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CJ of EU on State aid during the Covid-19 pandemic

The Court dismisses the appeals by Ryanair on support measures by France and Sweden in 2020

In March 2020, France notified the European Commission of an aid measure in the form of a deferral of the payment of civil aviation tax and solidarity tax on airline tickets. That deferral, which benefited airlines holding a French licence, involved postponing the payment of those taxes to 1 January 2021 and then spreading payments over a period of 24 months, that is to say, until 31 December 2022. 

In April 2020, Sweden, for its part, notified the Commission of an aid measure in the form of a loan guarantee scheme of up to five billion Swedish kronor (SEK) to support airlines holding a Swedish operating licence in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The Commission approved the aid measures. Ryanair challenged those approval decisions before the General Court of the European Union; that court dismissed the actions after finding that the contested aid measures were compliant with EU law. It took the view that the Swedish aid scheme was presumed to have been adopted in the interest of the European Union. Furthermore, the deferral put in place by France was appropriate to make good the economic damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and did not amount to discrimination. 

Ryanair appealed to the Court of Justice. The Court of Justice rejected yesterday all the arguments put forward by the airline and thus confirms the judgments of the General Court. 

The Court reaffirms, in particular, that aid cannot be considered incompatible with the internal market for reasons that are linked solely to whether the aid is selective or distorts or threatens to distort competition.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency