Request for a preliminary ruling from the Administratīvā rajona tiesa (Latvia) lodged on 12 March 2021 – SIA BALTIJAS STARPTAUTISKĀ AKADĒMIJA v Latvijas Zinātnes padome

(Case C-164/21)

Language of the case: Latvian

Referring court

Administratīvā rajona tiesa

Parties to the main proceedings

Applicant: SIA BALTIJAS STARPTAUTISKĀ AKADĒMIJA

Defendant: Latvijas Zinātnes padome

Questions referred

Can a (private law) organisation which has various principal activities, including research, but most of whose revenue comes from providing educational services for consideration, be classed as an entity within the meaning of Article 2(83) of Regulation No 651/2014? 1

Is it justified to apply a requirement regarding the proportion of financing (revenues and costs) obtained from economic and non-economic activities in order to determine whether the entity satisfies the requirement in Article 2(83) of Regulation No 651/2014 that the primary goal of the entity’s activities must be to independently conduct fundamental research, industrial research or experimental development or to widely disseminate the results of such activities by way of teaching, publication or knowledge transfer? If the answer is that it is justified, what would be an appropriate proportion of financing from economic and non-economic activities to use in determining the primary goal of the entity’s activities?

Is it justified, pursuant to Article 2(83) of Regulation No 651/2014, to apply a requirement that the revenues obtained from the principal activity should be re-invested in the principal activities of the entity in question, and must other aspects be assessed in order to determine properly the primary goal of the activities of the institution submitting the project proposal? Would the use made of the revenues obtained (whether they are reinvested in the principal activities or, for example, in the case of a private founder, paid out as dividends to the shareholders) alter that assessment, even in a situation in which most of the revenues come from fees for educational services?

Is the legal status of the members of the institution submitting the project proposal ― that is to say, whether it is a company formed under commercial law in order to carry on an economic activity (an activity for consideration) with the objective of making a profit [Article 1 of the Komerclikums (Commercial Code)] or whether its members or shareholders are natural or legal persons whose objective is to make a profit (including through the provision of educational services for consideration) or were founded for non-profit purposes (in the case of an association or foundation, for example) ― decisive in determining whether the institution satisfies the definition in Article 2(83) of Regulation No 651/2014?

Are the proportion of domestic students and students from EU Member States as compared with the proportion of foreign students (from third States) and the fact that the goal of the principal activity pursued by the institution submitting the project proposal is to provide students with higher education and qualifications that are competitive in the international labour market in accordance with current international requirements (paragraph 5 of the applicant’s statutes) decisive in assessing whether the activities of the institution submitting the project proposal are economic in nature?

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1     Commission Regulation (EU) No 651/2014 of 17 June 2014 declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market in application of Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty (OJ 2014 L 187, p. 1).