In a statement, satellite operator SES has drawn attention to the fact that the European Court of Justice has rejected just one of the six appeals against the decision by the European Commission.
As a result, the annulment by the ECJ will only hold until the EU Commission will complete the motivation, after which the renewed decision will become enforceable. This would again mean ordering the recovery of State aid granted by Spain to operators of the terrestrial television platform.
“The Court rejected all but one of the appeals (i.e., 5 out of the 6 brought against the First Instance Judgment by the EU Tribunal) brought by the Kingdom of Spain, Abertis and various Spanish Regions. The Court confirmed all legal points brought about by the Commission in its Decision of June 2013, with the exception of one point that has been considered by the Court as lacking enough motivation to be accepted.
“According to the Court the Commission need to more clearly explain the grounds on which they found the aid to be selective, i.e. to grant an advantage to terrestrial operators in light of the objective pursued by the aid regime and of their factual and legal situation. This point was raised in the Appeal brought by Retegal and the Galicia Region and has therefore resulted the annulment of the Commission’s Decision of 2013 on formal grounds.
“This annulment is thus based on formal grounds, lack of motivation, and in no way can the Court’s Judgment be interpreted as legal victory on the merits of the case for those who had brought appeals against the Commission’s Decision and later against the EU’s First Instance Tribunal Judgment of November 2015.
“The above is very important to realise and understand as it should suffice that the EU Commission complete the motivation of that particular aspect of the Decision, re-adopt it and re-issue it for it to be enforceable again.
“Knowing that all appeals have been dismissed by the Court with the exception of that one point that needs completion, there would be very little room, if any at all, for that re-issued Commission Decision to be successfully challenged. This would in turn mean that, by then, the Commission’s Decision would become fully enforceable in Spain in all its aspects concerning the illegal and incompatible State Aids to the DTT.”