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Belgian Ports Carry Out Economic Activities and Should Be Liable to Corporate Tax · Case T-696/17 Belgian Sea Ports · Annotation by Jessica Bracker and Schéhérazade Oozeerally journal article

Annotation on the Judgment of the General Court of 20 September 2019 in Case T-696/17 Havenbedrijf Antwerpen NV and Maatschappij van de Brugse Zeehaven NV v European Commission

Jessica Bracker, Schéhérazade Oozeerally

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 19 (2020), Issue 2, Page 212 - 219

The Case T-696/17 Belgian Sea Ports relates to an action for annulment introduced by the port authorities of Antwerp and Bruges against the European Commission Decision 2017/2115 which found that Belgian port operators had benefited from incompatible State aid through an exemption from corporate tax. This case is of interest in that it sheds light on the difficulties of establishing that an entity is not an ‘undertaking’ in circumstances where the latter performs mixed activities which are both economic and non-economic in nature. Moreover, it provides yet another confirmation that the application of the ‘three step’ analysis for the assessment of selectivity is not always a straightforward exercise. Lastly, it confirms that an aid beneficiary cannot rely on an unlawful aid received by a third party to allege a breach of the principle of equal treatment.


How Flexible Should State Aid Control Be in Times of Crisis? journal article

Carole Maczkovics

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 19 (2020), Issue 3, Page 271 - 283

The COVID-19 pandemic requires massive State intervention in the economy. To allow EU Member States to act decisively, the Commission committed to make flexible use of State aid rules. This article examines how, over the first four months of the crisis, these rules have been applied to measures notified by EU Member States in view of addressing the consequences of the crisis on their economy. It further highlights the risks that the more flexible application of State aid rules in the context of the current crisis can present for the level playing field and the internal market, and argues that the EU Recovery Plan would not be able to remove those risks. Finally, it recommends that the Commission reviews whether aid measures comply with the general principle of equal treatment and, where it is given discretion under the Treaty, considers imposing conditions counter-balancing distortions of competition, and as the case may be, enabling the green and digital transition so as to ensure, to the largest extent possible, fair competition and the integrity of the internal market. Keywords: COVID-19, level playing field, internal market, equal treatment, conditionality

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