The procedural rights of beneficiaries of state aid in the EU enforcement of state aid law
PhD student: Mrs L.E.A. Thomsin
Promotor: L. Parret
Duration: 1/10/2015 - 30/9/2019
Beneficiaries of state aid have very limited procedural rights during a Commission investigation. They have no well-defined right of defense in the EU enforcement of state aid law. It is true that the beneficiaries of state aid are not the addressees of a decision of the European Commission in a state aid case (the Member State is) and the European Commission must enforce state aid law in an efficient manner. The beneficiaries are however still (in)directly (economically) affected by any Commission decision relating to state aid. The procedural position of beneficiaries of state aid is in sharp contrast with the position of undertakings who are the subject of an antitrust investigation by the European Commission, although both state aid rules and antitrust rules are part of the competition rules in the TFEU. The beneficiaries have an individual interest of receiving effective judicial protection in this specific area, in order to protect their interest when they are affected by a state aid decision. The European Commission has a general interest, namely effective enforcement of state aid control in order to pursue the objectives of state aid control. In the current framework of state aid control it seems that effective judicial protection and effective enforcement are not in balance with each other.