State Aid

Last verified on Tuesday 12th January 2021

State Aid: Spain

Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

Ramón y Cajal Abogados

National state aid control - competent authorities

1. Which national authority or body is responsible for the oversight of state aid in your country, in particular the identification of new aid measures and their notification to the European Commission, the monitoring of existing aid measures for compliance with EU state aid rules and decisions, the submission of annual reports on existing aid schemes to the European Commission and cooperation more generally with the European Commission on state aid matters?

Spain

There is no single national authority responsible for all the oversight of state aid in Spain, but several bodies entrusted with different tasks.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, currently through the General Directorate for Coordination of Common Policies and EU General Affairs, centralises the notification of state aid measures to the European Commission. In particular, its Subdirectorate General for Legal and Institutional Affairs advises on the compatibility of state aid measures with EU rules and represents Spain in this notification process. Further, specialist units at regional level also advise local and regional administrations in turn.

The Secretariat of the Inter-Ministerial Commission for Economic Affairs related to the European Union must be informed of any proposed aid measure at least three months in advance of the planned implementation (see Royal Decree 1755/1987, of 23 December 1987, BOE-A-1988-1298).

The Spanish Competition Authority (currently, the Markets and Competition Commission, CNMC) supervises and monitors state aid measures in Spain granted by any public authorities on its own motion or at their request. It is vested with the functions of drafting general and specific reports on state aid frameworks and individual aid, submitting proposals to the Spanish authorities, and requesting information to that end. Regional competition authorities may also produce reports, which are incorporated by the CNMC to its annual report.

The General Intervention Board at the national level, along with its regional and local counterpart authorities, have enforcement powers under the General Subsidies Act, including the power to impose pecuniary and non-pecuniary sanctions and to grant interim measures in the case of certain types of state measures, such as subsidies.

In the context of tender procedures, the contracting authority may reject an abnormally low offer because the tenderer has obtained state aid, unless the tenderer can prove otherwise. In such a case, if the tender procedure is subject to harmonised regulation, it must inform the European Commission.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

2. Does any authority monitor the national legislative process to identify potential aid measures? Does this independent authority have sufficient powers to prevent the legislature or government from adopting aid measures that do not comply with EU state aid rules?

Spain

No Spanish authority has such preventive powers. The CNMC is only empowered to submit proposals.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

3. What are the competences of the national authority responsible for state aid control, and what is the legal basis for these powers in domestic law? Does this authority have the power to grant interim measures in addition to any interim relief that may be available in the national courts?

Spain

The competences of Spanish authorities responsible for state aid control are limited, and they generally lack any enforcement powers, except for the intervention board authorities in the case of subsidies.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

4. Aside from the role played by the European Commission and national courts in enforcing EU state aid rules, does the national authority responsible for state aid control accept complaints made by competitors, other interested parties, or other third parties regarding potentially unlawful and incompatible aid measures?

Spain

In principle, no Spanish authority is vested with such powers.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

5. Does the national authority responsible for state aid regularly cooperate or exchange information with the state aid authorities in other member states? If so, are there formal structures to facilitate this cooperation and information exchange, or does this occur on a purely ad hoc basis? In the context of the covid-19 outbreak, has the national authority responsible for state aid regularly cooperated or exchanged information with the state aid authorities of other member states?

Spain

Based on publicly available information, that does not appear to be the case.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

6. Which body represents your country in state aid proceedings before the EU courts?

Spain

The Spanish government’s Legal Service is generally entrusted with representing Spain in any type of proceedings before the EU courts, including state aid proceedings.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

7. Is there a national register or other central source of data on national aid measures? Are the various state aid reports, complaints, decisions, etc, published?

Spain

Yes.

The Ministry of Treasure, through the General Intervention Board, hosts a national registry of all types of aid granted by any Spanish authority to any person, and provides disaggregated information, publicly available on its website (see https://www.infosubvenciones.es/bdnstrans/es/index). Regional and local authorities have created similar public registries.

Further, the CNMC, as part of its tasks, publishes annual reports on state aid measures, as well as specific reports on its website (see https://www.cnmc.es/ambitos-de-actuacion/promocion-de-la-competencia/ayudas-publicas).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

National substantive and procedural rules

8. Describe any recent developments in substantive or procedural rules under domestic law relating to state aid. Describe also any developments in substantive or procedural rules under domestic law relating to state aid that occurred in the aftermath of the covid-19 outbreak.

Spain

The main recent case law developments concern the ‘regional environmental tax measures’ saga and recovery issues in the context of procedural rights (see question 20).

There are no significant substantive or procedural developments in the context of the covid-19 outbreak, besides the applicable regulations concerning the measures themselves (see questions 59–64).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

9. Is there a specific legislative or administrative scheme under national law relating to the application or enforcement of EU state aid rules?

Spain

In principle, no, and therefore the general administrative rules remain applicable.

However, depending on the type of measure or procedure, specific rules may apply. For instance, in the case of subsidies, the rules under the General Subsidies Act, including a duty to inform the European Commission of any state aid measures, the standstill obligation, and other ex post control mechanisms, apply. In the case of tax measures, the General Taxation Act provides a specific administrative framework for state aid on recovery. And in the case of tender procedures, the contracting authority may have certain informative duties towards the European Commission (see question 1).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

10. Are there national rules or guidelines relating to the implementation of EU state aid rules, in particular EU guidelines? Check in particular any specific implementation related to covid-19 issues such as implementation of positive decisions of the European Commission with respect to your country.

Spain

Yes.

