State aid conferences: that’s where the fun is!
(You’ll understand why we chose this pic if you keep on reading)
The European State Aid Law Institute held its 10th Experts’ Forum on new developments in European State aid law last Thursday and Friday.
I didn’t attend (as a means to reducing my current backlog I’m quitting conferences for a while) but some of my colleagues did. One of my
bosses colleagues, José Luis Buendía, develivered a critical presentation on the State Aid Modernisation Initiative (“SAM”). Hopefully he will be able to turn it into a post for this blog once he manages to take some time off for this (he’s currently a bit busy representing the Spanish Fund for Orderly Bank Reestructuring, which will be borrowing 100.000 million euros from the EU rescue funds; see here or, actually, almost anywhere else).
I hear that there were other excellent sessions (e.g. there seems to be unanimous praise for Marc van der Woude’s presentation), but the session that will perhaps stick for longer in attendees minds was the Opinion Panel featuring Ryanair´s CEO (Michael O´Leary) and the Deputy Director General for State aid (Gert-Jan Koopman). As you may know, O´Leary has a reputation for being somewhat of an histrionic character, and he stood up to it.
The version of O´Leary’s CV included in the materials was already a bit different from the usual stuff (I promise I’m not making any of this up):
“Michael O´Leary has served as Ryanair CEO since 1993. Born in a stable in 1961, he was a boy genius, who excelled both academically and at sports. Having represented Ireland internationally at bog snorkelling and flower arranging, he graduated from Trinity College in Dublin as soon as they could get rid of him. He then became another boring KPMG accountant until divine inspiration sentenced him to a life of penal servitude in the airline business. Despite his best efforts, Ryanair is the World´s favorite airline, with 1,5000+ low fare routes accross 28 countries. (…) It is widely known that women find him irresistible“.
Some of the points he made in his speech that were most warmly received by the Commission were that (i) DG COMP has hired North-Korean economists to draft the guidelines on regional airports ; (ii) that no Commission official has ever set foot in Charleroi because they only fly on expensive tickets ; (iii) that he had woken up to fly at 6 a.m, something that the Deputy Director General does not even conceive has humanly possible; and (iv) that there are only two sorts of people that like the guidelines: flag carriers and Kim Jong Il. His last slide was actually of Kim Jong Il saying “These guidelines are fab!”.
I’m so sorry I missed it…