EU makes 15 legal pronouncements per day on competition, including state aid cases

Graham Charles Lear
4 min readFeb 29, 2020


“Competition” Commissioner. Margrethe Verstager

What does the EU say about state aid?

“The Treaty generally prohibits State aid unless it is justified by reasons of general economic development. To ensure that this prohibition is respected and exemptions are applied equally across the European Union, the European Commission is in charge of ensuring that State aid complies with EU rules.”

- Definition by EU Commission, accessed 27 Feb 2019

IMPORTANT: It is the fanatical ideologues of the EU Commission who are in charge when it comes to state aid.

In recent weeks the EU bureaucracy and some EU member countries have been introducing red lines into the negotiating mandate for trade talks with the UK. One of the high profile topics is “ze level playing field”, whereby Monsieur Barnier requires the UK to adhere to existing EU law and all future EU laws.

Naturally I along with others — including the UK Government’s head of negotiations David Frost — have pointed out that if the British people had wished to stay under the jurisdiction of a foreign court (the ECJ) and the quasi-judicial EU Commission, they would not have voted to leave in the first place.

The EU’s uneven playing field revealed

In 2019 the EU Commission made 3,470 legal pronouncements on cases relating to competition

That’s around 15 per working day

There were 721 legal case decisions, 310 of which related to State Aid

Of the Commission’s 310 State Aid decisions last year:

Germany appears 47 times — almost five times more than the UK

Guy Verhofstadt’s little Belgium is on there 45 times

Italy and France appear 35 and 33 times respectively

The UK appears only 10 times, despite having been the EU’s second-largest economy

State Aid? It's not the UK that has been threatening “Ze EU level playing field”

State aid decisions by the EU Commission by country 2019

Germany 47

Belgium 45

Italy 35

France 33

UK 10

Who decides — the European Court of Justice, or the EU Commission?

One fact which is never explained properly to the public of EU countries is the involvement of the unelected EU Commission in so many decisive areas of life.

The figures above relate to last year (2019) and come from the EU Commission, which is the first arbiter in most cases of state aid, competition issues, and many other possible “infringements” which can be committed.

So who at the EU Commission deals with competition and state aid?

The first thing to say is that the EU does not have a Commissioner for “Competitiveness”. However, the EU does have a “Competition” Commissioner. Margrethe Verstager was appointed by the then EU Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, in 2014.

She had no experience with commercial competition. Indeed she had no experience in commerce, manufacturing, services, or any other kind of business whatsoever. This is normal in the EU of course.

Ms Verstager has now been re-appointed for a further five years by the new EU Commission President, Frau Ursula von der Leyen.

This means that the EU’s competition and state aid policy — and now its additional policies on digital business — will have been guided for a total period of ten years by Ms Verstager, a woman who has never done a job in the “real world” (outside academia, bureaucracy and politics).

It is only when the EU Commission cannot persuade a member country to bend to its will that it refers cases to the European Court of Justice. This, however, is a highly politicised area.

The firm impression that I have formed over the last four years — based on daily scrutiny of the EU Commission’s work — is that countries with governments of which the EU bureaucrats disapprove are dealt with more harshly and expeditiously than, say, France or Germany.

The EU is currently insisting that the newly independent Brexit Britain shall submit to Ms Verstager and her fanatical, super-statist, ideological colleagues, as well as submitting to the jurisdiction of the EU Court.

As someone memorably said to the EU many years ago: “No. No. No.”

It is so important that the Government stands firm on issues such as these. The EU is quite clearly trying to prevent the UK from becoming even more successful on its departure from the clutches of EU membership

[ Sources: EU Commission |



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.