A public version of the Commission’s decision in the British Aggregates case, following the annulment of the previous decision, has finally been published on the Commission’s website (though not yet in the OJ). The decision was adopted on 27 March this year and is now available here.
This is the latest in a long-running saga that started in 2001 with the notification of the new aggregates levy to the Commission, a notification that took place in parallel with the judicial review of the levy by the British Aggregates Association. Although both the first instance judge (in the judicial review) and the Commission (following the notification) considered that the levy did not give rise to aid, the Commission’s decision was eventually annulled in 2012 following two trips to the General Court and one to the ECJ. The Commission has since then taken three years to adopt this new decision, finding that certain of the exemptions in the aggregates levy (for shale) are incompatible aid, but that the remaining exemptions in the levy do not constitute aid.
The question will now be as to the way forward, for both the British Aggregates Association and the government. There is a pending appeal before the Court of Appeal (almost certainly the longest outstanding appeal currently before that Court) which will need to be resolved. And the government will now face the task of implementing the Commission’s decision, which requires it to recover the aid granted in respect of the incompatible exemptions, together with interest.