Language of document : ECLI:EU:T:2019:437


 


 



Judgment of the General Court (Sixth Chamber) of 20 June 2019 –
a&o hostel and hotel Berlin v Commission

(Case T578/17)

(State aid — Operating aid — Youth hostel in Berlin — Rent-free use of a publicly owned property — Decision declaring the potential aid compatible with the internal market — Article 107(3)(c) TFEU — Serious difficulties)

1.      Judicial proceedings — Intervention — Objection of inadmissibility not raised by the defendant — Inadmissibility — Absolute bar to proceeding — To be considered of the Court's own motion

(Statute of the Court of Justice, Arts 40, fourth para.; Rules of Procedure of the General Court, Arts 129 and 142(3))

(see para. 36)

2.      Action for annulment — Natural or legal persons — Measures of direct and individual concern to them — Commission decision declaring State aid to be compatible with the common market without initiating the formal investigation procedure — Action by interested parties within the meaning of Article 108(2) TFEU — Admissibility — Conditions

(Arts 108(2) and (3) and 263, fourth para. TFEU; Council Regulation 2015/1589, Art. 1(h))

(see paras 37-54)

3.      State aid — Examination by the Commission — Preliminary review and main review — Commission’s duty to initiate the main review procedure in the event of serious difficulties — Meaning of serious difficulties — Objective nature — Judicial review — Scope

(Arts 107(1) and 108(2) and (3) TFEU)

(see paras 57-60)

4.      State aid — Examination by the Commission — Preliminary review and main review — Commission’s duty to initiate the main review procedure in the event of serious difficulties — Circumstances enabling the existence of such difficulties to be determined — Judicial review — Burden of proof

(Art. 107(3) TFEU)

(see paras 63-67)

5.      State aid — Prohibition — Exceptions — Aid capable of benefiting from the derogation under Article 107(3)(c) TFEU — Operating aid — Not included — Exceptions

(Art. 107(3)(c) TFEU)

(see paras 72-79)

6.      State aid — Examination by the Commission — Preliminary review and main review — Compatibility of aid with the internal market — Difficulties of assessment — Commission's duty to initiate the main review procedure — Circumstances enabling the existence of such difficulties to be determined — Considerations in the Commission decision from which it could not be found that the State aid was an incentive, necessary and proportionate or to preclude that aid affecting trading conditions between the Member States

(Art. 107(3)(c) TFEU; Council Regulation 2015/1589, Art. 4(3))

(see paras 90-118, 124-128)

Re:

Application under Article 263 TFEU seeking the annulment of Commission Decision C(2017) 3220 final of 29 May 2017 on State aid SA.43145 (2016/FC) — Germany, concerning the allegedly unlawful non-fiscal State aid granted to Jugendherberge Berlin Ostkreuz gGmbH, a summary of which was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJ 2017 C 193, p. 1).

Operative part

The Court:

1.

Annuls Commission Decision C(2017) 3220 final of 29 May 2017 on State aid SA.43145 (2016/FC) — Germany, concerning the allegedly unlawful non-fiscal State aid granted to Jugendherberge Berlin Ostkreuz gGmbH;

2.

Orders the European Commission to bear its own costs and to pay those incurred by a&o hostel and hotel Berlin GmbH;

3.

Orders the Federal Republic of Germany to bear its own costs.