on the other. The first article provided an introduction to the European Green Deal and its interaction with the guidelines for State aid for environmental protection and energy (EEAG). This second article will focus on the Just Transition Mechanism (JTM) and its interplay with the Draft Regional Guidelines. Keywords: European Green Deal; regional State aid; Just Transition; outermost territories; financing the transition

East Wind, West Wind: journal article

An Analysis of the Differences in State Aid Allocations Between Old and New Member States

Marco Schito

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 20 (2021), Issue 2, Page 200 - 216

Scholars have long wondered whether, following the increasing degree of institutionalisation of State aid control, State aid policies are converging towards a common European model. The issue of convergence has come to the forefront in particular following the Eastern enlargement, which welcomed several countries with a very different historical legacy. The present article thus looks at the differences in State aid allocations between old and new Member States to understand whether, in the over fifteen years since the enlargement, such differences have been overcome. By means of statistical analysis, it argues that differences in aid levels between the two blocs persist both in terms of overall allocations and in expenditures by objectives. Drawing from the literature on comparative political economy, it further explores a potential explanation as to why intra-bloc differences among Central Eastern European countries also continue to this day. Keywords: Central Eastern European Countries; CEEC; comparative capitalism; statistical analysis; State aid politics.