The Court of Justice of the European Union (“ECJ”) overruled the judgment of the General Court (“GC”), which annulled the Commission’s decision finding that France had granted France Télécom illegal state aid. The GC had annulled the Commission’s decision that the shareholder loan granted by France to France Télécom in December 2002 in the form of a EUR 9 billion credit line, which loan was never accepted by France Télécom, constituted state aid incompatible with EU law when placed in the context of the declarations from July 2002 that the French State would take whatever decisions were necessary to overcome France Télécom’s financial difficulties. The ECJ found that the GC wrongly required a close connection between the advantage and the commitment of State resources. According to the ECJ, when determining the existence of state aid, the Commission must establish a sufficiently direct link between the advantage given to the beneficiary and a reduction of the State budget or a sufficiently concrete economic risk of burdens on that budget. However, the ECJ ruled that contrary to what the GC found, it is not necessary that such a reduction, or even such a risk, should correspond or be equivalent to that advantage, or that the advantage should have as its counterpoint such a reduction or such a risk, or be of the same nature as the commitment of State resources from which it derives. Therefore, the ECJ set aside the GC’s judgment and gave final judgment finding that the Commission was correct in finding that an advantage was granted through state resources within the meaning of Article 107(1) of the TFEU. However, the ECJ referred the appeals on the arguments raised by France and France Télécom back to GC. Source: Court of Justice of the European Union Press Release 19/3/2013