State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into €400 million Italian government loan to Alitalia
The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether Italy’s € 400 million loan granted to Alitalia constitutes State aid and whether it complies with the rules on State aid to companies in difficulty. The opening of an in-depth investigation is a standard step, which provides Italy and other interested parties with an opportunity to provide their views. It does not prejudge in any way the outcome of the investigation. The Commission is working closely with the Italian authorities on the matter. In late 2019, the Italian authorities announced that they would grant a new loan of €400 million to Alitalia to facilitate the streamlining of the company in order to attempt to sell its assets. The Italian decree-law authorising the loan was approved by the Italian government in December 2019. In January 2020, the decree-law was converted into law by the Italian Parliament. The decree also provides that the procedure enabling the disposal of Alitalia’s assets must be carried out by 31 May 2020. A new sales process, carried out by the extraordinary commissioner, is expected to be launched shortly. In this context, the Commission’s in-depth investigation will provide clarity to Italy and the company as well as interested buyer(s), if the €400 million loan constitutes State aid and if it complies with EU State aid rules. The Commission’s role under the EU Treaty is to help ensure a level playing field in the EU’s Single Market to the benefit of European consumers and businesses. Interested parties may trigger State aid investigations by lodging complaints with the Commission. In this case, the Commission has received a number of complaints, alleging that the loan constitutes State aid that is not compatible with the applicable EU rules. The full press release is available online.