On 7 July 2005, the Commission launched its State Aid Action Plan – less and better targeted state aid: a roadmap for state aid reform 2005-2009. The State Aid Action Plan outlines a reform in order to meet the goals of the Lisbon agenda and the challenges of the enlargement which took place in 2004. Part of the State Aid Action Plan is the revision of the Environmental Guidelines which expired 31 December 2007. This article studies the history and the case-law of the current Environmental Guidelines. Moreover, the public consultation undertaken for the revision of these Guidelines is discussed.
In this regard different recommendations are proposed for the future Environmental Guidelines. First of all the scope of the future Environmental Guidelines should include a definition which will protect the environment as a whole and which do not only prevent the current protections which limits itself to the prevention of “black smoke coming out of an industrial factory”. A broad definition could be limited by a more efficient economic market approach in line with the State Aid Action Plan. The key question should be whether the market is distorted by the concerned aid granted. In order to follow a more economic market approach it suggested elaborating a general scheme, a so called block exemption. With a wider definition and a general block exemption the new Environmental Guidelines may redirect its attention from reducing pollution to actively give incentives for a more effective support to deliver environmental benefits to the market.European Energy and Environmental Law Review