EU and EEA State Aid Law - Master
Faculty of Law, University of Bergen
Mål og innhald
This course aims to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the EU/EEA State aid rules and their application to state interventions that amount to aid within the meaning of Articles 107(1) TFEU and 61(1) EEA, respectively. A company that receives government support gains an advantage over its competitors. Therefore, the EU Treaty and the EEA Agreement generally prohibit providing State aid unless it is justified by reasons of general economic development. To ensure that this prohibition is respected and exemptions are applied equally across the EU/EEA, the European Commission and the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA) are in charge of ensuring that the EU/EEA Member States comply with State aid rules. Their decisions are subject to judicial review by the EU Courts and the EFTA Court, respectively.
EU/EEA State aid rules are an essential component of EU/EEA competition law. State aid control has considerably gained in importance since the 1980s. The practical importance of State aid rules was well demonstrated in the wake of the financial crisis in 2008/2009. The ongoing COVID-19 crisis and energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine have one more time confirmed the importance of ensuring that the Member States may support companies in a way that does not undermine the internal market. At the end of 2021, EU Member States granted around ¿940 billion to companies in the context of the COVID-19 crisis, representing about 3.39% of total EU27 GDP on an annual basis.
Indeed, contrary perhaps to popular belief, State aid law is not only about preventing EU/EEA Member States from granting aid that is incompatible with the internal market - it is first and foremost about granting aid that is compatible with the internal market. Such aid is justified when it corrects market failures and/or targets sustainable growth-enhancing policies without adversely affecting trading conditions to an extent contrary to the common interest. Typical examples of "good aid" are aid to energy and environmental protection, regional development, combating unemployment, promoting innovation, research and development, allowing small and medium undertakings (SMEs) to apply for bank loans on preferential terms, and, certainly, aid to companies suffering from the consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak or the Russian aggression in Ukraine.
Importantly, State aid is subject to approval by the Commission (EU Member States) or ESA (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein). Aid that is granted in breach of State aid rules must, as a rule, be repaid by the beneficiary. In the worst case, this may lead to bankruptcy of the beneficiary in question.
This course is designed to provide students with a thorough analysis of the most relevant aspects of State aid law, including but not limited to the following aspects:
- Definition of State aid and objectives of State aid control;
- The notion of the «private investor test» - the state acting as entrepreneur, and issues of cross-subsidization;
- Primary and secondary EU and EEA law on state aid, the relevant case-law of the EU Courts and the EFTA Court;
- State aid control at national level in the EEA Member States;
- Certain relevant aspects of the interplay and boundaries between State aid and Public Procurement law;
- Compatibility assessment and Services of General Economic Interest (SGEIs);
- Procedures before the Commission and the EFTA Surveillance Authority (ESA);
- The scope of judicial review;
- Measures concerning the recovery of aid that was declared incompatible with the internal market.
By the end of the course, students:
- have advanced knowledge of material and procedural rules in the field of State aid as well as the relevant theories, principles and notions
- have advanced knowledge of the rules governing the competences and obligations of national authorities and national courts in the field of State aid
- have good knowledge of the ongoing academic discussions in the field and can present their own opinions when discussing the most debated topics such as State aid and taxation (tax rulings), the use of Temporary Frameworks or supporting the European Green Deal
- have good knowledge of the ongoing modernisation of State aid rules that are being adjusted in order to respond to amongst others climate change and crises resulting from the Covid-19 outbreak and the war in Ukraine
- can update the acquired knowledge by using different resources
- have knowledge of the reasoning behind the State aid law regime and its significance in the legal framework of the internal market as well as its relation to competition law, public procurement law and the rules of the four freedoms.
By the end of the course, students:
- can identify the relevant rules that are applicable to a given case and apply them correctly while explaining and justifying their choice of regulations and the conclusions both orally and in writing
- can identify potential and existing weaknesses of the current regulations and discuss potential solutions
- can provide a thorough analysis of a given topic by referring to relevant regulations, case-law and legal literature.
By the end of the course, students:
- can complete the proposed assignments alone or as part of a group, present and discuss the results orally and in writing
- can communicate the relevant issues in the field and discuss them by using State aid law terminology and theories
- can discuss and assess the role of State aid rules in the context of the EU¿s policies and ambitions concerning amongst others fighting climate change, economic and energy crises.
Krav til forkunnskapar
Two years of law studies.
Good level of English language. Basic knowledge of EU/EEA law.
Combined with JUS291-2-A EU and EEA State Aid Law or JUS2302 EU and EEA State Aid Law, this course will generate no new credits.
Krav til studierett
The course is available for the following students:
- Admitted to the five-year programme in law
- Admitted to the two-year master programme in law
- Admitted to the Master of Laws (LLM) in EU and EEA Law
- Granted admission to elective courses at the Faculty of Law
- Granted additional right to study following completed master in law degree at UiB
- Exchange students at the Faculty of Law
The pre-requirements may still limit certain students' access to the course
Arbeids- og undervisningsformer
Discussion-based lectures and Master Classes.
During the lectures, students will be presented with the theory (the relevant regulations, principles, and theories in the field) and its application by discussing examples of State aid cases.In addition, students will have access to dedicated modules for self-study via the online learning support system Mitt UiB. The modules in Mitt UiB will address selected topics in the field.
Master Classes look to go one step further than regular lectures - requiring more in-depth and specific preparation (i.e. reading of specific cases, articles, reports etc.), and charging students with responsibility for teaching and learning from each other through the use of flipped classrooms, group and/or individual presentations and debates.
Participation in master classes, including a student presentation as part of the master classes.
4-hour digital school exam.
The students will have to answer two theoretical questions and provide an analysis of a case rising State aid issues. During the course students will learn how to approach such assignments.
Information about digital examination can be found here:
Hjelpemiddel til eksamen
Support materials allowed during school exam
See section 3-5 of the Supplementary Regulations for Studies at the Faculty of Law at the University of Bergen.
Special regulations about dictionaries
- According to the Regulations for Studies, one dictionary is permitted support material during the examination. Bilingual dictionaries containing for example both Norwegian-English and English-Norwegian are considered as one dictionary.
- Bilingual dictionaries to/from the same two languages - for example Norwegian-English/English-Norwegian - in two different volumes are also considered as one dictionary (irrespective of publisher or edition).
- Dictionaries as described above cannot be combined with any other types of dictionaries.
- Any kind of combination which makes up more than two physical volumes is forbidden.
- In case a student has a special need for any other combination than the above mentioned, such combination has to be clarified with/approved by the course coordinator minimum two weeks before the exam. Students who have not been granted permission to have a special combination minimum two weeks before the exam will be subject to the usual regulations (Section 3-5) about examination support materials.
A-E for passed, F for failed
The reading list will be ready 1 December for the spring semester.
According to the administrative arrangements for course evaluation at the Faculty of Law
The Academic Affairs Committee (Studieutvalget) at the Faculty of Law is responsible for ensuring the material content, structure and quality of the course.
Associate Professor Malgorzata Cyndecka
The Faculty of Law¿s section for students and academic affairs (Studieseksjonen) is responsible for administering the programme.