State aid spotlight on tax: the General Court’s judgments on Fiat and Starbucks

In 2015, the European Commission ordered Starbucks and Fiat to each pay €20m–€30m in the Netherlands and Luxembourg, respectively, as their tax arrangements were found to constitute illegal state aid. On 24 September 2019, the General Court upheld the Commission’s Fiat decision, but annulled the Starbucks decision. What were the key economic issues in these cases, and what are the implications of the judgments?

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Lifting the weight of state aid from project finance

In the EU, support provided by the state to finance projects operating in competitive markets typically needs to comply with state aid rules. However, there may be challenges in structuring project financing from the state in a way that is compliant with these rules. What are the fundamental elements to consider when assessing whether the funding confers an economic advantage on the recipient? What alternative financing structures could be considered?

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The impact of state aid on competition: an economic framework for the European Commission

In December 2017 the European Commission published Oxera’s ex post assessment of the impact of state aid on competition, a study that could have significant implications for future state aid control. We first developed an economic framework that the Commission can use in state aid assessments to evaluate the competitive effects of the aid. We then applied the framework in four case studies, providing insights into the main drivers of the impact of aid on competition

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De-stressing distressed investments: portfolio returns in restructuring aid cases

In the EU, state intervention to assist firms in financial difficulty is often justified by demonstrating that the aid is compatible based on the European Commission’s Rescue and Restructuring Aid Guidelines. However, these Guidelines impose restrictions on firms’ activities, which can tie the hands of the beneficiary, limiting the options to ensure a return to financial viability. But can state intervention be justified on commercial grounds by focusing on the state’s overall portfolio of assets?

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To be fair: what does economic justice look like?

What is meant by economic (or distributive) justice has far-reaching implications for economic policies and their outcomes. However, in policymaking the interpretation is often implicit, with limited awareness and discussion of alternative concepts or their merits and drawbacks. What are these key concepts of economic justice, and what is their role in competition policy, regulation and regional state aid?

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Bail-in or bailout? State aid to banks under the Single Resolution Mechanism

Various European banks and other credit institutions are facing a challenging economic and commercial environment. This has brought the issue of state aid back to the fore. If these institutions do require state support, it is critical that this complies with both the European Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) and EU state aid rules. What exactly are these rules, and how can banks and their respective authorities demonstrate that support is compliant?

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The case of Apple, and the state aid spotlight on multinationals’ tax affairs

On 30 August 2016, the European Commission handed down its largest-ever adverse state aid decision against the tax rulings of a single multinational, requiring Apple to repay €13bn of aid plus interest. The decision follows state aid investigations of the corporate tax affairs of a number of other well-known companies, and will have far-reaching implications for multinationals that currently have, or plan to have, operations in the EU

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Brexit: implications for state aid rules

EU state aid rules play an important role in many member states. The UK has recently seen heated debates relating to the closure of steelworks and the construction of nuclear plants, where political and business decisions are in part shaped by state aid rules. What would happen in the case of Brexit?

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Odds on? What was the probability of Leicester City’s 2016 success?

What were the odds of Leicester City’s triumph in the 2015/16 English Premier League football season? Whether the club will be able to sustain its success will depend on its risk appetite, luck, the wage bill it will need to maintain and, perhaps most importantly, the impact of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules on the competitive dynamics of club football. These issues are explored in the first of a series of Agenda articles on football, finance and economics

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