Classical three-step analysis maintained
On 19 December 2018 the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice ruled on a preliminary request by Germany´s Federal Finance Court that had asked whether exemptions from the real property transfer tax which may under certain conditions be granted in the context of restructuring procedures within groups of companies amounted to materially selective illegal State aid. In his opinion of 19 September 2018 Advocate General Saugmandsgaard Øe had made a fervent plea for the Court of Justice to abandon its classical three-step analysis of material selectivity and to return to an earlier approach on the basis of which a measure would escape the verdict of being branded as materially selective, if any undertaking could benefit from it under the same general conditions. Thereby, he intended to significantly simplify the often enormously onerous analysis required under the three-step approach. The Court of Justice did not follow this recommendation of the Advocate General, but still regarded the tax exemptions not to be materially selective.