The European Commission has ordered the UK to recover illegal aid that the country granted to certain multinational companies, as the commission found part of an anti-tax avoidance scheme violated EU state aid rules.
The EU’s General Court has struck down a European Commission decision finding that Belgium granted unlawful tax relief to to at least 66 companies, but lawyers do not expect the ruling to have much of a bearing on upcoming challenges to more high-profile state aid tax cases.
The UK’s new state aid regime, which is set to be introduced when the country leaves the European Union, will be “as similar to the European Commission’s current procedural rules as possible”, the UK enforcer has confirmed.
Critics have argued that the Department of Justice’s antitrust division was too lenient in approving airline mergers amid a string of consolidation during the Obama administration. Many of those same critics have argued US antitrust enforcers have been too lenient in approving technology mergers. Yesterday, the agency challenged a deal that encompasses both sectors. The division alleges Sabre’s acquisition of Farelogix is an attempt to eliminate a “disruptive competitor” in the market for airline flight booking services. Meanwhile, Sabre said the DOJ’s claims “reflect a fundamental misunderstanding of the industry”.
The Department of Justice’s antitrust division has sued to block Sabre’s purchase of a rival travel technology company.
The European Court of Justice’s recent Heitkamp Bauholding ruling shows the importance the courts attach to the selectivity principle in state aid – but the European Commission lacks “the right toolkit” to define the correct reference system in such cases, a commission official has said.
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