The Netherlands: Restructuring aid to ABN AMRO Group NV
Between October 2008 and July 2010, the Netherlands notified a certain number of aid measures in favor of the ABN AMRO Group, which is the result of the merger between Fortis Bank Nederland (FBN) and ABN AMRO N on 1 July 2010.
The State aid included the following measures:
- recapitalisation aid worth between EUR 4.2 billion and EUR 5.45 billion respectively in favour of FBN and ABN AMRO N,
- EUR 71.7 billion of liquidity aid.
(More details can be found par. 33-157 of the letter from the EC to the Netherlands - Brussels, 05.04.2011 C(2011)2114 final.)
The EC gave the following assessment:
“Article 107(1) of the Treaty provides that any aid granted by a Member State or through State resources in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods shall, insofar as it affects trade between Member States, be incompatible with the internal market. It follows that a State measure qualifies as State aid if it meets the following four (cumulative) criteria:
- State resources;
- selective advantage;
- distortive impact on competition; and
- impact on trade between Member States.
The first criterion is met for Measures (Y1) to (E) in Table 4 in recital (128) as all those Measures are directly financed from the Dutch State's resources.
Whether a measure constitutes a selective advantage to FBN, ABN AMRO N or ABN AMRO Group post-merger (the second criterion) is analysed in the recitals (220) to (278), examining each measure separately.
If a selective advantage exists in this case, the third and fourth criteria would also be fulfilled. All the measures distort or threaten to distort competition as they place FBN, ABN AMRO N or ABN AMRO Group after the merger in a beneficial position vis-à-vis other competing banks (third criterion). Moreover, the measures also have an impact on trade between Member States. FBN, ABN AMRO N and ABN AMRO Group post-merger are internationally-oriented banks with activities outside the Netherlands while also competing in their home market with subsidiaries of foreign banks (fourth criterion).” (par. 216-219 of the letter)
The EC, however, concluded that the State aid provided by the Netherlands to ABN AMRO Group is compatible with the internal market, subject to the conditions set out in Articles 3 to 9. (par. 331 of the letter)
A state measure in the GTA database is assessed solely in terms of the extent to which its implementation affects the extent of discrimination against foreign commercial interests. On this metric, the state aid proposed here is discriminatory.
Any Evidence-Based Deliberation:
|Is there anything in the public record to suggest that evidence of the effectiveness of the proposed measure was considered during official deliberations?|
|Is there any evidence that alternatives to the proposed measure were considered?|
|Is there anything in the public record that suggests that empirical evidence informed the comparison across the alternatives available to government?|
|Was such evidence identified?|
|Is such evidence publicly available?|
|Did the official decision-maker in question provide an explanation as to why a chosen measure was favoured over alternatives?|
|Is there any evidence to suggest that potentially affected trading partners were consulted before the measures were taken?|
|Is there any evidence that safeguards have been put in place to ensure that implementation of the initiative is transparent and non-discriminatory?|
|Did the government state its intention to review the measure within one year of implementation?|
Date of inception: 5 Apr 2011
GTA Evaluation: Red
the letter from the EC to the Netherlands - Brussels, 05.04.2011 C(2011)2114 final. Available from : < http://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=... >