European commission

ECA – Do the Commission’s procedures ensure effective management of State aid control? – Special Report No 15/2011

The European Commission has overall responsibility to ensure effective State aid control. Competition DG has the lead responsibility for the management of EU competition policy. Agriculture and Rural Development DG and Maritime Affairs and Fisheries DG are responsible for State aid control in the areas of agriculture and fisheries. Competition DG is responsible for State aid control in all other economic sectors.

The legal basis for the Commission’s State aid control is given in Articles 107 to 108 TFEU (see paragraphs 3 and 8 and Annex). A Council regulation (the Procedural Regulation1) and a Commission regulation ( the Implementing Regulation2) set out in detail how the Commission carries out its responsibilities. The Commission issues communications and guidelines which are intended to give further explanations of how the rules apply in practice.

Communication – Application of EU State aid rules to compensation granted for the provision of SGEI

Services of general economic interest (SGEIs) are not only rooted in the shared values of the Union but also play a central role in promoting social and territorial cohesion. The Union and the Member States, each within their respective powers, must take care that such services operate on the basis of principles and conditions which enable them to fulfil their missions.

Certain SGEIs can be provided by public or private undertakings1 without specific financial support from Member States’ authorities. Other services can only be provided if the authority concerned offers financial compensation to the provider. In the absence of specific Union rules, Member States are generally free to determine how their SGEIs should be organised and financed.

Decision – Application of Article 106(2) of the TFEU to State aid in the form of public service compensation granted to certain undertakings entrusted with the operation of SGEI

Article 14 of the Treaty requires the Union, without prejudice to Articles 93, 106 and 107 of the Treaty, to use its powers in such a way as to make sure that services of general economic interest operate on the basis of principles and conditions which enable them to fulfil their missions.

For certain services of general economic interest to operate on the basis of principles and under conditions which enable them to fulfil their missions, financial support from the State may prove necessary to cover some or all of the specific costs resulting from the public service obligations. In accordance with Article 345 of the Treaty, as interpreted by the Court of Justice of the European Union, it is irrelevant whether such services of general economic interest are operated by public or private undertakings.

Communication – EU framework for State aid in the form of public service compensation (2011)

For certain services of general economic interest (SGEIs) to operate on the basis of principles and under conditions that enable them to fulfil their missions, financial support from the public authorities may prove necessary where revenues accruing from the provision of the service do not allow the costs resulting from the public service obligation to be covered.

It follows from the case-law of the Court of Justice of the European Union1 that public service compensation does not constitute State aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union if it fulfils a certain number of conditions2. Where those conditions are met, Article 108 of the Treaty does not apply.

Draft Regulation – Application of Articles 107 and 108 of the TFEU to de minimis aid granted to undertakings providing SGEI

Single Market Act twelve levers to boost growth and strengthen confidence.

At the heart of the European project since its inception, the common market – which has now become the internal market – has for over 50 years woven strands of solidarity between. An area of free movement for goods, people, the men and women of Europe, whilst opening up new opportunities for growth for more than 21 million European businesses services and capital, the internal market has been further developed since 1993 by the consolidation of economic integration, the Euro and solidarity and cohesion policies. Today more than ever it has become a part of people’s everyday life in their professional and private activities and as consumers. It is the real growth engine within the European.economy

Nevertheless, the internal market has shortcomings, which were highlighted by Mario Monti in his report “A New Strategy for the Single Market” and by the European Parliament in Louis Grech’s report “Delivering a single market to consumers and citizens”.

A new Strategy for the single market

The report highlights that today the single market is at a critical juncture, as it faces three challenges (chapter 1). The first challenge comes from the erosion of the political and social support for market integration in Europe. The single market is seen by many Europeans – citizens as well as political leaders – with suspicion, fear and sometimes open hostility. Two mutually reinforcing trends are at work: an “integration fatigue”, eroding the appetite for more Europe and for a single market; and more recently, a “market fatigue”, with a reduced confidence in the role of the market. The single market today is less popular than ever, while Europe needs it more than ever.

In his “Political guidelines for the new Commission” President Barroso identified the single market as a key strategic objective for Europe, to be pursued with renewed political determination. Based on the mandate received from President Barroso, this report examines the challenges that an initiative to relaunch the single market faces today and outlines a comprehensive strategy to make such a relaunch politically successful and economically and socially viable.

Reform of the EU State Aid Rules on SGEI_en

The purpose of this Communication is to launch the political debate with stakeholders andother institutions on the upcoming revision of the State aid Package on Services of General Economic Interest (SGEI) (also known as post-Altmark Package). The Package includes a series of measures adopted in 2005, in particular the SGEI Decision1 and the SGEI Framework2, in which the Commission has clarified the application of the Treaty articles on State aid, i.e. Articles 106 and 107 TFEU, to compensation for SGEI. The SGEI Framework expires in November 2011, and both the Framework and the Decision prescribe an evaluation of the rules based on a wide consultation. The Commission began this review process already in 2008. In parallel with this Communication, the Commission services are publishing a Report describing the Commission’s practice under the current rules and the main issues arising out of the consultation. The review of the Package must be seen in the context of the Commission’s wider policy objectives in the area of public services. In its Communication “Towards a Single Market Act”3, the Commission undertook (proposal n° 25) to adopt, by 2011, a Communication and a series of measures on services of general interest, underlining that the EU and its Member States must ensure that public services are easier to operate at the appropriate level, adhere to clear financing rules, are of the highest quality and actually accessible to all.

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