Considerations for aid recipients

Legal right to state aid

Is there a legal right for businesses to obtain state aid or is the granting of aid completely within the authorities’ discretion?

In Greece, there is no general principle pursuant to which businesses have a legal right to obtain state aid. Further, the authorities’ discretion can be limited by the conditions that must be met for a company to be entitled to a specific aid measure. If these conditions are detailed and objective, then companies meeting them have in principle a legal right to obtain the aid in question, within the limits of the budget available for that measure.

Main award criteria

What are the main criteria the national authorities will consider before making an award?

Depending on the type of the aid measure in question, the Greek authorities consider a wide-ranging set of criteria before making an award, including culture and heritage conservation, support for SMEs, regional development, job creation and R&D&I.

Strategic considerations and best practice

What are the main strategic considerations and best practices for successful applications for aid?

As explained above, aid for regional and sectoral development is the most common type of aid in Greece, and aid in the railway sector is also significant.

There are no specific best practices for successful aid applications, other than meeting the required conditions for the requested aid. Certain conditions are imposed directly by EU law - for example, having repaid any past incompatible aid.

Challenging refusal to grant aid

How may unsuccessful applicants challenge national authorities’ refusal to grant aid?

The procedure for granting state aid is subject to the control of the judge who examines the legality of the refusal to grant aid. Depending on the legal basis on which the aid was requested, administrative or civil courts are competent to hear the case of unsuccessful applicants.

Administrative courts

In most cases, the Greek administrative courts are competent to hear state aid matters. According to article 1(4)(f) of Law No. 1406/1983, the administrative courts have jurisdiction regarding disputes that derive from the issuance of administrative acts that refer to the award of European or national aid, subsidies and similar benefits, as well as the administrative acts that impose a relevant measure or sanction. State aid cases are introduced before the Greek administrative courts of first instance.

However, where the aid is linked to a tax measure of an amount exceeding €150,000 or a contract awarded after a public procurement procedure, the case is introduced to the administrative court of appeals, as court of first instance.

Finally, in case the measure is part of an investment scheme, the Supreme Administrative Court is competent pursuant to article 110, paragraph 14 of Law No. 4055/2012.

Civil courts

If aid is granted via a contract between the beneficiary and an administrative body under the provisions of private law, then the civil courts are competent to examine the case.

Involvement in EU investigation and notification process

To what extent is the aid recipient involved in the EU investigation and notification process?

All will depend on the nature of the aid measure and of the lead ministry in charge.

It must be noted that formally, the procedure with the European Commission is strictly bilateral, the national authorities being in direct contact with the Directorate-General for Competition of the European Commission through Greece’s Permanent Representation.

In the event of aid schemes, the aid beneficiaries are generally not involved, except through preliminary public consultations.

Concerning individual aid, the beneficiary is generally more closely involved, including in the drafting of the aid measures or the responses to questions by the European Commission about specific measures being investigated. This is particularly the case in restructuring or rescue aid cases and within the framework of services of general economic interest measures.

In case of close involvement, the aid beneficiary usually has access to the entire file and can attend meetings between the national authorities and the Commission (the latter being decided on a case-by-case basis depending on the political situation).