Volume 16 (2010) / Issue 2
Since the presentation in 2005 of the European Commission’s State Aid Action Plan (SAAP), we have been witnessing a shift towards a more economically focused state aid policy. According to the SAAP, the key element of this ‘more refined economic approach’ is the analysis of market failures such as externalities, imperfect information, and coordination problems. In the SAAP, the European Commission (Commission) also committed to the provision of effective and high-quality services of general economic interest (SGEI). However, it is not clear from the document what impact, if any, the more refined economic approach has on the state aid assessment of SGEIs. The silence of the SAAP on this issue leaves many questions open: is it possible to increase the economic dimension of state aid assessment of SGEIs; can state aid to SGEIs address a market failure; and to what extent and how can the Commission apply the efficiency principle to state aid to SGEIs?
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