From this month (January 2022), it will be easier for EU Member States to provide government subsidies (also known as “State aid”) for climate and renewable energy projects.  At the same time, the EU is cracking down on public funding for fossil fuels.

On December 22, 2021, the German Federal Cartel Office (“FCO”) published its annual review for 2021.[1]  As done already on the occasion of the presentation of its Annual Report 2020/2021,[2] the FCO’s President, Andreas Mundt, emphasized again that the protection of competition in the digital economy remains one of the FCO’s top priorities.  He underlined that also merger control will continue to serve as a key tool to achieve this goal.  In addition, he pointed out that the FCO would welcome powers of intervention also with regard to infringements of consumer rights.

Cleary Gottlieb partners Romano Subiotto QC and Robbert Snelders, in collaboration with our Antitrust practice, are thrilled to present

On November 18, 2021, the Commission published its communication entitled “a competition policy fit for new challenges” (the “Communication”).[1] The Communication identifies several areas where an adjusted competition policy could help overcome new challenges the European economy is facing. In particular, the Communication discusses competition policy’s role in Europe’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, in supporting the European green[2] and digital transition,[3] and in strengthening the Single market’s resilience.

On October 6, 2021, the Court of Justice dismissed eight appeals[1] brought against the 2019 judgments of the General Court, upholding the classification of Spanish tax rules on the amortization of financial goodwill as State aid incompatible with the internal market. The judgments are noteworthy as the Court of Justice, sitting as the Grand Chamber, shed light on the interpretation of the notion of selectivity—one of the cumulative criteria required for a national measure to qualify as State aid contrary to EU law.

On May 12, 2021, the General Court handed down two judgments on the Commission’s review under EU State aid rules of tax rulings in which the Luxembourg tax authorities had clarified in advance how national taxation provisions will apply to specific companies.

Background

On May 5, 2021, the Commission proposed a draft regulation to tackle potential distortions in the internal market caused by foreign subsidies (“Draft Regulation”).[1]

On October 15, 2020, Advocate General Pitruzzella advised the Court of Justice to overturn the General Court’s annulment of the Commission’s decision that had found that preferential corporate tax rates enjoyed by FC Barcelona and other clubs amounted to unlawful and incompatible State aid.[1] The Advocate General disagrees with the General Court’s conclusion that the Commission failed to show to the requisite legal standard the existence of an advantage in favor of FC Barcelona and proposes to set aside the judgment under appeal on this basis.

On September 24, 2019, the General Court ruled on the appeals against two of the Commission’s decisions ordering recovery of illegal state aid in back taxes that the Netherlands and Luxembourg allegedly provided to Starbucks Manufacturing EMEA BV (“Starbucks”) and Fiat Chrysler Finance Europe (“Fiat”) respectively.[1]