© Reuters. EU lawyer asks to recalculate aid to construction sites that Spain must recover
Brussels, Sept. but he recommended recalculating the aid to be recovered from the Spanish authorities.
In his statement of conclusions, not binding in view of the future sentence to be handed down by the Luxembourg court, the lawyer Pritt Pikamäe believes that the calculation method used by Brussels “suffers from a flaw in reasoning”, for which the 2020 judgment which dismissed Spain’s appeal, Lico Leasin and PYMAR must be set aside on this point.
In his view, the recovery of the aid “must restore the situation before the granting of the aid”, so it is necessary to quantify “exactly” the part that must be recovered “so that (the company) only loses the benefit that he enjoyed himself against his competitors.
“The recovery of a larger amount would weaken the previous competitive position of the aid beneficiary and, therefore, would have a sanctioning nature”, warns the Advocate General.
On the contrary, the Advocate General considers “correct” the method adopted by the Court to examine whether the system of tax credits was selective and shares the analysis that indicates that the granting of the aid was subject to obtaining an authorization preventive. “it was granted by the Tax Administration by virtue of a wide discretion”.
This power, adds Pikamäe, was based on “vague criteria devoid of any objective character” and allowed the Spanish tax authorities to decide which entities would benefit from that authorization or the conditions thereof, which justifies the classification of the system as “selective”.
The case dates back to 2013 when the tax aid scheme for investments in shipyards was declared illegal by the then Commissioner for Competition, the Spanish Joaquín Almunia, and the Attorney General stated, for this reason and “in the interest of the interested parties” that the Court of Justice to resolve the case and not refer it back to lower grades.
Although the bonus scheme was launched in 2002, Brussels ordered the recovery of aid granted to shipyards under this scheme between 2007 and 2011 after concluding that the scheme was contrary to EU state aid rules.
The Spanish government and the companies Lico Leasing and Small and Medium Astilleros Sociedad de Reconversión appealed against this decision, which was initially annulled by the EU Court in December 2017. Following the appeal lodged by the EU executive, the Court of Justice of the EU – the supreme body – ordered to reopen the case.
(More information on the European Union at euroefe.euractiv.es)