Commission publishes Code of Best Practices for the conduct of state aid control procedures

On 16 July 2018, the Commission published its new Code of Best Practices for the conduct of state aid control procedures, which replaced an older version of the Code that was adopted in 2009.  Commenting, European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said:
“The new Best Practices Code for State aid control will benefit Member States, businesses and stakeholders by increasing the efficiency and speed of State aid control, in particular by ensuring earlier and better cooperation between Member States and the Commission.”
The Best Practices Code explains how State aid procedures are carried out, and sets out the steps the Commission is taking to increase the speed, transparency and predictability of these procedures. In particular, it includes guidance on:
  • how the Commission will be in contact Member States authorities and provide guidance before State aid measures are formally notified;
  • how Member States authorities can implement measures which are unlikely to distort competition,without formally notifying the Commission;
  • how the Commission and the Member States will work together to facilitate the handling of State aid cases by allowing Member States to indicate the cases that are of high priority for them;
  • how the Commission maintains a network of country coordinators for day-to-day contacts with each Member State to provide immediate support in dealing with any issues;
  • how the Commission works with Member States, including by agreeing how to process novel, complex or urgent cases, such as TEN-T network projects supporting the construction and upgrade of transport infrastructure.
  • how the Commission can obtain relevant information directly from relevant public authorities or companies by using market information tools;
  • how the Commission works with Member States on evaluation and monitoring of State aid measures; and,
  • how complaints about State aid are handled by the Commission following changes in the State aid Procedural Regulation.
Importantly for public authorities, the Code also clarified the circumstances under which the Commission will consider a case to be a formal complaint and provided indicative deadlines of handling such complaints.
Nevertheless, the Code also acknowledges the possibility of a departure from the guidelines it has set out in some individual cases, particularly in relation to the fishery and aquaculture sectors and sectors in primary production, marketing or processing of agricultural products.