5.2.2018   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 42/30


Action brought on 15 November 2017 — Chambre de commerce et d’industrie métropolitaine Bretagne-ouest (port de Brest) v Commission

(Case T-754/17)

(2018/C 042/44)

Language of the case: French

Parties

Applicant: Chambre de commerce et d’industrie métropolitaine Bretagne-ouest (port de Brest) (Brest, France) (represented by: J. Vanden Eynde and E. Wauters, lawyers)

Defendant: European Commission

Form of order sought

The applicant claims that the Court should:

rule that the application is admissible and therefore annul the Commission decision with the reference C(2017) 5176 final concerning aid scheme No SA.38398 (2016/C, ex 2015/E) implemented by France — Taxation of French ports;

declare the present action admissible and well-founded;

consequently, annul the decision of the European Commission that the fact that the economic activities of the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie métropolitaine Bretagne-ouest are not subject to corporation tax constitutes State aid incompatible with the internal market;

order the defendant to pay the costs.

Pleas in law and main arguments

In support of the action, the applicant relies on three pleas in law.

1.

First plea in law, alleging infringement of the principle of sound administration, in that the action in Case T-39/17, Chambre de commerce et d'industrie métropolitaine Bretagne-ouest (port de Brest) v Commission, brought by the applicant concerning the right to have access to the administrative file is still pending. Thus, since the Commission has allegedly relied on documents that are essential to establish its allegations against the applicant, without, however, disclosing those documents to the applicant, despite numerous requests on the part of the latter, the decision that provides an analysis of such documents must be vitiated by unlawfulness.

2.

Second plea in law, alleging an error of assessment regarding the classification of the activities carried out by the port of Brest. This plea is divided into two parts.

The first part is based on the assertion that the activities of the port of Brest are services in the public interest. The applicant argues that, in that context, the exemption from corporation tax cannot be contested by the defendant unless it can show that the exemption constitutes State aid applied to a competitive activity.

The second part, submitted in the alternative, alleges that if the port activities are not services in the public interest, they are nevertheless services of general economic interest that could, in compliance with EU law, be subsidised, inter alia by fiscal measures. The applicant claims that, in such circumstances, it is not appropriate to apply the competition rules in the present case.

3.

Third plea in law, alleging a lack of justification and a manifest error of assessment regarding the classification by the Commission of the measure at issue as State aid. This plea is divided into two parts:

In the first part, the applicant claims that the exception to the application of Article 106(2) TFEU must be combined with Article 93 TFEU, which provides that aids are compatible with the treaties if they meet the needs of coordination of transport or if they represent reimbursement for the discharge of certain obligations inherent in the concept of a public service.

In the second part, the applicant alleges a manifest error of assessment and lack of sufficient justification as regards the application of Article 107 TFEU. First, the contested decision is lacking in sufficient justification in that it provides no evidence to establish or demonstrate how the aid scheme in question affects, or may affect, trade between Member States with respect to French ports and, in particular, the port of Brest. Second, the decision is vitiated by a manifest error of assessment in that it classifies as State aid a measure benefitting the port of Brest even though the condition that trade be affected is not satisfied.