State Aid Voyeurism

Monday, July 8th, 2013

“State aid”? Aaah . . . I do wish it was something remotely sexy (sorry, nothing like “marriage aids”) – but alas. It’s namely when an EU member state government provides assistance – usually €€€ – to a domestic company. And it’s a no-no under EU rules, since we’re all supposed to be in a great big unified Euro-area where all companies can compete on equal terms, and a helping hand from your government distorts those terms.

Well, State aid usually is a no-no, but sometimes it’s allowed. And the Belgian French-language business newspaper L’Echo has grabbed a bit of a scoop with its discovery that the EU Commission’s DG Competition is now shooting for “total exposure.”


Here’s journalist Frédéric Rohart’s first paragraph:

Does the whole world need to know which company receives which State aid (loan, subsidy, tax advantage . . . ) and for what amount? The European Commission thinks so, and intends to require that by 2014.

How does “the whole world” get to know? From a website, silly! Or rather, “websites”: the idea is that each member state would be required to set up its own State aid website, presumably under “guidance” from the Commission. We already know from L’Echo that, at a minimum, the information to be posted would have to include name of company, its VAT ID number, and the amount of the aid. (more…)

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