Enforcement of State aid law at national level. The relationship
The control of state aid is an unique fea ture of competition policy in the Eur opean
Union. This pa per sets out to show the ba lance between Member States a nd the Euro pean
Union in the ar ea of state aid policy.
After a brief overview of the principles under lying the enforcement of state aid la w
in the Member States, we will describe the basic princip les under lying the division of
responsibilities between the Commission and national cour ts in state aids matter s, then we
will discuss the two main responsibilities facing national courts – protecting competitors
aga inst unlawful aid and ensuring effective recovery of illegal and incompatible a id.
Keywords: Europea n Union, State a id, national courts, Eur opean Commission.
JEL Classification: K23
This paper sets out to show the balance between Member States and the
European Union in the area of State aid policy. The State aid control is unique
feature of competition policy in the European Union. Only in the EFTA there is a
similar system of supranational control over the subsidies granted by States to
undertakings, a system which owes its existence to the need to harmonize
competition policies in the European Economic Area2.
Under the principle of cooperation in good faith laid down in Article 4(3)
TEU, Member States are required to nullify the unlawful consequences of a breach
of European Union law3. Such an obligation is owed, within the sphere of its
competence, by every organ of the Member State concerned. Thus national courts
are also under such an obligation4.
In the State aid Scoreboard of Autumn 2008, the Commission considers
that State aid enforcement by national courts can play an important role in the
overall system of State aid control. National courts are often well placed to protect
individual rights affected by violations of the State aid rules and can offer quick
1 Agnieszka Knade-Plaskacz - Faculty of Law and Administration, Nicolaus Copernicus University in
Torun, Poland, email@example.com
2 See: C. Buelens, G. Garnier, M. Johnson and R. Meiklejohn, The economic ana lysis of state a id:
Some open questions. “European Economy. Economic Papers”, 286/2007, p. 2.
3 See inter alia: Joined Cases C 6/90 and C-9/90 F rancovich and Other s  ECR I-5357,
4 F or description and analysis of the member states varying approaches in applying EU State aid
rules, see: C. Buts, T. Joris, M. Jegers, State aid policy in EU Member States. It's a different game
they play, “European State Aid Law Quarterly” 2013, Vol. 1, pp. 330-342.