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State Aid for Environmental Protection—The Commission's new Guidelines and the new General Block Exemption Regulation

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With its new guidelines on State aid for environmental protection, the European Commission seeks to further implement the roadmap for state aid reform 2005–2009 laid down in its State Aid Action Plan and thus to strive for "less and better targeted aid" in the field of environmental protection. Another important change in the legal regime applicable to State aid for environmental protection is brought about by the new General Block Exemption Regulation which, for the first time, contains several block exemption provisions for aid in this field. The new Guidelines—together with the respective provisions in the new General Block Exemption Regulation—are a remarkable step in that they entail a considerable increase in regulatory density and are thereby increasing "red tape" in this field. The new Guidelines are evidence of a more and more palpable tendency of the European Commission to use its power to examine aid for its compatibility with the common market under Article 87(3) EC to regulate in areas of law in which it is not competent to legislate. In doing so, it does not only interfere with competences of the Member States and of the other Community institutions but also risks contradiction to its own decisions in other fields.


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