April 01
2020
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26th March 2020
Competition & State Aid

Court of Justice quashes judgment on Greek State aid

Today, the Court of Justice handed down its ruling in Larko v Commission (C-244/18 P), an appeal against a State aid-related judgment by the General Court. The case refers to the aid granted by Greece to Larck General Mining & Metallurgical Company SA., a large company specialised in the extraction and treatment of laterite ore, the extraction of lignite and the production of ferro-nickel and its by-products.

By its appeal, Larko sought to have set aside the judgment of the General Court of 1 February 2018 in Larko v Commission (T-423/14), by which the General Court dismissed its action for annulment of Commission Decision 2014/539 on the State aid granted by Greece to Larko.

In support of its appeal, Larko put forward four pleas in law: (i) misapplication of the private investor test and failure to state reasons in the judgment under appeal; (ii) misinterpretation of the concept of economic advantage and a series of failures to state reasons in that judgment; (iii) errors of law in the assessment of the compatibility of some measures with the internal market, as well as various failures to state reasons in the judgment under appeal; (iv) errors of law in the assessment of the amount of aid to be recovered in relation to some of the measures and various failures to state reasons in that judgment.

By its judgment today, the Court of Justice decided to partially set aside the judgment under appeal and to refer the case back to the General Court, having dismissed the first part of the first plea in law for annulment concerning a guarantee granted in 2008 by the Greek State to Larko and a loan of 30 million euros granted by ATE Bank to that company.

The Court of Justice noted that, in the context of the application of the concept of economic advantage, the General Court should have gone back to the context of the adoption of the State aid measure, but failed to do so and applied the presumption that the Greek State should have been aware of the undertaking’s situation of difficulty when it adopted that measure.

The judgment is available here (in French).

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