Through its Communication adopted on 22 July, the European Commission delivered a helpful “Notice on the implementation of Commission decisions ordering Member States to recover unlawful and incompatible State aid”, or State Aid Recovery Notice. This technical document addresses national authorities in charge of implementing recovery measures of illegally granted State Aid ordered by the Commission, providing support on applicable rules and procedures and on cooperation between the EU and the national-level authorities in complying with their obligations in such cases.
With this new act, which replaces the previous Recovery Notice of 2007, the Commission takes stock of evolutions in practice and judiciary case law. It explains in greater detail how the Commission may assist Member States during the recovery phase, for instance by organising kick-off meetings, as well as by sharing documents and working method plans. It also provides specific guidance to national administrations i.e. on the quantification of sums to be recovered and on the identification of the companies that benefitted from the illegal State aid. Finally, it also includes specific sections with detailed explanations on how to implement recovery in case of tax reliefs, insolvency proceedings and restructuring.
This updated Notice should be considered as part of a long stocktaking and review process of European practice and legislation of competition policy over the last decade. About a year ago now, the European Commission launched several initiatives aiming at collecting grassroot feedback on the concrete impact of competition policy in general and state aid legislation in particular. This took the shape amongst other things of public consultations, to which CEEP responded, passing on its members’ experience: prolongation of the so-called SGEI De Minimis Regulation or “fitness check” of the 2012 State Aid Modernisation Package. Other similar consultations are planned in the near future, aiming at an evaluation of State subsidy rules for health and social services of general economic interest or Government Aid to regions over the 2014-2020 period.
Moreover, direct contacts by CEEP General Secretariat with EU officials already provided further opportunities to express European public services providers’ concerns and specific needs as the next generation of European political leadership has just been put in place or shall be soon.