THE FITNESS CHECK AND THE DIVINE MESSAGE
As early as in January 2019 the European Commission started its fitness check performed on the current legal framework for EU State aid control. Said project sounded, at least when hearing about it in the first place, quite comprehensive. It encompassed the General Block Exemption Regulation, the De-minimis – Regulation, the different guidelines for regional aid, for aid for research, development and innovation, aid for risk capital measures, environmental and energy aid, rescue and restructuring aid for undertakings in difficulty as well as for airports and airlines and, finally so, the communication on aid for projects of common European interest.
Subsequent to the prolongation of the temporal application of these legislative instruments enacted in July 2020, one currently finds a time-table on the website of the Directorate General for Competition of the European Commission, which, given the challenges posed by the current Covid 19 pandemia, looks hardly achievable.
What is even more astonishing than this apparent detachment from realism is the fact that – despite the lack of success of the last reform of the rules pertaining to the procedure in State aid matters, now embedded in Regulation 2015/1589 – the ongoing reform does touch upon this subject-matter at all.
This reminds very vividly of the story of Bavarian author Ludwig Thomas on the “The fellow from Munich in heaven”. This fellow was, in said story, sent to Munich by the Heavenly Father charged with the mission to transmit the divine message to the Bavarian government. As, however, said angel Aloysius, as the righteous individual was named in the story, ended up in his customary pub indulging in never-ending consumption of Bavarian beer, he completely forgot about his mission, which is why the Bavarian government has been kept waiting for the divine message up to the present day.
Therefore there must – as there is simply no other explanation for the lack of any reform eagerness for the outdated procedural rules that are entirely out of touch with the realities of the 21st century – be another angel carrying a divine message on how to reform State aid procedure with him, which for some enigmatic reason he keeps failing to deliver to the European Commission.