For instance, the Regional Incentives Act, as amended, implements the EU Guidelines on regional state aid. Further, the Spanish Competition Authority published a Methodological Paper for the Assessment of State Aid, summarising EU state aid measures, on 27 July 2016 (see https://www.cnmc.es/file/107238/download).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

11. Are there national rules or guidelines relating to the process of applying for, and the granting of, state support?

Spain

There are no such general rules or guidelines, besides the specific rules depending on the form of the measure.

In this regard, granting authorities operating under state aid schemes generally publish guidance on the legal basis, eligible beneficiaries, details on their scope and purpose, eligible costs, the amount of aid and the procedure on how to apply for support.

In the context of the covid-19 outbreak, and apart from the schemes approved (see questions 59–64), the Ministry of Economy has published several guidelines to clarify the implementation of the applicable frameworks (see https://www.mineco.gob.es/stfls/mineco/economia/ficheros/MarcoNacionalTemporalAyudasCOVID19.pdf and https://www.mineco.gob.es/stfls/mineco/economia/gum/ficheros/NotaaclaratoriamarconacionaltempAyudasCovid19.pdf).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

12. How is the concept of "service of general economic interest" (SGEI) defined on the national level? Did the definition recently lead to disputes, and, if so, how was the dispute adjudicated?

Spain

There is no express definition of SGEI under Spanish law.

However, indirectly, the Spanish Constitution considers that ‘essential resources or services may be restricted by law to the public sector’ and the applicable sectorial regulations address the imposition of ‘public service obligations’ on the corresponding undertakings to ensure the provision of essential services.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

13. Do any studies on national enforcement of EU state aid rules exist? If so, describe the main subjects and results of these studies.

Spain

The Spanish Competition Authority regularly publishes reports on that matter.

Additionally, the European Commission recently published the ‘Study on the enforcement of State aid rules and decisions by national courts’, covering the application of EU state aid rules before member states’ courts, including Spain. The study highlighted the particular approach of Spanish courts to the primacy of EU law and the existence of a legal framework on recovery, as well as the relatively high number of tax cases.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

Role of national courts

14. Do all national courts have jurisdiction to apply state aid rules? Or do certain dedicated courts have specific jurisdiction for state aid cases?

Spain

There are no dedicated courts with specific jurisdiction over state aid cases. Therefore, depending on the type of enforcement, the type of action and the mechanism used to grant the aid, administrative review courts (eg, disputes on granting and recovery orders, state liability) or civil courts (eg, damages actions brought by competitors) may exercise jurisdiction.

In the case of refusal, the refusing court must indicate which type of court would be seised and, in case of disagreement, the Spanish Supreme Court may ultimately determine the competent court.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

15. Can the judgment of a national court on a state aid matter be appealed? If so, what grounds of appeal are available, and which court can hear the appeals? Does an appeal of a recovery order entail an automatic suspension of the obligation to recover unlawful aid (not notified) pending the outcome of the appeal?

Spain

Since there are no dedicated courts, the general procedural rules are applicable. Therefore, judgments rendered by any court of first-instance may be appealed on the grounds of error of law or error of facts, while second-instance courts may extraordinarily be appealed before the Spanish Supreme Court on purely legal grounds, if granted leave to appeal. Final judgments may be in turn appealed to the Spanish Constitutional Court in the case of a breach of fundamental rights.

An appeal of a recovery order does not entail an automatic suspension of the obligation to recover unlawful aid while pending the outcome of the appeal.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

16. Do national courts sometimes confuse the concept of unlawful aid with incompatible aid?

Spain

No, that does not appear to be the case. In fact, such distinction has been noted in the case law of the Spanish Supreme Court (see judgment of 14 June 2017 in case REDTEL, ECLI:ES:TS:2017:2429).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

17. Do national courts sometimes confuse the concept of new aid with existing aid?

Spain

No, that does not appear to be the case.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

18. Do national courts traditionally refer questions regarding the interpretation of EU state aid rules to the Court of Justice? Provide any notable examples of preliminary references made on state aid questions.

Spain

Spanish courts seem reluctant to make referrals to the European Court of Justice unless they have a duty to refer.

In this regard, lower instance courts have indeed made referrals, such as the Basque region’s High Court of Justice (see the Court of Justice’s judgments in joined cases C-428/06 to C-434/06 Unión General de Trabajadores de la Rioja) and the Valencia region’s High Court of Justice (see the Court of Justice’s judgment in case C-387/92 Banco Exterior de España). Referrals from lower courts are scarce, but a few examples may be drawn, as when the Ferrol Contentious-Administrative Court referred a question concerning a tax exemption in respect of state-owned land made available to a private company whose capital was wholly publicly owned (see Court of Justice’s judgment in case C-522/13 Ministerio de Defensa and Navantia).

Indeed, most referrals have been brought by the Spanish Supreme Court (see Court of Justice’s judgments in cases C-105/18 Unesa, C-275/13 Elcogás, C-222/07 Uteca and C-71/04 Xunta de Galicia). Notably, in Unesa, the Supreme Court requested a preliminary ruling regarding a tax levying the use of inland waters to produce electrical energy, as to whether such tax constituted state aid and, in particular, whether it discriminated some hydroelectric production companies in favour of hydroelectric plants located in certain territories and electricity producers from other sources.

Recently, the Court of Justice rejected the admissibility of the referral brought by the Contentious-Administrative Court on the grounds that it was not a court or tribunal in the sense of EU law (see the Court of Justice’s judgment of 21 January 2020 in case C-274/14 Banco de Santander).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

19. Do national courts use the possibilities offered by article 29 of Regulation 2015/1589 (Procedural Regulation) providing for the amicus curiae conditions in state aid matters? Has the European Commission submitted written observations to national courts and asked authorisation to appear in court hearings?

