Chapter 17: State aid law and disability
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In the last decade, the European Commission, when applying and implementing European Union (EU) State aid law, has sought to achieve a balance between pursuing the main objective of preserving competition in the internal market, on the one hand, and pursuing social objectives, on the other hand, an aim which is also enshrined in the Treaties. This ‘social dimension’ is particularly visible when it comes to the interplay between State aid law and disability policy, and a renewed focus on this dimension of State aid law has been prompted by the EU ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). This chapter discusses the extent to which EU State aid law and policy indirectly contributes to protecting and promoting the rights of persons with disabilities. It examines whether the Commission, in exercising State aid control, has streamlined national funding towards the implementation of the CRPD. In particular, the chapter discusses the extent to which the goal of promoting specific disability rights or general objectives such as accessibility may lead to an aid measure being deemed compatible with the internal market under the derogations contained in Articles 107(2) and 107(3) TFEU. It also discusses how disability concerns feature in secondary legislation, in particular, the Commission Regulation (EU) 651/2014, better known as the General Block Exemption Regulation.

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