State Aid 2017

Last verified on Wednesday 21st February 2018

Belgium

Annabelle Lepièce
CMS Belgium

    National state aid control - competent authorities

  1. 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? 

  2. In Belgium, there is no dedicated authority responsible for the oversight of national state aid as such.

    The Federal state, the Regions and the Communities are responsible within their own jurisdiction.

    Therefore, each authority handles its own notification of state aid to the European Commission or responds to formal requests of the European Commission on alleged illegal aids. All formal communications of the Belgian authorities to the European Commission go through the Permanent Representation of Belgium to the EU.

  3. 2.

    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? 

  4. The Federal and Regional authorities do not enjoy such investigatory and enforcement powers. 

  5. 3.

    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 illegal aid measures? 

  6. National authorities are not competent as such to handle state aid complaints made by competitors or by interested parties as it is a competence of the European Commission. Nevertheless, competitors may seize the national judges based on the direct effect of article 108, § 3, of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU that imposes the obligation of notification of all projects of aids. Those legal actions are rare but they do occur in Belgium.

  7. 4.

    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?

  8. As mentioned here above, there exists no national state aids authority in Belgium. Cooperation and exchange of information may occur on an informal basis between federal and regional authorities with other member states.

  9. 5.

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

  10. The Permanent Representation of Belgium to the EU is the authority that formally represents Belgium in state aid proceedings before the European Commission but it does not have any specific investigatory power such the power of injunction or to impose a fine.

  11. 6.

    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?

  12. All public authorities must publish the information on the aids they grant according to the obligation of transparency imposed by EU state aid regulation. However, there is no central national register on state aid.

  13. 7.

    Describe any recent developments in substantive or procedural rules under domestic law relating to state aid.

  14. The recent national jurisprudence in Belgium concerns different aspects of state aid issues: the recovery of illegal aids, the illegality of aids outside any European Commission’s investigation or request of a preliminary ruling before the Court of Justice of the EU.

    For instance, Brussels South Charleroi Airport (BSCA) challenged before both the Council of State and the judicial tribunal the decisions of the Walloon Region and Sowaer to recover the aid that was the object of the decision of the Commission of 31 October 2014. In a judgment of 27 November 2015, the Council of State declared itself incompetent for the suspension and annulation of a letter of the Walloon Minister in charge of airports addressed to BSCA. The same day, a similar judgment was held on a suspension claim towards the formal notice addressed by SOWAER, the public owner of the infrastructure to BSCA. The Tribunal of First Instance of Namur rendered on 11 October 2016 a first judgment for interim relief considering that the matter was not urgent. It assesses now the merits of the case.

    In a judgment of 19 October 2012, the Court of Appeal of Brussels assessed whether a Commission decision stating that a public guarantee constituted an illegal and incompatible aids in favour of Forges de Clabecq affected the validity of the loans that were covered by this guarantee. In this case, the Court of Appeal considered that the guarantee did not constitute the determining mobile of the loans, which were never as such put in question by the Commission. Therefore, the loans were not void.

    In 2013, the Council of State requested the Constitutional Court’s judgment on the Arco case and more precisely on the public guarantee granted to the Arco cooperatives in the light of the principle of non-discrimination. In this case, the Constitutional Court referred in 2015 six questions to the Court of Justice of the EU for preliminary rulings. Meanwhile, the European Commission had declared the Arco guarantee illegal and incompatible. The Court rendered its judgment on the questions submitted by the Constitutional Court on 21 December 2016. First, it stated that the Directive 94/19/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 1994 on deposit-guarantee did not impose on member states the obligation to adopt a scheme to guarantee shares in recognised cooperatives operating in the financial sector such as the Arco one. Furthermore, the Court validated the Commission decision of 2014.

    Regarding the impact of the illegality of an aid on the validity of a statutory act, the Constitutional Court held in a judgment of 7 November 2013 in which it stated that due to the primary of European law, it had to annul certain dispositions of the Flemish housing code as it granted illegal aids.

    Another case, which is currently being handled by the Tribunal of First Instance of Brussels, concerns the public subsidies granted by the Brussels Region of the public body in charge of collecting and disposal of waste. Private recycling undertakings are challenging this public financing stating that it is also used for purely economic activities of this public body. 

    National substantive and procedural rules

  15. 8.