Spain

Based on publicly available information, that does not seem to be the case. Particularly, the European Commission’s website does not refer to the use of such possibilities in Spain (see https://ec.europa.eu/competition/court/overview_en.html).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

20. Describe recent developments regarding state aid cases before national courts.

Spain

Most judgments recently rendered by Spanish courts between 2019 and 2020 have involved regional environmental tax measures imposed on department stores. These cases stem from the Spanish Supreme Court’s referral on whether certain exemptions to regional environmental taxes constituted state aid (see Court of Justice’s judgment in case C-233/16 ANGED, among several others). Following the subsequent ruling of the Spanish Supreme Court, settling the matter, the regional administrative review courts and later the Spanish Supreme Court itself dismissed the appeals brought by the beneficiaries against the liquidation executed by the Spanish tax authorities.

Further, a relevant set of recent cases involved appeals against measures adopted by the Spanish authorities to recover illegal aid. The outcome of these cases may be explained by a combination of the lack of a general recovery framework, the obligation by Spanish authorities to immediately execute the European Commission’s recovery decisions under EU law, and the beneficiaries’ right of defence. Accordingly, the Spanish Supreme Court held that beneficiaries should be, in principle, afforded the same level of protection as in any other equivalent national proceedings, including the right to be heard, and a breach of such right would lead to the annulment of the act of the Spanish authorities implementing the recovery order (see judgments of 25 January 2017, case Ros Casares, ECLI:ES:TS:2017:198, and of 25 May 2017, case Habitide Technologies, ECLI:ES:TS:2017:2161).

Lastly, the Spanish Supreme Court recently delivered a judgment concerning the consequences under Spanish law of the opening of an investigation by the European Commission under article 108 TFEU, namely, in respect of recovery orders (see judgment of 29 January 2020, case Retevisión, ECLI:ES:TS:2020:221). In this regard, the Spanish Supreme Court settled that (1) the opening of such an in-depth investigation empowers both the European Commission and the Spanish authorities to take any and all appropriate measures to ensure the recovery of the illegal aid, unless such recovery contravenes any general principle of EU law; and (2) in the case that the corresponding European Commission’s decision declaring the existence of unlawful state aid has been annulled due to formal defects, thus enabling the European Commission to reopen the investigation, Spanish courts cannot take irreversible measures aimed at the immediate and effective enforcement of the annulled decision, but may, if appropriate, adopt any interim measures to ensure the effective compliance with the subsequent European Commission decision.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

21. Under national procedural rules, can a government measure be challenged directly in court on the grounds of illegal state aid, or do applicants first have to go through a preliminary administrative review procedure? If so, describe the steps involved in this procedure.

Spain

Government measures can be challenged directly before the administrative review courts on the grounds of unlawful state aid.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

22. Under national procedural rules, who has legal standing to challenge a government measure in court on the grounds of illegal state aid?

Spain

There is no particular regulation on legal standing in state aid cases, and therefore general procedural rules apply in this regard.

Other public authorities different from the granting authority may also, where applicable, have legal standing to challenge a government measure that is contrary to EU state aid rules.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

23. Can a national authority argue in domestic court proceedings that a particular measure contains unlawful state aid, or are there any procedural bars to doing so?

Spain

Spanish authorities are, in principle, not barred from arguing unlawful state aid in respect of a particular measure (see Supreme Court’s judgment of 2 March 2015 in case Elcogás, ECLI:ES:TS:2015:747), even in the absence of a European Commission decision.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

24. What are the limitation periods under national procedural rules for a party seeking to invoke unlawfulness under state aid rules in domestic court proceedings?

Spain

EU limitation periods prevail in proceedings concerning the unlawfulness of state aid measures before Spanish courts.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

25. Does any provision of national law prevent an individual with standing from bringing state aid proceedings in the domestic courts concurrently with an investigation by the European Commission (eg, if the individual has complained to the European Commission in parallel, or the European Commission has started an investigation on its own initiative)?

Spain

In principle, not.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

26. Under which circumstances will a national court stay proceedings as to the existence of state aid pending a European Commission investigation?

Spain

Spanish courts may generally stay proceedings if the European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation into the concerned state measure. In that case, however, the courts may adopt interim measures to secure a potential favourable outcome for the claimant pursuant to article 108(3) TFEU (eg, by ordering the beneficiary to deposit the funds obtained from the application of the state aid measure in a blocked bank account) (see judgment of the Supreme Court of 17 July 2014 in Astra Ibérica, ECLI:ES:TS:2014:3025).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

27. What are the consequences for national courts if the European Commission has already come to the preliminary conclusion in its opening decision that the measure constitutes incompatible state aid?

Spain

In such a case, Spanish courts are not bound to the preliminary findings of the European Commission (see judgment of the Audiencia Nacional of 11 April 2000 in ANALIR, ECLI:ES:AN:2000:2446), but they shall be nonetheless considered in the context of the adoption of interim measures (see question 26).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

28. How do national courts react to the Deutsche Lufthansa case? By referring matters to the European Commission (for amicus curiae support) or to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for a preliminary ruling under article 267 TFEU?

Spain

We are not aware of any Spanish case having considered the Deutsche Lufthansa case.

