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State aid complaints must be submitted using a mandatory form, says European Commission

Out-Law News | 11 Apr 2014 | 10:41 am | 1 min. read

Allegations of illegal state aid or misuse of State aid will only be considered by the European Commission if they are submitted by an "interested party" using a newly introduced mandatory complaint form. This completes the reform of the complaints handling procedure introduced by the Commission in July 2013.

Under the reform only EU member states and "any person, undertaking, or association of undertakings whose interests might be affected by alleged illegal aid may submit a complaint to the Commission".

In addition, under the new rules the allegation must be submitted in a "complete and structured manner" using a "compulsory complaint form".

The Commission has revised the procedures to investigate allegations that state support for certain projects might breach EU state aid rules in an attempt to save time and resources caused by unsubstantiated and inappropriately-motivated complaints, it said.

"Complaints are a very useful source of information," a statement by the Commission said. "However the Commission also receives many complaints that are not motivated by genuine competition concerns, are unsubstantiated or cannot be addressed through state aid rules. Given the Commission's duty to investigate all complaints, this can lead to a waste of the Commission's limited resources."

The measures are part of the Commission's state aid modernisation agenda, under which it aims to focus enforcement on cases which have the biggest impact on the EU's internal market. The agenda is designed to facilitate faster decisions on state aid issues.

"This [mandatory complaint form] will make it easier for complainants to identify which information the Commission needs for its investigation and enable the Commission to act faster on suspected violations of the state aid rules," said the statement. "With the adoption of the form, the last building block of the reform of state aid procedures has been put in place."

Joaquín Almunia, Commission Vice President in charge of competition policy, said: "Today we completed the most comprehensive reform of state aid procedures in the last 15 years. From now on, we will be able to more swiftly and efficiently investigate complaints that point to distortions threatening the integrity of the single market. This procedural reform, together with the ongoing substantive reform of state aid rules, will ensure a more effective state aid control by the Commission."