Relaxing whilst doing Competition Law is not an Oxymoron

Archive for November 15th, 2017

The law on SGEIs in theory, and in practice (the pending Spanish DTT cases)

with 9 comments


The provision of Services of General Economic Interest (SGEIs) is a key feature of a social market economy. EU Law has always acknowledged this; see Article 106 TFEU, Protocol 26 to the Treaties of the Altmark case law.

In theory, and pursuant to a logic of subsidiarity, Member States enjoy wide discretion t provide these services. In practice, however, the Commission appears to enjoy wide discretion to question Member States choices.

Last week I was invited by ERA (Academy of European Law) to speak at their Annual State Aid conference about SGEIs and, specifically, about a saga of cases on which I have been working for some years and that are now pending before the CJEU (AG Wathelet delivered his incomplete Opinion last September).

The cases are relevant because, albeit paying lip service to Member States’ margin of discretion in this area (or, rather, by an exercise of confusing/meaningless copy-paste like the ones that were the subject of AG Wahl presentation at our recent litigation workshop), the Commission, the General Court and AG Wathelet are actually introducing (discreetly, through the backdoor and in some cases probaby inadvertedly!) novel requirements that would enable the Commission to challenge the provision of virtually any SGEI at the national level. Few people seem to have realized about the relevance of what is going on, but do me a favour: check any SGEI in your Member State and verify whether it complies with the requirements set in these cases…

In spite of the relevance of the legal questions at stake, and of the risk that they pose to the consistency of the case-law, the AG Opinion did not really address them.

For my view on what these questions really are, and on why this case is so relevant and (so far) so problematic, see here:

Services of General Economic Interest (DTT_Lamadrid_ERA 2017)



Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

15 November 2017 at 2:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized


with 10 comments

It is time to say farewell. It was fun while it lasted. We did our best to come up with different angles, sometime serious, sometimes purportedly fun. But after 5 few years and many posts, we have run out of interesting things to say.  We started this jokingly and improvising, but it now feels like an obligation, people expect something, but we need to focus our time on other things. We very much hope you will understand.

Indeed, as sad as it may be, after the CJEU’s ruling from yesterday. the endives case is now over. It gave us much food for thought and bad puns, but it is time to move on and discuss other competition issues. Farewell, endives. The blog will continue without you.

If you ask us, these were our highlights (we just had a good laught while re-reading them): see here for the first post,  here for an example of how the blog fostered collaborative thinking, here for a hoax that some took seriously, here for a discussion on enforcement menus, here for a post that I hope will be forgotten and, for a change, here for a more serious comment.

And speaking of food, Commissioner Vestager was kind enough to mention the Syrian lunch served at the Chillin’Competition conference in her Wired interview a few days ago (check it out at minute 28). If you want to follow her advice, you only need to contact our friends at

P.S. The immediate reactions to this post by email and Twitter have confirmed what we suspected: the people who say like this blog the most are the ones who don’t really read what we write! 😉  This natural experiment confirms the latest press reports on people sharing links based only on headlines and excerpts 


Written by Alfonso Lamadrid

15 November 2017 at 11:26 am

Posted in Uncategorized