NOTICE FROM THE COMMISSION
Towards an effective implementation of Commission decisions ordering Member States to recover
unlawful and incompatible State aid
In 2005, the Commission presented its road map for State aid reform in its State Aid Action Plan (1).
The programme of reform will improve the effectiveness, transparency and credibility of the EU State
aid regime. At the heart of the Action Plan is the principle of
‘less and better targeted State aid’. The
central objective is to encourage Member States to reduce their overall aid levels, whilst redirecting State
aid resources at objectives having a clear Community interest. To achieve this, the Commission is
committed to continue taking a strict approach towards the most distortive types of aid, in particular
towards unlawful and incompatible aid.
In recent years, the Commission has demonstrated that it is prepared to take a strong stance against
unlawful aid. Ever since the entry into force of the Council Regulation (EC) No 659/1999 (2) (‘the Proce-
dural Regulation’), it has systematically ordered Member States to recover any unlawful aid found to be
incompatible with the common market, unless it considered that this would be contrary to a principle
of Community law. Since 2000, it has adopted 110 such recovery decisions.
It is essential for the integrity of the State aid regime that these Commission decisions ordering Member
States to recover unlawful State aid (hereafter
‘recovery decisions’) are enforced in an effective and
immediate manner. The information collected by the Commission in recent years shows that there is
cause for real concern in this respect. Experience shows that there is practically not a single case in
which recovery was completed within the deadline set out in the recovery decision. Recent editions of
the State aid Scoreboard also show that 45 % of all recovery decisions adopted in 2000-2001 had still
not been implemented by June 2006.
In 2004, the Commission ordered a comparative study o