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Archive for April 13th, 2010

State Aid and General Interest

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Julien de Beys (invited lecturer at the University of Louvain) has posted here a freely downloadable version of his Phd on State aid and General Interest (in French). The good, refreshing thing about this work is that it takes a rather original perspective on State aid. Unlike most other authors, who start from the idea that State aid is genuinely distortive, this research starts from the other side, and seems to argue that State aid is generally necessary to ensure general interest. Obviously, hardcore free-marketers, who believe that the accumulation of egoistic self-interest is the sole drivers of collectively optimal outcomes, will find this work particularly controversial. I paste hereafter the abstract, and wish to congratulate the author for his impressive piece of work.

The present thesis analyses the State aid control carried out by the European Commission as regards the concept of general interest. In doing so, this research contributes, on one hand, to situate the current position of this concept within EU law, as well as, on the other, it underlines the profound developments this control inflicts on the Member States’ economic intervention policies. Any person interested in State aid law knows that, in one way or another, State aid is deemed compatible with the single market because it benefits to society, namely because it allows the realisation of general interest objectives. Consequently, if general interest is at stake, what are the legal bases used in order to express it? What are the references of the Commission and how does it nourish its reflection? How come that the European Parliament and the Council appear to be apart? How are national interest and European interest articulated? In addition, Member States today have to justify to what extent their economic interventions are preferable to the free market and put them in the prolongation of the objectives sought at the European level. The necessity of this national policies’ orientation is not questioned. However, Member States should collectively find at European level the room for manoeuvre that they individually lose at national level. The first part of the thesis analyses the scope of State aid control. Why a general ban of State aid? Why are certain exemptions accepted? The second part describes the method by which certain general interest objectives are recognised. It specifies that these objectives are also “configured”, according to an original concept identified by the author. The third part shows that State aid control constitutes a national interest control at the service of the European policies. An important exception to this statement is however examined: the Member States’ competence to determine, set up and finance their public services.

(Image possibly subject to copyrights: source here)

Written by Nicolas Petit

13 April 2010 at 7:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized