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Public Authority or Economic Activity in the Context of Public Infrastructures journal article

An Assessment of the European Commission’s Policy After Leipzig-Halle

Rass Holdgaard, Grith Skovgaard Ølykke, Rasmus Grønved Nielsen

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 18 (2019), Issue 3, Page 274 - 292

The introduction of a more economic approach in State aid control should be viewed as a healthy development. However, before subjecting public spending to the constraints of thorough economic analysis it is necessary to ask whether State aid control is requisite and meaningful at all. A corner stone of this assessment is to determine the dividing line between exercise of public authority and economic activities. In this paper, we raise concerns about the Commission’s recent approach to distinguishing between exercise of public authority and economic activity in the context of general transport infrastructure. The Commission’s approach and notably its new focus on the concept of ‘commercial exploitation’ may overstretch existing Case law and thus the notion of aid. It is concluded that the Commission should return to a more nuanced and specific assessment of each activity when it draws this important line. Keywords: Concept of undertaking; Public authority; Economic activity; General transport infrastructure


Previous State aid and Subsequent Financial Assistance journal article

The FIH Judgment and the Future of the MEOP

Jan Bonhage

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 18 (2019), Issue 1, Page 29 - 36

Taking into account previous State aid in the MEOP assessment requires an in-depth analysis of the specifics of the individual case. The mere fact that economic interests derive from previous State aid does not rule out their relevance in the assessment of the economic rationality of further financial measures. State aid aims at a comprehensive analysis of all relevant factors at the time of the funding decision. Both the purpose of the MEOP and previous European case law support such comprehensive substantive approach in the MEOP State aid assessment of subsequent financial measures. In light of the rationale of the MEOP and previous decisions, the CJEU’s rather formal approach in the FIH case is not convincing. The comprehensive substantive approach of ING Groep, also concerning the relevance of previous State aid in the assessment of subsequent public measures, more adequately reflects all aspects that a private investor would take into account in a comparable situation. Keywords: FIH; ING Groep; Land Burgenland; MEOP; previous State aid; subsequent financial measures; substantive approach; comprehensive assessment; formal approach; public authority.

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