State aid: Commission finds no aid given to Greek industrial parks manager ETVA VIPE
The European Commission has concluded that certain public measures in favour of industrial park manager ETVA Industrial Areas SA (‘ETVA VIPE') do not constitute State aid within the meaning of EU rules.
ETVA VIPE is a private company managing several industrial parks in Greece. It is the successor of a public company, the Hellenic Industrial Development Bank, that was previously entrusted with the development and management of these industrial parks.
In 2019, the Commission received a complaint by companies operating in the premises of industrial parks in Greece managed by ETVA VIPE, alleging that certain public measures adopted by Greece constituted illegal State aid. In particular, the complainants questioned the compatibility with State aid rules of the Greek authorities' decisions to:
- allow certain operating terms (e.g. charging of management and reserve fund fees) to come into effect in the industrial parks in which the complainants are established, even though these terms allegedly favour only ETVA VIPE; and
- reject an application of certain companies wanting to take over the management of a building block located at one of the industrial parks.
The Commission's assessment
The Commission assessed the Greek measures under EU State aid rules, in particular Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU').
The Commission found that:
- The possibility for ETVA VIPE to charge companies established in the industrial parks it manages (i) a management fee and (ii) a fee to set up a reserve fund, per industrial park, does not constitute State aid, as the fees do not amount to State resources within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU.
- The possibility for ETVA VIPE to impose sanctions (e.g. cut-off access to water supply) on companies established in the industrial parks it manages, which fail to fulfil their financial obligations vis-à-vis ETVA VIPE, does not entail the transfer of public funds and therefore does not amount to State aid.
- The possibility for ETVA VIPE to (i) charge companies established in the industrial parks it manages for joint expenses beyond their actual consumption, and (ii) calculate its management fee as a percentage of the joint expenses, does not constitute State aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) TFEU, as it cannot be considered to be an advantage granted by the State.
- The rejection by the Greek authorities of an application by some companies to take over the management of a building block located at one of the industrial parks managed by ETVA VIPE does not entail the transfer of public funds and therefore does not constitute State aid.
On this basis, the Commission found that the measures do not constitute State aid within the meaning of EU law.
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