Answer to Written Question: Restrictive interpretation of parties able to lodge a complaint

(Source: European Parliament)



Answer given by Executive Vice-President Vestager

on behalf of the European Commission


  1. Different from the Water Framework Directive[1], the objective of EU State aid control is to preserve fair competition in the internal market. In this context, article 1(h) of Regulation 2015/1589[2] provides that “‘interested party’ means any Member State and any person, undertaking or association of undertakings whose interests might be affected by the granting of aid, in particular the beneficiary of the aid, competing undertakings and trade associations”. In line with the case law, in order to qualify as interested party, a natural or legal person must show that the aid has a negative effect on its situation in the market.

The judgment in Case T-9/19 relates to a decision of the European Investment Bank, not a Commission decision on State aid under Article 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

The judgment in Case T-9/19 interprets Regulation (EC) 1367/2006, which implements the Aarhus Convention at EU level and gives, inter alia, environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) the possibility to challenge administrative acts of the EU institutions for lack of compliance with EU environmental law. Article 2(2)(a) of that Regulation excludes decisions taken under competition rules, including State aid decisions – from its scope, in line with the specificities of the EU legal order.

  • However, in the context of the revision of Regulation (EC) 1367/2006 the Commission has stated its intent to examine concerns expressed by the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee as regards state aid (case ACCC/C/2015/128[3]). If appropriate, the Commission will come forward with measures to address the issue, in light of the obligations of the EU and its Member States under the Aarhus Convention and taking into account the rules of Union law concerning State aid.

[1] Directive 2000/60/EC of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy, OJ L 327, 22.12.2000

[2] Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1589 of 13 July 2015 laying down detailed rules for the application of Article 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, OJ L 248, 24.9.2015, p. 9

[3] See, para 132

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