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

  16. There is no specific national provision regarding the application or enforcement of EU state aid rules in Belgium.

    Public authorities and jurisdictions apply directly the EU regulations for instance on the matter on procedure. National regulations on state aids for instance RDI schemes or investments aid schemes refer explicitly to the relevant EU regulations.

  17. 9.

    Are there national rules or guidelines relating to the implementation of EU state aid rules, in particular EU guidelines?

  18. National regulations that are legal basis for the grant of aids refer explicitly to the EU regulation that is relevant, for instance, the Commission Decision approving the Regional aids map for Belgium or the EU regulations that constitute the legal basis for the compatibility of a specific aid. 

  19. 10.

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

  20. National regulations that are legal basis for the grant of aids refer explicitly to the EU regulation that is relevant for instance the Commission Decision approving the Regional aids map for Belgium or the EU regulations that constitute the legal basis for the compatibility of a specific aid. 

  21. 11.

    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?

  22. In Belgium, the concept of service of general economic interest is similar as under European but the notion of public service, which is more commonly used in Belgian law is much broader. In one of the major cases regarding the public financing of public Brussels hospitals, the Belgian authorities considered that hospitals were not undertakings under EU state aids rules. The European Commission stated that they were but validated their compensation of public service. A judgment of the General Court of 19 December 2012 also concluded that Belgian hospitals were indeed undertakings. The very light Belgian report on SGEI submitted every two years to the Commission reveals sufficiently the fact that Belgian authorities are reluctant to admit the economic nature of certain services.

  23. 12.

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

  24. There is no study on national enforcement of EU state aid rules in Belgium apart from the one prepared for the European Commission in 2009 on the enforcement of state aid rules at national level.

  25. 13.

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

  26. Belgian national courts must apply state aid rules under the primacy of European law on national law, which is well respected.

    There is no specific jurisdiction for state aid cases and the competence would be relating to the act at stake. Indeed, if the legal basis of an aid is an administrative act, the Council of State is competent. If the aid results from commercial contracts with public undertakings, the judiciary court would have to be ceased.

    Role of national courts

  27. 14.

    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 the aid pending the outcome of the appeal?

  28. There are no specific procedural rules that apply to national judgments on state aid. The competent court will depend on the jurisdiction that has been ceased. The grounds that can be invoked can be procedural or based on the correct assessments of the relevant European dispositions. An appeal is not suspensive of a judgment and a judgment ordering the recovery of an aid must be executed unless the suspension has been requested by the beneficiary of the aid and granted by the jurisprudence.

  29. 15.

    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.

  30. National courts do not hesitate to refer questions regarding the interpretation of EU state aid rules to the Court of Justice for preliminary rulings. For instance, in the DMP case, the Belgian Tribunal of Commerce asked the Court of Justice if very favourable terms granted by the public body in charge of the social security to a company in difficulty for its social debts could be qualified as state aid. In that case, the Court of Justice did confirm that the social security should behave such as a private creditor. More recently, the Constitutional Court submitted six questions to the Court of Justice in the Arco case (see answer to question 7).

  31. 16.

    Describe recent developments regarding state aid cases before national courts.

  32. The most recent developments regarding state aid before Belgian national courts concern implementation of the European Commission decision on the Charleroi case. Brussels South Charleroi Airport challenged the implementation of this decision before the Chamber of first instance and the Council of State. The Council of State considered that it was not competent in this case. The Tribunal of first instance rejected the interim measures as it considered that there is no emergency. The main proceedings are still pending (see answer to question 7).

  33. 17.

    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. 

  34. A government measure can be challenged before the Council of State, which is competent to assess the legality of such measures. There is indeed a preliminary administrative review procedure before the Council of State. In this context, it is possible to obtain a suspension of the government measure if there is an emergency and a risk of damage difficult to repair and if there is a prima facie case.

  35. 18.

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

  36. To be able to challenge government measures in court for alleged illegal state aid, you would have to demonstrate that you have an interest in challenging these measures and therefore that you are being affected by the illegal state aid.

  37. 19.

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

  38. In theory, national authorities may argue in national court proceedings that a particular measure contains illegal state aids. Nevertheless, to our knowledge, there is no precedent in Belgium.

  39. 20.

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

  40. In Belgium, there is no specific limitation periods that apply for any party in the national court procedure invoking illegality under state aid rules.

  41. 21.

    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 Commission in parallel, or the Commission has started an investigation on its own initiative)?

