The EU’s General Court has ended a COVID-19 subsidy for Italian licensed airlines in a case brought by Ryanair. File photo by Stringer/EPA-EFE
May 24 (UPI) — The European Union’s General Court ruled Wednesday to strike down a $140 million COVID-19 Italian government subsidy that favors Italian-licensed airlines over other EU carriers.
The General Court said in its ruling that it overturned the European Commission’s decision not to object to Italian subsidies “because it did not provide reasons for the commission’s decision.”
“The Commission did not clearly and transparently state the reasons why it decided that such a requirement does not violate ‘other provisions of Union law,'” the court said.
The case was brought in 2021 by Ryanair, Italy’s largest airline, which was not subsidized by the Italian government.
“One of the EU’s greatest achievements is the creation of a single air transport market,” said Ryanair. statement. “The European Commission’s approval of an aid scheme intended only for airlines with an air transport license issued by the Italian state contradicts the basic principles of EU law.
Ryanair said more than £43bn was lost during the pandemic. USD “discriminatory state subsidies were given to EU flag carriers”.
The airline said that if the EU courts do not stop this General Court ruling, these huge subsidies will distort the airline market for decades to come.
“While the COVID-19 crisis has caused significant damage to all airlines, many national governments, including Italy, have rushed to apply discriminatory subsidy schemes targeting only their own former flag carriers, ignoring other airlines that contribute to the European Union’s economy and connectivity. “, the company said.
Ryanair said the court ruling was “a triumph for fair competition and consumers across the EU”.
“Undistorted competition eliminates inefficiencies and benefits consumers through low prices and choice.” On the other hand, unjustified subsidies encourage inefficiency and will harm consumers for decades to come,” Ryanair said in a statement.
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