Volume 29 (2006) / Issue 1
With the recent and ongoing reform of most areas of European competition law (mergers, Art. 81 and now Art. 82 of the EC Treaty) State aid rules appear more and more as an anomaly. This is both from the institutional point of view, where State aid remain the exclusive domain of the European Commission, and in being one of the few last areas of competition law where decisions are based on presumptions rather than competitive effects. This article argues that the two aspects are strictly linked. Because the European Commission has to review a large number of State aid cases every year it lacks the resources to go beyond an analysis based on presumptions. This suggests that a different system could improve the application of State aid rules. It is claimed here that a strong case for a supranational control of State aid is only warranted when the measure is likely to result in significant negative spillovers. It follows that the European Commission could focus only on cases where significant effects on trade are likely and delegate the analysis of cases where the effects are purely national to independent national authorities in each Member State.
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