Norms protecting competition among States are contained in articles 107-109 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and regard the discipline of public aid to undertakings.
According to the EU, an undertaking that (directly or indirectly) receives State aid gains an advantage over its competitors. For this reason the Treaty generally prohibits aid that is not justified by development, general economic interest, or the need to intervene in situations of “market failure”.
Article 107 of the TFEU:
- outlines the notion of aid
- indicates the kinds of aid that can by law be considered compatible with the Treaty
- indicates the aims according to which certain categories of aid may be recognized as compatible by a subsequent Regulation, as foreseen by article 109 of the TFEU
Article 108 outlines aid control procedures
The European Commission (the CompetitionDG in particular) is responsible for enforcing State aid rules and supervises aid authorization and distribution
The Competition DG adopts a policy of transparency and disclosure of the rules regarding aid by publishing on its website:
- current rules in force for the different types of aid
- former rules in force
- decisions on concrete cases in which it exercised its control
- indications on valid rules on aid in matters of services of general economic interest
- a weekly newsletter
- and much more
The European Commission with the Communication on “State aid modernization (COM/2012/0209) of May 2012 began to adopt a package of reforms of all policies in matters of State aid, based on three primary objectives:
- promote intelligent, sustainable, and inclusive growth in a competitive internal market;
- concentrate the Commission's control ex ante on cases with a greater impact on the internal market, reinforcing at the same time cooperation among member States regarding the application of norms on State aid;
- rationalize norms and accelerate decision making.