  42. There is no provision of Belgian law preventing an individual from bringing state aid proceedings in the domestic courts concurrently with an investigation by the European Commission. In practice, a claimant will opt for a complaint to the Commission or a national proceeding, not both at the same time. It is notably due to the fact that most complaints to the Commission are anonymous, which cannot be the case in a national proceeding.

  43. 22.

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

  44. Under Belgian procedural rules, there is no objection to bring a national court proceeding in parallel to an investigation by the European Commission. National courts would stay proceedings pending a Commission procedure although they are not compelled to. In principle, the national courts may stay proceedings pending a Commission procedure in order to wait for the result of this procedure or it may order the suspension of the grant of the aid if there is an emergency and a risk of damage that would be difficult to repair for the competitor of the beneficiary of an aid. If the European Commission came to the preliminary conclusion in the opening decision that the measure constitutes an incompatible state aid, the national court should take this preliminary conclusion into consideration and order the reimbursement of the aid according to the Deutsche Lufthansa judgment.

  45. 23.

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

  46. Following the Court of Justice of the EU in the Deutsche Lufthansa case, the national judge must take into account the preliminary assessment of the European Commission which founds the decision to open a formal investigation. Indeed, such an decision is compulsory if the Commission has doubts on the compatibility of an aid.

    According to the Court, in that case:

    a national court hearing an application for the cessation of the implementation of that measure and the recovery of payments already made is required to adopt all the necessary measures with a view to drawing the appropriate conclusions from an infringement of the obligation to suspend the implementation of that measure. To that end, the national court may decide to suspend the implementation of the measure in question and order the recovery of payments already made. It may also decide to order provisional measures in order to safeguard both the interests of the parties concerned and the effectiveness of the European Commission’s decision to initiate the formal examination procedure. Where the national court entertains doubts as to whether the measure at issue constitutes State aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU or as to the validity or interpretation of the decision to initiate the formal examination procedure, it may seek clarification from the European Commission and, in accordance with the second and third paragraphs of Article 267 TFEU, it may or must refer a question to the Court of Justice of the European Union for a preliminary ruling.

    A Belgian judge would apply this European jurisprudence.

  47. 24.

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

  48. The burden of the proof weights on the claimant under Belgian procedural rules including state aid cases.

  49. 25.

    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? 

  50. Under Belgian law, the plaintiff can seek interim measures from the courts, for instance to prevent the grant of the aid. Interim relief is granted on the same conditions as other measures. The plaintiff must demonstrate that its case prima facie founded, there is a reason of emergency and a risk of a damage that would be difficult to repair.

  51. 26.

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

  52. If a national court found a non-notified measure to contain state aid, it may decide to suspend it or to impose the recovery of the aid. In case of doubt it may also request from the Commission an amica curia to enlighten its assessment or may refer to the Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling.

  53. 27.

    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? 

  54. No. A national court may order the recovery of a non-notified state aid.

  55. 28.

    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? 

  56. If a loan constitutes an aid granted in breach of article 108 (3) TFEU, the guarantee that would have been granted would not be necessary declare invalid. Under Belgian jurisprudence, the judge assesses the particular facts of the case to identify the intent of the parties. 

  57. 29.

    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. 

  58. The competitor of the beneficiary of an illegal and incompatible aid or any other affected third parties can claim compensation for damages caused by such an aid from the authority granting the state aid. The fault would consist in the violation of the standstill obligation. The rules that apply are the ones applying to classic liability actions.

  59. 30.

    Can a third party claim compensation from the member state for damage caused by failure to respect the standstill obligation?

  60. Under Belgian law, a third party claim compensation from the member state for damage caused by the failure to respect the standstill obligation. Article 1382 of the Civil Code states that “any act of man, which causes damages to another, shall oblige the person by whose fault it occurred to repair it”. The infringement of the notification obligation is in principle a fault. Nevertheless, the damage is difficult to demonstrate in practice. There are some pending cases.

    Consequences of violation of state aid rules

  61. 31.

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

  62. Under Belgian law, a third party can bring damages actions against the beneficiary for having benefited from an illegal and incompatible aid in accordance to the rules applying to classic liability actions. 

  63. 32.

    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 Commission as for aid that the Commission has ultimately determined as incompatible with the internal market?

  64. Under Belgian law, the violation of EU state aid rules affects the validity and enforceability of an aid measure. It can be declared invalid and thus void as a consequence of the primacy of EU law on Belgian law.

