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Brussels, 22nd September 2008

State aid: Commission consults on draft guidance for state aid enforcement by national courts

The European Commission has launched a public consultation on a set of guidelines to assist Member States' courts in applying the EU state aid rules. The guidelines are aimed at supporting national courts and potential claimants in relation to domestic state aid challenges. In addition, national judges will be able to ask the Commission for information or opinions on the application of the state aid rules. Interested parties are invited to comment on the draft by 23 October 2008.

National courts play a very important role in the overall enforcement of EU state aid rules. Individuals or companies affected by the granting of unlawful aid can often obtain very effective remedies by challenging such measures at national level. This is reflected in the Commission's State Aid Action Plan (SAAP, see IP/05/680 and MEMO/05/195), which envisages a review of the 1995 notice on cooperation between national courts and the Commission in the state aid field.

The draft new notice has two key aims:

  • To provide more detailed guidance to national courts and potential claimants based on the EU Courts' jurisprudence on the role of national courts in the state aid field. This includes guidance on issues such as the protection of individual rights, the recovery of illegal aid, interim relief and damages actions.
  • To give national courts more practical and user friendly support in their daily work through support mechanisms based on existing practice in the antitrust area. National judges would thus be able to ask the Commission for information and/or for its opinion on the application of the state aid rules.

The draft notice also draws on the conclusions of a detailed study on the enforcement of state aid law at national level of 2006 (IP/06/477), finding that, although the overall number of state aid cases before national courts had increased, actions aimed at challenging the granting of illegal aid were still relatively rare.

The draft notice is available at the Commission's website at: should be sent to the European Commission, DG COMP, State Aid Registry, 1049 Brussels, or preferably via email to It is important that all replies clearly indicate "HT 946 – Notice on State Aid Enforcement by National Courts" as the reference.

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