Estonian agricultural producer defeats European Commission in EU court

European Court of Justice session.
European Court of Justice session. Source: ECJ

AS Tartu Agro has won a case against the European Commission in the European Court of Justice after the Commission claimed the company received illegal state aid from a state rental contract from 2000.

The company's legal counsel Triinu Järviste from TGS Baltics said that the court found that the Commission had oversimplified the situation in its judgment and boiled the matter down to inaccurate calculations.

"We are left to conclude that the Commission has failed to observe its due diligence, and its analysis concerning the rental sum's accordance with market conditions and the analysis of how additional contractual obligations were reflected in the price included obvious mistakes that influenced the judgment in terms of the extent of the advantage," the general court's decision reads.

Pursuant to this, the court decided to overturn the European Commission's January 24, 2020, decision regarding allegedly illegal state aid for AS Tartu Agro.

The Commission found in January of 2020 that Tartu Agro will need to return €1.2 million to the Estonian state.

Following a 2017 complaint from a competitor, the Commission launched an investigation into AS Tartu Agro, which produces dairy, meat and cereals, to establish whether a land lease agreement signed between it and the rural affairs ministry in 2000 was in line with EU state aid rules.

The Commission said the land lease constituted state aid, since AS Tartu Agro was leasing the land at below the market rate, which the Commission says gave it an unfair advantage over competitors.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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