    Enforcement by the European Commission

  65. 33.

    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 Commission as for aid that the Commission has ultimately determined to be incompatible with the internal market? 

  66. Regarding a government regulation containing an aid measure, due to the principle of primacy of EU law on Belgian law, the government regulation would be put aside by any judiciary court or declared invalid if the Council of State is seized on the issue of its validity. Only the dispositions that are the legal basis for the grant of the aid would be declared void or put aside.

    In the case of a contract containing an aid measure, the national judge would put aside the dispositions that are the contractual basis for the grant of the aid. The validity of the contract as whole should be assessed by the national judge in the context of the intent of the parties. If the contractual dispositions regarding the grant of the aid were the principal of the contract, the whole contract would be declared void. If there are accessories to the principal object of the contract, the remaining of the contract will remain valid.

  67. 34.

    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.

  68. The major state aid investigations of the Commission of the past 12 months concern mainly state aid and tax matters. For instance, the European Commission decided to initiate the formal investigation procedure regarding the fiscal treatments under state aid rules. Indeed, on 15 January 2016, the Commission opened a formal investigation regarding concessionaires active in the port of Antwerp. More recently, the Commission decided on 8 July 2016 to initiate the formal investigation procedure regarding the fiscal treatment of granted aids to ports in Belgium. These investigations are in line with the priorities set up by Commissioner Vestager regarding state aid in the form of tax measures.

    They are also a number of pending preliminary investigations that are confidential at the moment.

  69. 35.

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

  70. Over the past 12 months, there has not been any decision of the Commission proposing appropriate measures concerning the existing aids in Belgium. 

  71. 36.

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

  72. There have never been specific investigations opened in Belgium following a sector inquiry. Nevertheless, the Commission adopted a decision on excess profit exemptions in Belgium adopted on 11 January 2016 following a general investigation of the Commission on that matter. 

  73. 37.

    Has your country ever been subject to an injunction by the Commission to suspend or provisionally recover aid?

  74. Belgium has never been subject to an injunction by the Commission to suspend or provisionally recover aid.

  75. 38.

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

  76. Belgium has been subject to an infringement procedure under article 108 (2) TFEU in the Verlipack case. The Commission revised a decision concluding to the absence of aid in favour of Verlipack. Following new information, it discovered that it had to put into question its first assessment. The second decision concluded to the existence of illegal and incompatible aid in favour of Verlipack.

    Recovery of state aid

  77. 39.

    Has the European Commission ever undertaken on-site state aid monitoring visits based on article 22 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 659/1999 (Procedural Regulation)? How were the visits carried out? What measures were taken to assist the officials and experts carrying out the visit?

  78. The European Commission has never undertaken on-site state aid monitoring visits based on article 22 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 659/1999 (Procedural Regulation).

  79. 40.

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

  80. In Belgium, there is no dedicated national authority in charge of the recovery of state aid following a Commission decision. The public entity or undertaking that has granted the aid is the one in charge of the recovery. If the beneficiary is reluctant to reimburse the aid, the public authority/undertaking will have to seize the competent national court. 

  81. 41.

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

  82. As mentioned here above, there is no national recovering authority in charge of the recovery of unlawful and incompatible state aid. The public authority/undertaking that has to implement decision of the Commission will have to go to the national court to request an enforcement order towards the beneficiary.

  83. 42.

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

  84. As mentioned here above, there is no national recovering authority in charge of the recovery of unlawful and incompatible state aid. The public authority/undertaking that has to implement decision of the Commission will have to go to the national court to request an enforcement order towards the beneficiary.

  85. 43.

    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 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 Commission’s recovery decision?

  86. The beneficiary may challenge the validity of the national recovery order implementing the Commission recovery decision either before the Council of State if the national recovery order has been adopted by an administration or before the judiciary courts if the decision of the Commission is implemented by public undertakings. The beneficiary of an illegal and incompatible aid may request the suspension of the recovery order but under the strict condition set up by the European Court of Justice in Zückerfabriek jurisprudence.

  87. 44.

    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 illegal state aid where the former has failed to implement a recovery decision by the European Commission?

  88. Third parties may force national authorities to claim damages from national authorities for failure to implement a recovery decision by the European Commission. To my knowledge, such procedure never took place in Belgium.

  89. 45.

