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European Commission - Press release

State Aid – Germany: Aid to the "Gesellschaft für Weinabsatz" partially incompatible

Brussels, 29 June 2011 – The European Commission has found aid granted by Germany to Gesellschaft für Weinabsatz (GfW) incompatible with the EU State aid rules. The Commission has decided that a loan amounting to around € 15 million granted by the Wiederaufbaukasse der rheinland-pfälzischen Weinbaugebiete (WAK) in 1999 constitutes illegal State aid as it was granted in contradictions with the Commission notice on the method for setting the reference and discount rates.

The European Commission has further decided that WAK's subordination and waiver of claims in favour of GfW when GfW got into financial difficulty in 2000 did not constitute State aid as it is in conformity with the Private Creditor Test. The European Commission has also decided that GfW's purchase of must in 1999 from winegrowing enterprise and merchants, financed by the loan granted by WAK, did not constitute State aid as the purchase was done on market terms.

The examination by the European Commission has thus demonstrated that part of the measures constitute State aid to GfW. Germany shall not need to recover this aid as GfW is insolvent and has been dissolved and deleted from the trade registry and there is no legal successor.

Background

This case originates in a complaint and a non-notified aid followed by an in-depth investigation opened in 2004 (see IP/04/224) and extended in 2008. In 1999, WAK granted a loan amounting to around € 15 million to GfW which GfW used to purchase must from winegrowing enterprises and merchants. In 2000 GfW found itself in financial difficulty and WAK agreed to subordinate and waive part of its claims on GfW.

Contacts :

Roger Waite (+32 2 296 14 04)

Johan Reyniers (+32 2 295 67 28)


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