COVID-19 Key EU Developments, Policy & Regulatory Update No. 92
05 December 2022
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This regular alert covers key regulatory EU developments related
to the COVID-19 situation. It does not purport to provide an
exhaustive overview of developments and contains no analysis or
LATEST KEY DEVELOPMENTS
Competition & State Aid
- EU General Court fully dismisses Ryanair challenge to Croatia
Airlines COVID-19 aid
- " European Commission approves further schemes under
Ukraine Temporary Crisis Framework
Trade / Export Controls
- European Commission presents Communication on ensuring
availability and affordability of fertilisers
- Latest meeting of EU-US Task Force on Energy Security
Medicines and Medical Devices
- HERA signs Joint Procurement Framework Contract of up to 2
million doses of monkeypox vaccine
Cybersecurity, Privacy & Data Protection
- Digital Services Act: Entry into force and Q&As
- Digital Markets Act: Entry into force and Q&As
COMPETITION & STATE AID
EU General Court fully dismisses Ryanair challenge to
Croatia Airlines COVID-19 aid (see here)
On 9 November 2022, the General Court (GC) fully dismissed
Ryanair's challenge, launched on 19 February 2021, of a
Commission Decision approving a Croatian State aid measure to
compensate Croatia Airlines in the context of alleged damages
suffered following the COVID-19 outbreak (T111/21 Ryanair v.
The contested Decision (SA.55373 (2020/N) of 30 November 2020)
had approved Croatia's EUR 11.7 million direct grant to
state-owned Croatia Airlines as compatible with State aid
The GC, in particular, dismissed Ryanair's claims that the
Commission breached its procedural rights:
- Ryanair alleged that the Commission carried out an
insufficient examination during the preliminary examination
stage and should have initiated a formal
investigation. Ryanair contended that the Commission had
failed to do so and therefore deprived it of the opportunity to
submit its comments on Croatia's notified measure and to
provide the Commission with, in particular, factual
In dismissing this claim, the GC ruled in particular that Ryanair
had not demonstrated the existence of serious difficulties in
appraising the alleged damage suffered by Croatia Airlines that
would have triggered a formal investigation (e.g., the GC held that
Ryanair erroneously deemed that domestic flights in Croatia were
not affected by the restrictions imposed by the Croatian
authorities, and thus claimed that the Commission had overestimated
the damage. The GC, however, found that the contested Decision had
set out that the Croatia's restrictive measures had affected
both Croatia Airlines' international and domestic
- Ryanair further contended that the Commission failed to
fulfil its obligation to state reasons, e.g. by failing to
justify the fact that Croatia Airlines was distinguished from other
airlines as the only one to receive aid in the form of
compensation, whereas other airlines, including Ryanair, also
suffered damage from the COVID-19 pandemic.
In dismissing this claim, the GC ruled in particular that by
definition, individual aid benefits only one company, to the
exclusion of all other companies, including those in a comparable
situation. Consequently, the nature of such individual aid results
in difference in treatment, or even discrimination, which is
nevertheless inherent in the individual character of that measure.
It also noted that Member States are not required to grant aid to
all victims of damage caused by an exceptional occurrence referred
to in State aid rules under Article 107(2)(b) TFEU. Thus, the
contested Decision was not required to explain why it considered it
lawful to grant the aid at issue solely to Croatia Airlines.
The GC thus rejected Ryanair's grounds alleging procedural
errors and dismissed the action in its entirety.
European Commission approves further schemes under
Ukraine Temporary Crisis Framework (see here)
The Commission continues to approve additional measures under
the State aid Temporary Crisis Framework for State Aid measures in
the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
To recall, in adopting this Crisis Framework, the Commission
noted that the conflict had significantly impacted the energy
market, and steep rises in energy prices had affected various
economic sectors, including some of those particularly affected by
the COVID-19 pandemic, such as transport and tourism. The conflict
has also disrupted supply chains for both EU imports from Ukraine
(in particular, cereals and vegetable oils) and EU exports to
The Commission recently prolonged (until 31 December 2023
(instead of 31 December 2022)) and expanded the Crisis Framework
(see Jones Day COVID-19 Update No. 90 of 28 October
Among the latest schemes under the Crisis Framework (until 18
- €500 million Romanian scheme to support companies in the
context of Russia's war against Ukraine.
- €1.23 billion Czech scheme to support the economy in the
context of Russia's war against Ukraine.
- €2.1 million Latvian scheme to support some producers
active in the agriculture sector in the context of the Russia's
war against Ukraine.
- €30 million scheme to support companies in the context of
Russia's war against Ukraine.
- €60 million Irish scheme to support the agricultural
sector, in particular producers of fodder, in the context of the
Russia's war against Ukraine.
- Approved modification of Luxembourg scheme, including a budget
increase of €150 million, aimed at supporting companies in the
context of the war led by Russia against Ukraine.
Notably, the Crisis Framework complements the various
possibilities for Member States to design measures in line with
existing EU State aid rules. For instance, State aid measures under
the Crisis Framework may be cumulated with aid granted under the
COVID-19 Temporary Framework, provided that their respective
cumulation rules are respected.
The Crisis Framework, applicable since 1 February 2022, will be
in place until 31 December 2023. During its period of application,
the Commission will keep the Framework under review in light of
developments regarding the energy markets, other input markets, and
the general economic situation. Prior to the Crisis Framework's
end date, and in view of maintaining legal certainty, the
Commission will assess whether it should be prolonged.
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