Hypothetically, and based on the practice of Spanish courts to date, a referral to the Court of Justice would not be likely expected, and a referral to the European Commission would be even rarer.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

29. What is the burden of proof in state aid cases before national courts?

Spain

There are no specific rules under Spanish law, in principle, on the burden of proof in state aid cases, and therefore general procedural rules apply. Thus, in administrative review proceedings, the government measure generally enjoys a presumption of legality and the claimant bears the burden of proof of the illegality. However, as confirmed by the case law, a decision of the European Commission declaring the unlawfulness of the aid binds Spanish courts on that point. In what concerns damages actions, the claimant bears the burden of proof of the existence of harm and the causal nexus.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

30. In light of the EU law obligation on national courts to protect the rights of individuals affected by the unlawful implementation of state aid, what are the requirements under national law for a plaintiff seeking interim measures in the courts, in particular to prevent the grant of aid? In what form and under what circumstances can interim relief be granted?

Spain

There are no specific rules under Spanish law on the standing of affected individuals to seek interim relief, and therefore general procedural rules apply. This means that such a person must establish a prima facie case on the merits and risk of harm, and the court must also assess all interests at stake, including any possible serious impairment of the general interest.

Further, Spanish courts have acknowledged the particular importance of interim measures in the context of state aid proceedings, as noted in the European Commission’s Notice, especially in the sense of adopting appropriate measures (eg, placement of the funds in an escrow) where there is an ongoing investigation by the European Commission and the court opts to await the outcome on the compatibility assessment (see question 26). Interim relief may be requested and granted before the measure has been implemented (ie, to prevent the aid from being granted) or after the measure has been awarded (in such case, the court may, as noted before, inter alia, order the grants be held in escrow).

Lastly, the Spanish Supreme Court recently held that interim measures adopted in respect of illegal state aid measures (eg, framework agreements) may be extended to implementing acts that have not been previously challenged (see judgment of 11 October 2018, case Astra Ibérica, ECLI:ES:TS:2018:3628, among others).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

31. What remedies are available to a national court if it determines that a non-notified measure contained state aid?

Spain

Spanish courts may declare the nullity of such a non-notified measure, and subsequently order the recovery of the aid along with the corresponding interest.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

32. In light of the EU law requirement that national courts must, in principle, order the full recovery of unlawful state aid from a beneficiary, are there any domestic law provisions that may hinder a national court from ordering the recovery of non-notified state aid? Do national courts set aside such domestic law provisions as required by the Court of Justice’s case law?

Spain

In principle, there are no such impediments.

However, considering that the lack of specific regulation on state aid proceedings may be in conflict with procedural rights (see question 20), it cannot be ruled out that certain hurdles may arise in the future.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

33. Would the national court necessarily declare a guarantee invalid if it secures a loan constituting aid and was granted in breach of article 108(3) TFEU? Does it make a difference if the only aid beneficiary is the borrower and not the lender?

Spain

We are not aware of any Spanish case having considered that matter.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

34. How can a competitor of the beneficiary or other affected third parties claim compensation from the authority granting the state aid for damages caused by the aid? Explain the steps involved in bringing such an action for damages. Explain the steps involved in bringing such an action for damages and how national courts have applied the criteria of the relevant EU case law.

Spain

A competitor or any other affected third party may, in principle, bring a damages action against the granting authority based on EU law, in light of the Francovich and Brasserie du Pêcheur case law.

That person may alternatively bring a damages action under the general Spanish rules on state liability. In such a case, in addition to the proof of harm, the claimant must prove the link between the harm and the normal or abnormal functioning of public services (except in cases of force majeure or where the individual is legally obliged to bear the damages).

In either case, damages actions may be brought independently, or together with the action for the annulment of the measure implementing state aid. However, if the damages action follows a decision declaring the illegality of the state aid measure, it is necessary to wait for confirmation of the unlawfulness by the EU courts.

Generally, such damages actions face notable hurdles in respect of the proof of quantum and causation. The Audiencia Nacional in one instance dismissed such an action because the state aid measure granted to the beneficiary, despite being found illegal, bore no economic effect on the claimant’s activity (see judgment of 21 May 2002, Fletamento de Baleares, ECLI:ES:AN:2002:3102). Further, the Supreme Court also once dismissed oa damages action, although the circumstances were rare, since it concerned a claim brought by the beneficiary, who argued that he had paid more under the applicable tax regime – deemed state aid by the European Commission – than what he would have paid under the normal tax regime applied to the majority of competitors (see judgment of 8 February 2019 in Real Madrid Club de Fútbol, ECLI:ES:TS:2019:359).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

35. How can a third party claim compensation from the member state for damage caused by failure to respect the standstill obligation?

Spain

A third party may, in principle, claim compensation from the Spanish authorities, providing that the relevant requirements under EU law and Spanish law on state liability are met (see question 34).

However, we are not aware of any Spanish case having considered that matter.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

36. Under national law, can a third party bring damages actions against the beneficiary?

Spain

A third party may, in principle, claim compensation from the aid beneficiary pursuant to the applicable tort law rules under either the Civil Code or the Unfair Competition Act, providing that, in addition to the requirements on the proof of harm and causation, negligence is found.

However, we are not aware of any Spanish case having considered that matter.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

37. Under national law, how can a beneficiary bring damages actions against the member state as per the SFEI case law of the Court of Justice for having unlawfully granted aid? How do national courts avoid the risk of circumvention of EU state aid rules?

Spain

Spanish courts are reluctant to award damages against the state for having unlawfully granted aid, as that would amount to a new granting of aid and thus a circumvention of EU state aid rules (see the Spanish Supreme Court’s judgments of 18 January 2012, ECLI:ES:TS:2012:266, and of 14 November 2019 in case Celsa, ECLI:ES:TS:2019:3667).

Further, the Spanish Supreme Court has held that the repayment of state aid could not be seen as mere monetary compensation, but as a mechanism to wipe out the competitive disadvantage caused to other companies that were not granted any aid. Consistently, it concluded that the threshold of wrongful damage which is required to grant compensation for damages under Spanish law was not met in this case (see judgment of 5 September 2018 in case Helados y Postres, ECLI:ES:TS:2018:3097).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

Consequences of violation of state aid rules

38. What are the consequences of a violation of EU state aid rules for the validity and enforceability of the aid measure under national law? Are the consequences the same for unlawful aid that was not notified to the European Commission as for aid that the European Commission has ultimately determined as incompatible with the internal market?

Spain

The consequences of the finding of unlawfulness of the aid are, in principle, the nullity of the aid measure concerned.

If the aid measure is unlawfully implemented and later declared incompatible, Spanish courts must order the recovery of the measure along with any accrued interest.

Conversely, if the granting process is found to be unlawful but the aid is subsequently declared compatible with EU Law by the European Commission, Spanish courts will order the recovery of illegality interest, but will have discretion as to whether the aid will be recovered or not.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

39. What are the consequences of a violation of EU state aid rules for the validity of a government regulation or contract containing the aid measure, and for subsequent regulations or contracts linked to the aid measure? Are the consequences the same for unlawful aid that was not notified to the European Commission as for aid that the Commission has ultimately determined to be incompatible with the internal market?

Spain

If a government regulation or contract is found to be unlawful, it must be annulled, as confirmed by the Spanish Supreme Court (see judgment of 7 February 2006 in Construcción Naval en Galicia, ECLI: ES:TS:2006:249), and a subsequent declaration of compatibility does not remedy the illegality of such measure. Further, in principle, the nullity of the said regulation or contract extends to subsequent regulations or contracts linked to the aid measure concerned.

If the government regulation or contract containing the aid is initially deemed lawful but is later found incompatible, it may be annulled by the Spanish authorities. In the case of administrative acts, Spanish authorities may request that a court find them null and void (eg, when the granting authority refuses to declare it null and void, and the action is brought by a different authority).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

Enforcement by the European Commission

40. Describe any major state aid investigations opened by the Commission against your country over the past 12 months. State whether these investigations were specific to your country or part of a broader investigation into several member states.

Spain

No in-depth investigations have been opened by the European Commission against Spain over the past 12 months, according to publicly available information.

Shortly before 2020, however, the European Commission opened an investigation into Air Nostrum’s fleet renewal (see decision of 28 October 2019 in case SA.50707). The case arose from a complaint brought in 2018 by a competitor of the regional airline Air Nostrum against the alleged intention of the government of the Valencia Region to financially support Air Nostrum’s fleet renewal programme, through a direct grant of €9 million, spread over three years. Following the opening of the investigation and Air Nostrum’s decision to waive the aid for the renewal of its fleet, the European Commission closed the investigation (see decision of 17 November 2020).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

41. Has the European Commission suggested appropriate measures concerning existing aid measures in your country over the past 12 months?

Spain

No appropriate measures concerning existing aid measures in Spain seem to have been suggested over the past 12 months, according to publicly available information.

Shortly before 2020, however, the European Commission recalled that Spain had accepted the suggested measures within the framework of its investigation into certain corporate tax exemption of port authorities in Spain (see decision of 15 November 2019 in case SA.38397).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

42. Has the European Commission ever opened specific investigations against your country following a sector inquiry?

Spain

Yes, according to publicly available information, the European Commission has opened specific investigations against Spain following a sector inquiry in the past.

In this regard, the European Commission initiated case SA.47912 following its sector inquiry on capacity mechanisms. On 27 November 2017, the European Commission opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether Spain’s environmental incentive for coal power plants was in line with state aid rules. This investigation dealt with the scheme introduced by the Spanish authorities in 2007 that was aimed at supporting the installation of new sulphur oxide filters in existing coal power plants. These filters were supposed to reduce sulphur oxide emissions from those plants below certain levels. Since 2007, 14 coal power plants have benefitted from the scheme and received more than €440 million total in public support. Payments were expected to continue until 2020. The European Commission was concerned that this scheme, which had not been notified as state aid, would merely impose on its beneficiaries the implementation of already mandatory environmental EU standards. If so, the scheme would not actually have any environmental incentive effect and the financial support may breach a long-standing principle of state aid rules, namely that member states may not grant state aid to companies to meet mandatory environmental EU standards. The European Commission considers that this would go against the ‘polluter pays’ principle and give the relevant coal power plants an unfair competitive advantage over other forms of power generation.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

43. Has your country ever been subject to an injunction by the European Commission to suspend or provisionally recover aid under article 13 of Regulation 2015/1589?

Spain

Yes, according to publicly available information, Spain has been subject to injunctions by the European Commission in the past.

Spain was subject to a suspension injunction following an in-depth investigation concerning certain tax aid granted to Ramondín (see decision of 30 April 1999 in case C 22/99).

More recently, Spain was also subject to a suspension injunction in the context of an investigation concerning tax amortisation of financial goodwill for foreign shareholding acquisitions (see decision of 17 July 2013 in case SA.35550).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

44. Has your country ever been subject to an infringement procedure under article 108(2) TFEU and article 260 TFEU?

Spain

Yes.

Regarding proceedings brought under article 108.2 TFEU, the Court of Justice found on several occasions that Spain failed to comply with the European Commission’s recovery obligations. Notable examples include the case of certain loan guarantees, loans at non-market conditions, non-refundable subsidies and interest subsidies granted to the Magefesa Group (see judgment of 2 July 2002 case C-499/99, ECLI:EU:C:2002:408), tax frameworks applied in the provinces of Álava and Guipúzcoa (see judgment of 20 September 2007 in case C-177/06, ECLI:EU:C:2007:538), and certain specific tax measures implemented in the Basque Region (see judgment of 14 December 2006 in joined cases C-485/03 to C-490/03, ECLI:EU:C:2006:777).

