Chapter 2: State Aid Control from a Political Science Perspective
Michael Blauberger This chapter provides an overview of the political science literature on the development of European Union (EU) State aid control and on its impact at the domestic level. First, while Treaty provisions on State aid have remained largely unchanged since the original Treaties of Rome of 1957, it took several decades for the Commission to realise true enforcement powers. The Commission’s incremental soft law approach, supportive Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) jurisprudence, as well as private complainants, are considered in the literature as major factors that helped to overcome initial Member State resistance to State aid control. Partly under-researched, however, are the internal dynamics of the Commission shaping its particular mix of competition, regional, industrial policies which underlie European State aid rules. Second, the effectiveness of EU State aid control in restricting and/or redirecting Member State subsidies is discussed controversially in the political science and political economy literature. Several authors argue that EU State aid control is not only constraining Member States’ ability to distort competition in the internal market, but it increasingly influences the targets of national State aid policies. Some, however, partly dispute these trends or they propose alternative explanations that focus less on European influences. I. INTRODUCTION European State aid rule- and decision-making has always been politically sensitive.1 In contrast to antitrust or mergers, the Commission’s practice in the field of State aid control primarily targets Member State policies, and only indirectly firms (Ehlermann 1995). Moreover, given their strong distributive element, State...
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