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Commission orders repayment of illegal state aid provided to Spanish shipyards

17 July 2013

The Commission has released a decision today stating that a Spanish scheme for the purchase of ships through leasing and financing is “partly incompatible” with the rules on state aid. The effect of the decision is that Spain must recover the elements of aid which were illegal with the actual amounts to be determined by the Spanish government and Commission in the near future.

There have been waves of protests in Spanish shipyards regarding the Commission’s investigation and the latest decision that aid will need to be repaid, jeopardising thousands of jobs across Spain’s 19 remaining shipyards, will likely lead to further demonstrations. However, the news may be welcome in other European shipyards which have not received the same subsidies and so have been competitively disadvantaged.

The Commission’s decision certainly shows that it is not afraid to enforce the rules on state aid in a manner which could lead to further job losses in already struggling economies, highlighting the importance of member states ensuring compliance.

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