Belated July 2013 round-up

The second half of July saw a flurry of activity on the State aid front, which was announced with a deafening silence on this blog for the reason that the UKSALA blogger was busy trying to incorporate the various legislative amendments and new consultations into the proofs of *shameless plug* the second edition of her book European Union law of State aid, to be published by OUP at the end of this month.

Here, then, is what you all (might have) missed, which was causing your blogger such a headache during one of the sunniest Julys on record.

1. On 10 July the Commission adopted a new version of the Banking Communication, repealing and replacing the original 2008 Banking Communication and altering in several important respects the assessment of aid under the other Communications that form part of the Crisis Framework. The new Communication is now the main source of guidance as to the procedure to be followed for the grant of State aid to banks, and for the detailed requirements as to burden sharing by recipient banks and their stakeholders. At the end of July, the new Communication was published in the OJ here.

2. On 17 July the Commission launched a consultation on the second draft of a new general de minimis Regulation, to replace Regulation (EC) 1998/2006.

3. On 22 July the Enabling Regulation was amended to allow the block exemption of a number of additional categories of aid. The amendments were introduced by Regulation (EU) 733/2013, amending Regulation 994/98 – and on the way tweaking the title of the latter, since the EU legislator obviously has such a tidy mind.

4. On the same day, the Procedural Regulation was also amended on several significant points, including the introduction of provisions allowing the Commission to conduct sector inquiries in the State aid field, and the incorporation of market information tools in the State aid investigation procedure. In addition, State aid complainants are now required to demonstrate that they are interested parties within the meaning of Article 108(2) TFEU and are required to submit complaints on the relevant prescribed form. These amendments were introduced by Regulation (EU) 734/2013, amending Regulation 659/99 – and again tweaking the title of the latter. The new procedural rules will be discussed in a Kings/UKSALA seminar, currently scheduled for the end of October – details will be posted up on this website in due course.

5. On 24 July, in light of the expansion of the categories of aid covered by the Enabling Regulation, the Commission launched a consultation on the inclusion of some of these new categories in the new GBER, which is proposed to apply from 1 July 2014 (with the current GBER being extended to 30 June 2014).

6. On the same day the Commission also launched a consultation on a first draft of its proposed new Risk Capital Guidelines.

For completeness, a number of State aid decisions were adopted in July, but the one of most immediate interest to the UKSALA blogger was the decision on 31 July to open a formal investigation into the UK Aggregates Levy (combined, apparently, with a decision not to raise objections to certain aspects of the Levy). The decision has not yet been published by the Commission, but the basic information is recorded on the State aid register here. (See, related to this, the previous posts of 11 April and 2 July on the Court of Appeal proceedings in the British Aggregates case.) This is particularly topical, as the next UKSALA seminar will be on the subject of State aid and taxation, and will take place on 24 September. Full details will be posted up on the website later this week.

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