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

  90. The defences invoked by beneficiaries against recovery are very limited and they must be in line with the European jurisprudence. In practice, the only obstacle to the effective recovery of an unlawful and incompatible aid is the case of the bankruptcy of the beneficiaries where all its assets have been awarded to privileged creditors. 

    Main areas of state aid

  91. 46.

    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?

  92. Belgian law does not provide specific rules in the case of an unlawful aid that have been declared compatible with the common market by the European Commission. The European jurisprudence stated that the national judge may, in that case, only impose interests on the amount of aid for the period of illegality between the grant of the aid and the decision of the Commission on the compatibility of the aid. In the Fortis case, the illegality of the aid was raised. As the aid had been declared compatible at the latest stage, the commercial court did not impose its recovery nor the payment of interests for its illegality, which was very limited in time.

  93. 47.

    Which sectors have received the highest amounts of aid in the past five years?

  94. The Belgian railway sector has received the highest amount of aid in the past five years according to the European Commission state aid scoreboard:

    2011

    2012

    2013

    2014

    2015

    3,239.0

    2,900.8

    3,120.7

    3,113.2

    2,988

    Other

  95. 48.

    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.

  96. Following the European Commission state aid scoreboard, the amounts of state aid granted by Belgian authorities the past five years are the following in millions EUR (outside the railway sector):

    2011

    2012

    2013

    2014

    2015

    1589,5

    1519,8

    1601,9

    1754,1

    1956,9

  97. 49.

    Provide information on any other special features of your country’s state aid regime not covered above.

  98. Belgium has been the object of many investigations of the European Commission on alleged illegal aids, certainly in comparison to other countries. The fact that the European Commission is localised in Brussels is certainly a factor as many investigations were launched following the publication of press articles on public investments, for instance. 

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Questions

    National state aid control - competent authorities

  1. 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? 


  2. 2.

    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? 


  3. 3.

    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 illegal aid measures? 


  4. 4.

    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?


  5. 5.

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


  6. 6.

    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?


  7. 7.

    Describe any recent developments in substantive or procedural rules under domestic law relating to state aid.


  8. National substantive and procedural rules

  9. 8.

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


  10. 9.

    Are there national rules or guidelines relating to the implementation of EU state aid rules, in particular EU guidelines?


  11. 10.

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


  12. 11.

    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?


  13. 12.

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


  14. 13.

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


  15. Role of national courts

  16. 14.

    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 the aid pending the outcome of the appeal?


  17. 15.

    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.


  18. 16.

    Describe recent developments regarding state aid cases before national courts.


  19. 17.

    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. 


  20. 18.

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


  21. 19.

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


  22. 20.

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


  23. 21.

    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 Commission in parallel, or the Commission has started an investigation on its own initiative)?


  24. 22.

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


  25. 23.

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


  26. 24.

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


  27. 25.

    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? 


  28. 26.

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


  29. 27.

    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? 


  30. 28.

    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? 


  31. 29.

    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. 


  32. 30.

    Can a third party claim compensation from the member state for damage caused by failure to respect the standstill obligation?


  33. Consequences of violation of state aid rules

  34. 31.

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


  35. 32.

    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 Commission as for aid that the Commission has ultimately determined as incompatible with the internal market?


  36. Enforcement by the European Commission

  37. 33.

    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 Commission as for aid that the Commission has ultimately determined to be incompatible with the internal market? 


  38. 34.

    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.


  39. 35.

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


  40. 36.

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


  41. 37.

    Has your country ever been subject to an injunction by the Commission to suspend or provisionally recover aid?


  42. 38.

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


  43. Recovery of state aid

  44. 39.

    Has the European Commission ever undertaken on-site state aid monitoring visits based on article 22 of Council Regulation (EC) No. 659/1999 (Procedural Regulation)? How were the visits carried out? What measures were taken to assist the officials and experts carrying out the visit?


  45. 40.

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


  46. 41.

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


  47. 42.

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


  48. 43.

    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 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 Commission’s recovery decision?


  49. 44.

    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 illegal state aid where the former has failed to implement a recovery decision by the European Commission?


  50. 45.

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


  51. Main areas of state aid

  52. 46.

    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?


  53. 47.

    Which sectors have received the highest amounts of aid in the past five years?


  54. Other

  55. 48.

    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.


  56. 49.

    Provide information on any other special features of your country’s state aid regime not covered above.