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State Aid Junkies, Viruses and the Aviation Industry: journal article

Ryanair’s Litigation against Approved Aid Measures for Airlines During the Pandemic

Christopher McMahon

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 20 (2021), Issue 2, Page 249 - 257

During the pandemic, many Member States have engaged in more interventionist policies to sustain their economies through tough public health restrictions. This has manifested itself in the provision of large quantities of State aid to elements of the aviation industry by Member States, facilitated by the relatively permissive policies of the European Commission. The Irish low-cost airline Ryanair has been a notable and outspoken critic of these measures, describing them as ‘state aid crack cocaine’ and their beneficiaries as ‘state aid junkies’ and has launched an aggressive programme of litigation to annul the decisions approving the aid. This article reviews the first nine of the judgments of the General Court that this litigation has produced to date, three of which have led to the annulment of the Commission’s approval of the aid. This article will go on to assess the impact of these decisions and examine the contribution they make towards understanding the State aid response of the EU and its Member States to the pandemic. It will be suggested that the General Court has generally taken a tolerant attitude towards pandemic-related aid for aviation, upholding the approval of individual aid and allowing Member States to confine the aid to recipients with a close connection to their own economies. Keywords: COVID-19; Temporary Framework; aviation; non-discrimination.


State Aid and COVID-19: journal article

With a Particular Focus on the Air Transport Sector

Petar Petrov

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 20 (2021), Issue 4, Page 461 - 478

The outbreak of COVID-19 has devastating effects on national economies and on various business sectors. To prevent even harder consequences, Member States have adopted various support packages in order to support the hardest-hit businesses, including air carriers and airports. In order to support Member States’ initiatives, the European Commission has adopted temporary applicable State aid rules deemed more appropriate to these extraordinary circumstances. Without surprise, the rather fast authorisation of a number of State aid support schemes has open the door to litigation, giving the EU courts the occasion to rule on a number of matters. Given the importance of air carriers for both Member States’ economies and connectivity, the current paper focuses on the impact of COVID-19 on air carriers and on the recent State aid developments in this field. Keywords: support schemes; COVID-19; Temporary Framework; airlines; aviation; non-discrimination; balance of interests


Fund Transfers to Authorities Owning a Company as State Aid? - Equal Fund-Distribution in the Case of ‘Double Roles’ · Case T-583/18 GVN · Annotation by Benjamin Linke journal article

Annotation on the Judgment of the General Court (Fifth Chamber) of 5 October 2020 in Case T-583/18 GVN

Benjamin Linke

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 20 (2021), Issue 1, Page 114 - 119

It is well enough understood that public authorities exercising official power are no undertakings and therefore cannot be recipients of State aid. What happens, however, if an authority receives funds for distribution in a sector (here: the transport sector) and at the same time owns or controls a company in given sector? Does the ‘dual role’ already lead to a classification as transfer of funds to a State aid relevant undertaking? The General Court had to decide on this question in connection with compensation means in local public transport that were transferred by the state to lower administrative authorities for distribution to transport companies. The local authorities were criticised of (allegedly) making the funds available to their own companies rather than private operators.

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