As to infringement procedures for failure to fulfil obligations under article 260 TFEU, the Court of Justice has also ruled against Spain. In particular, in connection with the above-mentioned cases, the Court of Justice sided with the European Commission and thus imposed penalties on Spain to ensure recovery, which included both daily penalty payments or lump sum payments (see judgments of 11 December 2012 in case C-610/10, ECLI:EU:C:2012:781, and of 13 May 2014 in case C‑184/11, ECLI:EU:C:2014:316).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

45. Has the European Commission ever undertaken on-site state aid monitoring visits based on article 27 Regulation 2015/1589 (previously article 22 of Regulation 659/1999)? How were the visits carried out? What measures were taken to assist the officials and experts carrying out the visit?

Spain

We are not aware of any such on-site state aid monitoring visits in Spain, on the basis of publicly available information.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

Recovery of state aid

Recovery of state aid

46. Which national authority orders the recovery of state aid following a European Commission decision, a judgment of the Court of Justice, or a national court judgment?

Spain

The national authority responsible for ordering the recovery of state aid in that case is, in principle, the granting authority.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

47. What procedural or administrative actions are contemplated in the national law for the recovery of unlawful or incompatible state aid?

Spain

There are specific administrative rules for the recovery of state aid in the context of subsidies and tax aid, but there are no specific rules for other types of measures, in which case general administrative procedural rules apply.

Regarding subsidies, it is expressly provided that, following a decision on unlawful or incompatible state aid, such measures must be automatically revoked and subsequently reimbursed. While the beneficiary is given the opportunity to return the aid on its own motion, the competent authority is empowered to forcibly order recovery.

Regarding tax aid, the General Taxation Act provides an exhaustive section for the recovery of state aid, aimed at avoiding any undue delays.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

48. What actions are available to the national recovering authority seeking to force an unwilling beneficiary to refund the unlawful and incompatible state aid?

Spain

Spanish authorities are empowered, once warned, to forcibly order the recovery of unlawful and incompatible state aid under the general administrative rules, including the seizure of assets.

In the case of subsidies, Spanish authorities are expressly authorised to enforce guarantees against the beneficiary or to seize its assets, which may in turn be sold or assigned to the authority to meet the debt. This can be carried out without court intervention. This may be reasonably applied analogously to other types of state aid measures.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

49. Can an individual with standing bring an action in the national courts for the purpose of: challenging the validity of the national recovery order implementing the European Commission’s recovery decision; or suspending the national recovery order pending a final decision either on the validity of the national recovery order itself, or on the validity of the European Commission’s recovery decision?

Spain

Generally, an individual with legal standing may not oppose the national recovery order with the purpose of circumventing EU law, assuming that the validity of the European Commission’s decision has not been challenged.

Exceptionally, however, and as noted earlier in connection with recent case law developments (see question 20), such an individual may put forward that the domestic recovery order breaches certain procedural defence rights, insofar as such an objection is based on formal grounds and does not amount to a challenge of the validity of the European Commission’s decision.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

50. Can third parties with standing obtain a mandatory order from the court that forces the relevant national authority to recover funds from a beneficiary of incompatible state aid where the former has failed to implement a recovery decision by the European Commission?

Spain

In principle, yes.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

51. What defences by beneficiaries against recovery have been accepted by national authorities or courts?

Spain

Most defences by beneficiaries against recovery have not been successful.

Beneficiaries have often relied on the concept of legitimate expectations to oppose recovery, but this argument has been rejected by the Spanish courts, consistently with the Court of Justice’s case law, on the grounds that aid beneficiaries may not, in principle, entertain a legitimate expectation that the aid is lawful unless it has been granted in compliance with the established procedure, insofar as any diligent economic agent should generally be capable of determining whether such procedure has been followed (see Supreme Court’s judgment of 9 February 2012 in case Gas Natural, ECLI:ES:TS:2012:581).

Further, beneficiaries also put forward legal certainty as a defence, but that argument has similarly been dismissed (see Supreme Court’s judgment of 23 September 2009 in case Unión Fenosa, ECLI:ES:TS:2009:5854).

Lastly, beneficiaries have occasionally relied on their bankruptcy situation in order not to comply with the recovery order. In this regard, although an earlier judgment of the Supreme Court found that state aid credits must be given the status of a credit from the public authorities, and thus be treated similarly in the context of insolvency proceedings (see judgment of 7 July 2008 in case Mediterráneo Técnica Textil, ECLI:ES:TS:2008:3973), the Alicante Provincial Court recently upheld that state aid credits fall outside the scope of insolvency law (ie, they must be given priority and be immediately recovered, regardless of the established rules on credit preference) (see judgment of 28 November 2017 in case Elche Club de Fútbol, ECLI:ES:APA:2017:3109).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

52. What is the situation under national law if recovery was ordered by a national court owing to the violation of the standstill obligation but the aid is later declared compatible with the internal market by the European Commission?

Spain

In the event that a measure is found unlawful by a national court, but subsequently declared compatible by the European Commission, it can be reasonably expected that Spanish courts would not necessarily order the recovery, even if they may be entitled to do so, but only the illegality interest accrued.

However, we are not aware of any Spanish case having considered that matter.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

53. How do national courts apply the CELF I case law (Case C-199/06)?

Spain

We are not aware of any Spanish case having considered the CELF I case law.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

54. How do national courts handle cases where the European Commission has not yet decided on compatibility?

Spain

Spanish courts are reasonably expected to wait for the outcome of the European Commission’s decision on compatibility.

