From Negative to Positive Integration: European State Aid Control Through Soft and Hard Law

Michael Blauberger
2008 Social Science Research Network  
Michael Blauberger is a researcher at the Collaborative Research Center 597 "Transformations of the State" at the University of Bremen. He was formerly a doctoral fellow at the MPIfG. MPIfG Discussion Papers are refereed scholarly papers of the kind that are publishable in a peer-reviewed disciplinary journal. Their objective is to contribute to the cumulative improvement of theoretical knowledge. The papers can be ordered from the institute for a small fee (hard
more » ... or downloaded free of charge (PDF). Abstract European state aid control, a part of competition policy, typically follows the logic of negative integration. It significantly constrains the potential for Member States to distort competition by reducing their ability to subsidize industry. In addition, this paper argues, ambiguous Treaty rules and heterogeneous Member States' preferences have enabled the European Commission to act as a supranational entrepreneur, not only enforcing the prohibition of distortive state aid, but also developing its own vision of "good" state aid policy. In order to prevent or to settle political conflict about individual decisions, the Commission has sought to establish more general criteria for the state aid which it still deems admissible. These criteria have been codified into a complex system of soft law and, more recently, hard state aid law. The Commission has thus created positive integration "from above" and increasingly influences the objectives of national state aid policies.
doi:10.2139/ssrn.1660981 fatcat:wa6g2tynb5b7li3dzcpbldwyee