EU General Court dismisses appeals in landmark state aid decisions – Trial, appeals and compensation

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The EU General Court has completely rejected appeals by the City of Helsinki and Helsingin Bussiliikenne in landmark state aid decisions.

We represent the largest Nordic bus company Nobina in a state aid case concerning loans granted by the City of Helsinki to its wholly owned bus company Helsingin Bussiliikenne Oy (HelB). We supported Nobina by preparing a complaint to the European Commission in 2011, then we helped Nobina throughout the Commission’s multi-year investigation which culminated in a decision in 2019 that state aid is illegal and must be repaid. The Commission ordered HelB and the new company which had purchased HelB’s assets to repay illegal state aid of around EUR 54 million plus interest, as the aid had distorted the market for buses in the Helsinki region. After Helsinki and HelB appealed the Commission’s decision, Dittmar & Indrenius represented Nobina before the General Court (cases T-597/19 and T-603/19) supporting the Commission.

On September 14, 2022, the EU General Court dismissed Helsinki’s and HelB’s appeals completely and ordered Helsinki and HelB to pay the Commission’s and Nobina’s legal costs.

The consequence of these judgments is that municipalities should be increasingly aware of the limits of how they can support their own businesses. In addition, those buying a business or its assets should be aware that they may be jointly and severally liable to repay illegal state aid with the business that received it.

The cases are linked below:

T-597/19

T-603/19

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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