In this context, however, Spanish courts are prone to applying interim measures (eg, the placement of funds in an escrow) in the case of unlawful aid, in view of the principles under the European Commission’s Notice on the enforcement of state aid law by national courts.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

55. Are the recovery interests paid by a beneficiary tax deductible under national tax rules?

Spain

There is no specific rule on the tax deductibility of recovery interests. There is a mere remission to EU legislation in the case of recovery of interest under the General Taxation Act.

By way of reference, in the case of late payment interests, which contain similar features, the practice of the Spanish Directorate General of Taxation’s supports their deductibility, although Tribunal Económico Administrativo Central and the Spanish Supreme Court hold the opposing view.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

56. Is aid that was granted in the form of a fiscal measure always recovered through a new tax assessment, or do the national authorities use the freedom of choice under EU law to recover through the easiest available and most efficient method, even if not fiscal?

Spain

Aid granted in the form of a fiscal measure is indeed recovered through a new tax assessment, according to the general taxation rules under Spanish law.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

Main areas of state aid

57. Which sectors have received the highest amounts of aid in the past five years? Provide an update relating to covid-19 state aid, in particular by distinguishing guarantee schemes – referring to any statistics on the activation rates – from grants or recapitalisations, or other measures more related to R&D or the health sector.

Spain

According to the latest European Commission’s state aid scoreboard 2019 (see http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/scoreboard/index_en.html), which includes aid expenditure made by member states until 31 December 2018 falling under the scope of article 107(1) TFEU, Spain spent most state aid in the non-agricultural sectors over the last five available years (2014–2018). This data excludes aid to railways.

By disaggregating into main policy objectives, as of 2018, most Spanish non-agricultural aid was granted to ‘social support to individual customers’ (0.09 per cent of GDP, €1,081.5 million), ‘promotion of export and internationalisation (0.075 per cent of GDP, €904.3, relating to the Spanish goodwill schemes), and ‘environmental protection including energy savings’ (0.058 per cent of GDP, or €698.7 million), all of which saw a significant increase (and even multiplied) since 2014. This was followed by aid granted to ‘research and development including innovation’, which remained consistent throughout the 2014–2018 period, even if slightly below 2014 figures (0.03 per cent of GDP, or €365.9 in 2018). Aid granted to ‘regional development’ remained relatively high, through it dropped significantly since 2014 (0.018 per cent of GDP €221 million in 2018).

Separately, agricultural aid, which remained largely constant in terms of GDP between 2014 and 2018 (0.051 per cent), nevertheless increased in total terms (€526.5 to 618.1 million) as the total amount of state aid granted in Spain also increased.

Further, the Spanish Competition Authority (CNMC) regularly publishes an annual report on state aid granted. The latest CNMC report, published in 2019 in respect of 2018 data, and based on the European Commission’s scoreboard, nevertheless only provides a distinction between aid granted to the non-financial sector and the financial sector. No new aid to the financial sector was granted since 2018, and therefore such figures are largely insignificant in the available 2013–2017 period.

Lastly, there are no exhaustive reports or databases on state aid granted in the context of the covid-19 outbreak yet. In view of the recent European Commission’s decisions involving Spain during 2020 in this context (see questions 59 to 63), the Spanish schemes are generally open to all sectors, and therefore it will be necessary to wait for ex-post assessment to provide an update on this point. However, on the basis of publicly available information, the first companies to adhere to the Spanish Recapitalisation Fund thus far belong to the airways, tourism and industrial sectors, largely affected by the severe disruption of their activities over the course of the pandemic. The sectors most affected by the covid-19 outbreak comprise a significant part of Spain’s GDP, which might explain the general scope of such measures.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

58. Provide information on the amounts of state aid paid out under approved state aid schemes and individually approved state aid for the past five years.

Spain

The European Commission’s 2019 scoreboard cited in question 57 provides no clear-cut distinction between approved state aid schemes and individually approved state aid over the past five years. Its report puts forward that state aid schemes are highly heterogenous in terms of expenditure size across member states. In the case of Spain, as of 2018, breaking down by policy objective, ‘promotion of export and internationalisation’ remains the largest scheme (almost all state aid granted under this category forms part of a scheme), followed by ‘social support to individual customers’ (slightly over half the total amount of the state aid under this category forms part of a scheme) and ‘environmental protection including energy savings’ (nearly everything forms part of a scheme).

The latest CNMC’s annual report provides no disaggregated information regarding state aid schemes and individual measures.

Further, both the European Commission’s scoreboard and the CNMC’s 2019 report do show disaggregated information regarding notified measures and exempt measures. According to the European Commission, in terms of spending, in non-agricultural state aid, exempt measures increased steadily since 2014 (0.188 per cent of GDP, or €2.257 billion in 2018), while notified measures were on decline until 2016, but they have been on the rise ever since (0.149 per cent of GDP, or €1.788.7 in 2018).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

Covid-19 state aid measures

59. Provide information on the legal basis (article 107(2)(b), (3)(b) or (3)(c) TFEU?) chosen for aid measures and the type of aid granted during the covid-19 outbreak.

Spain

The European Commission has approved a series of wide-ranging schemes notified by Spain in the context of the covid-19 outbreak. These have been adopted and found compatible pursuant to articles 107(3)(b) and/or 107(3)(c) TFEU, considering the European Commission’s Temporary Framework for State aid measures to support the economy in the current covid-19 outbreak (the ’Temporary Framework’).

