ANNOUNCEMENT 20 Oct 2008In October 2008, the government of Belgium announced a change in private-sector financial support.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
the letter from the EC to Belgium - Brussels, 12.2.2009 C(2009) 990 final. Available from - < http://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=3_NN57_2008 >
the letter from the EC to Belgium - Brussels, 20.5.2010
C(2010) 3249 final. Available from - < http://ec.europa.eu/competition/elojade/isef/case_details.cfm?proc_code=3_N256_2009 >
the letter from the EC to Belgium - Brussels, 23.7.2014 SA.30962 final. Available from -< http://ec.europa.eu/competition/state_aid/cases/236377/236377_1361085_144_1.pdf >
Press release by the EC, 23.10.2015, SA.43306
On 20 October 2008 the Belgian authorities publicly announced measures to recapitalize the Ethias group.
The Ethias group is active in the insurance market and, to a lesser extent, in the market for banking services for private individuals, businesses and public entities. The Ethias group has 1.1 million individual customers and in 2007 accounted for almost 13% of the Belgian insurance market, essentially in the area of life assurance and supplementary pensions, but also in that of third party liability insurance and the coverage of industrial accidents.
The recapitalisation of the Ethias group is to take the form of a EUR 1 500 million capital subscription by the Belgian State, the Flemish Region and the Walloon Region to the tune of EUR500 million each.
The European Commission gave the following statement:
" It notes that the Belgian authorities acknowledge that the notified recapitalization measures contain elements of state aid. It shares that finding. The recapitalization operation fulfils all the criteria of this concept: it is selective in that it concerns only the Ethias group; it is liable to affect trade between Member States, since it strengthens the Ethias group inter alia vis-ŕ-vis foreign enterprises active in Belgium and distorts or threatens to distort competition; and lastly, the measure is being carried out using state resources via the commitment of the Belgian authorities, whether directly or through investment structures controlled by the State." (par. 46 of the letter from the EC to Belgium - Brussels, 12.2.2009 C(2009) 990 final).
The Commission decided that, as an emergency rescue measure, the aid satisfies the conditions laid down previously and that it is compatible with the common market on the basis of Article 87(3)(b) of the EC Treaty.
The modified restructuring plan submitted on 3 May 2010 addresses the substantive issues of viability, burden-sharing and limiting distortion of competition. According to that restructuring plan, Ethias will become a smaller, more focused group, withdrawing from risky activities. Within its business model, Ethias will focus on its traditional public sector client group, corporate clients and in retail non-life insurance segment on private customers. Ethias will also reduce the overall risk profile of its investment portfolio, improve its investment and risk management procedures, increase its technical profitability and cut costs.
According to the EC, The restructuring plan submitted fulfils the criteria of the Restructuring Communication and should therefore be considered compatible with the internal market pursuant to Article 107(3)(b) TFEU.
The restructuring plan(State aid - N256/2009) is estimated to last until 31.12.2013
On 12 June 2014, the Commission allowed for certain amendments to the restructuring plan. Particularly, it agreed for an extension by the three years of the rundown of the company's retail life insurance portfolio and the measures targeted at ensuring the profitability and low risk of its other activities.
On 23 October 2015, the EC approved another amendment to the restructuring plan, which included a further capital increase throught the issuance of additional subordinated debt.
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.