European Commission refers Greece to Court of Justice for failing to recover incompatible state aid

The European Commission has referred Greece to the European Court of Justice for failing to recover incompatible state aid from Greek casinos and from Aluminium of Greece.

In 2009, the Commission received a complaint about the unfair taxation of private casinos in Greece, with a €12 per person admissions tax imposed on private casinos, while the public casinos of Mont Parnès and Corfu and the private casino of Thessaloniki were only paying €4.80. This was deemed to be providing a selective advantage to certain casinos, and the Greek government was ordered to recover the aid granted since 1999. The government took 16 months to remove the measure in favour of the casinos, and is yet to recover the full (unspecified) amount due.

It is also yet to have recovered illegal state aid to Aluminium of Greece in the form of preferential electricity tariffs – some €17.4m.

Joaquín Almunia, vice president of the Commission in charge of competition policy, said:

Member States have numerous possibilities to support business in line with EU state aid rules. However, when subsidies procure distortive advantages to selected companies without furthering any common interest goal they must be recovered swiftly. This is necessary to restore a level playing field and to preserve the effectiveness of the rules themselves.