Bruxelles, le 31 janvier 2008
Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes commented: "The recovery of illegal and incompatible aid is about restoring a fair playing field in the Single Market. The Commission will take all necessary steps to ensure that Member States comply with their recovery obligations. National courts have a duty not to stand in the way of this process. "
On 1 April 2004 (case C-99/02), the ECJ held that Italy had failed to meet the recovery obligations imposed in the Commission Decision of 11 May 1999 (see IP/99/321). The decision concerned aid measures aimed at promoting employment. Part of the aid had been found incompatible because it was not suitable to attain the objective of job creation and had therefore to be recovered from the beneficiaries. More than eight years after the Commission decision and more than three years after the ECJ judgement, Italy has still not informed the Commission that the recovery has been completed. Based on the most recent information provided by the Italian authorities, only about 0.5% of the illegal and incompatible aid has been recovered.
A similar decision was adopted by the ECJ concerning the recovery of aid to utilities with a majority public capital holding (the so-called Municipalizate case, C-207/05). Although the ECJ judgement ordered the recovery of illegal aid back in June 2006, Italy has still not informed the Commission that the recovery has been completed successfully. The Italian authorities' failure to recover the aid in this case is largely due to the fact that part of the payment orders issued by the Italian authorities were suspended by national courts. In the Commission's view these suspension decisions and Italy's failure to complete the recovery are contrary to EC law: the Court has previously taken the view (in the Scott case C-232/05) that national courts should set aside any provision that may hinder immediate and effective recovery).
The Commission's firm approach towards Member States that fail to recover illegal aid is fully in line with the State Aid Action Plan presented in June 2005 (see IP/05/680) and with the notice on the implementation of recovery decisions (see IP/07/1609).
More general information on infringements is available at: