Official Journal of the European Union

C 72/28

Appeal brought on 8 December 2017 by Alex SCI against the order of the General Court (First Chamber) delivered on 10 October 2017 in Case T-841/16, Alex v Commission

(Case C-696/17 P)

(2018/C 072/37)

Language of the case: French


Appellant: Alex SCI (represented by: J. Fouchet, avocat)

Other party to the proceedings: European Commission

Form of order sought

The appellant claims that the Court should:

set aside the order delivered by the General Court of the European Union on 10 October 2017 in full, except insofar as it recognises that the Commission’s decision of 21 September 2016 is challengeable

ruling afresh on the case:

annul the decision of the European Commission of 21 September 2016;

declare the aid granted to CABAB by FEDER, the French State, the Regional Council of Aquitaine and the General Council of Pyrénées-Atlantiques unlawful and incompatible with the common market;

order the European Commission to pay all the costs incurred in the proceedings, including lawyers’ fees in the amount of EUR 5 000.

Grounds of appeal and main arguments

A.   Admissibility

The appellant requests that the General Court’s ruling on the decision’s openness to challenge be upheld. The letter of 21 September 2016 constitutes a challengeable act for the purposes of the provisions of the first paragraph of Article 263 TFEU.

As regards Alex SCI’s standing and interest in bringing the proceedings, the appellant requests that the order of the General Court be altered. Its trading position is affected for the purposes of the fourth paragraph of Article 263 TFEU.

B.   Substance

The first ground of appeal alleges formal illegality on the grounds of failure to provide adequate reasons. No legal, textual or jurisprudential basis is given in the decision of 21 September 2016, with the result that, merely from reading it, Alex SCI, represented by its managing director, does not understand that decision. To a high degree lacking adequate legal and factual reasoning, the decision is vitiated by formal illegality.

The second ground of appeal alleges substantive illegality (existence of State aid and lack of notification). The Communauté d’Agglomération Côte-basque — Adour (‘CABAB’) sought, as part of its economic strategy, to develop the ‘Technocité’ site in Bayonne in order to establish a specialised platform in the field of aviation. For that purpose, it requested financing from FEDER, the French State, the Regional Council of Aquitaine and the General Council of Pyrénées-Atlantiques in order for them to co-finance its project through the payment, from each of them, of the sum of EUR 1 000 000.

On the one hand, all the constituent elements of State aid being present, those payments constitute non-notified State aid, contrary to Article 108 TFEU.

On the other hand, those payments are incompatible with the common market. The Technocité project is in fact an industrial and tertiary platform specialised in the development of the most advanced technologies in the fields of aviation, space and embedded systems. That sector is eminently open to competition. The aid is therefore contrary to Article 107 TFEU.

Last, as regards the failure to perform the aid payment agreements, it must be noted that the purpose of those agreements is to finance a project of a ‘Technocité aviation hub’, for developing the site and making it ‘a platform specialised in the research and development of the most advanced technologies in the fields of aviation, space and embedded systems’. The Technocité zone covers all types of activities, which are carried out by unrelated companies such as Fidal, Avantis, Decra, Sepa, Trescal, KPMG, Capgemini…., that is to say, companies involved in fields that do not fall within the sphere of aviation.

In short, the State aid must be annulled and the sums repaid (see, inter alia, Regulations No 734/2013 (1) and No 2988/95, (2) Article 4(1) and (4); French Council of State (CE), 2 June 1992, Rec. p. 165; CE, 6 November 1998, Rec. p. 397; Court of Justice, 11 July 1996, SFEI, Case C-39/94).

(1)  Council Regulation (EU) No 734/2013 of 22 July 2013 amending Regulation (EC) No 659/1999 laying down detailed rules for the application of Article 93 of the Treaty (OJ 2013 L 204, p. 15).

(2)  Council Regulation (EC, Euratom) No 2988/95 of 18 December 1995 on the protection of the European Communities’ financial interests (OJ 1995 L 312, p. 1).