The first of such measures (the Guarantee Schemes, see decision of 24 March 2020 in case SA.56803, as later amended by decision of 5 August 2020), comprised one guarantee scheme of up to 80 per cent of the loan amount destined for small and medium-sized enterprises and self-employed workers, and another guarantee scheme of up to 70 per cent of the loan amount for all enterprises, including large ones. The combined budget reached up to €60 billion, after the corresponding amendment. The legal basis for the Guarantee Schemes was article 107(3)(b) TFEU, considering section 2 of the European Commission’s Temporary Framework.

The second measure (the National Temporary Framework, see decision of 2 April 2020 in case SA.56851, as later amended by decisions of 22 October 2020 and 11 December 2020), consisted initially of an umbrella scheme covering direct grants, repayable advances, tax or payments advantages, guarantees on loans and subsidised interest rates for loans. The provisional budget was estimated at €3.65 billion. The chosen legal basis was article 107(3)(2) TFEU.

The third measure (the Second National Temporary Framework, see decision of 24 April 2020 in case SA.57019, as later amended by a decision of 23 December 2020) consisted of an additional umbrella scheme aimed at providing support through (1) aid for relevant research and development projects, (2) investment aid for testing and scaling up infrastructures, (3) investment aid for the production of covid-19 related products, (4) aid in the form of a deferral of payment of taxes or social security contributions and (5) aid in the form of wage subsidies for employees to avoid lay-offs during the covid-19 outbreak. The budget was estimated at €3.5 million and the legal bases were both articles 107(3)(b) and 107(3)(c) TFEU.

The Second National Temporary Framework amended the Temporary National Framework and provided the conditions for the cumulation of them both.
The fourth relevant measure (the Spanish Recapitalisation Fund, see the decision of 31 July 2020, in case SA.57659) consisted of the creation of a state-run debt and capital support scheme aimed at strategic enterprises in Spain, which was realised by means of hybrid capital instruments, equity instruments or subordinated loans. The budget comprised up to €10 billion of extraordinary credit financed by state funds. The Spanish Recapitalisation Fund was adopted under article 107(3)(b) TFEU.

Further, and apart from the scope of the European Commission’s Temporary Framework, Spain notified, and the European Commission subsequently approved, another measure consisting of a guarantee scheme for undertakings with composition agreements in the context of insolvency proceedings (see decision of 20 November 2020 in case SA.59045). The measure, as channelled through the state budget, provided for a maximum of €2.5 billion for guarantees of new financing granted by financial entities and €50 million for guarantees of notes issued on the Alternative Fixed-Income Market (MARF). This measure was adopted under article 107(2)(b) TFEU.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

60. Provide information on any state aid measures granted by your country to undertakings in difficulty (within the EU definition) during the covid-19 outbreak but which were excluded from the Covid-19 Temporary Framework because they were in difficulty before 31 December 2019.

Spain

The guarantee scheme for undertakings with composition agreements (see question 59) did not expressly exclude the granting of aid to undertakings in difficulty.

In this regard, the Spanish government justified the reasons for notifying this guarantee scheme outside the scope of the Temporary Framework (see the Ministry of Economy’s decision of 25 November 2020, BOE-A-2020-14964) by explaining that several undertakings facing insolvency proceedings, which had been complying with their obligations under the corresponding composition agreement during the insolvency proceedings and should therefore be entitled to liquidity measures following the covid-19 outbreak as well, were excluded from the measures adopted under the Temporary Framework following the strict definition of ‘undertakings in difficulty’.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

61. Provide information on any recapitalisation measures introduced under the Covid-19 Temporary Framework.

Spain

The European Commission approved the Spanish Recapitalisation Fund (see our response to question 59). Concretely, such a recapitalisation measure consisted of the creation of the legal entity ‘Fund to Support the Solvency of Strategic Companies’ through the Spanish public company Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (SEPI) to review and grant aid.

According to publicly available information, thus far several large undertakings such as Globalia, Celsa, Duro Felguera and Tubos Reunidos have requested aid from the Recapitalisation Fund, along with many others that advanced that they would request it throughout 2021.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

62. Provide information on any aid measures that did not require notification, such as no aid measures or de minimis aid, in the context of the covid-19 outbreak.

Spain

Aid measures not requiring notification (no aid measures or de minimis aid) have been granted by Spanish authorities in the context of the covid-19 outbreak. Such aid measures have generally been adopted by the Spanish regional authorities, in view of the division of powers between state and regional entities in Spain.

Information on such measures is, however, not readily available, as there is neither a nationwide nor a regional list of them, and therefore one must check every official journal of the Spanish regions to identify such measures.

By way of example, and among many others, the Madrid region adopted a series of schemes to assist street vendors (see order of 18 June 2020, BOCM 160) and small and medium enterprises (see agreement of 7 October 2020, BOCM 246), and the Andalusia region adopted a scheme to provide certain financial assistance (see Decree-Act of 5 May 2020, BOJA 23).

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

63. Provide information on any possible litigation before your national courts with respect to potential unlawful state aid granted within the covid-19 outbreak.

Spain

At this moment, there is no publicly available information on any litigation followed before Spanish courts within the context of the covid-19 outbreak.

Given the scale of the measures granted, even if adopted in the form of a general framework, it cannot be ruled out that lawsuits filed before the Spanish courts will take place following the implementation of the aforementioned aid schemes. For instance, Ryanair already challenged the Commission’s decision in case SA.57659 (the Spanish Recapitalisation Fund) and announced a series of actions against state aid measures granted to other airlines in the covid-19 context. Therefore, it is reasonable to think that similar actions will follow suit before Spanish courts in the upcoming months.

Answer contributed by Pedro Suárez, Javier Pérez Fernández and Pedro Suárez Fernández

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