COBALT represented the European Commission in three cases – AS Metaprint vs EAS, Eesti Pagar AS vs EAS and PharmaEstica Manufacturing OÜ vs Enterprise Estonia. The Commission participated in the administrative disputes arising from claims for the recovery of state aid as an amicus curiae, providing the court with its position regarding the interpretation of the EU law. In the case of Eesti Pagar, the Court also requested a preliminary reference from the Court of Justice of the European Union, which issued its judgement on the 5th March, 2019 (judgment no. C‑349/17). At the Court of Justice of the European Union, the European Commission was counselled by Liina Naaber-Kivisoo who was then a senior associate of COBALT, now a judge of the Viru County Court.
The dispute focused mainly on the competence of administrative authorities to asses incentive effect. In these cases, both the Court of Justice as well as the Supreme Court confirmed, among other things, that administrative authorities had no competence to carry out in-depth analysis regarding the fulfilment of the criteria for incentive effect. Such competence falls with the European Commission. This means that no legitimate expectation that the state aid is legitimate is created as a result of illegal state aid paid out by an administrative authority. It is primarily the state aid recipient who is responsible for ensuring compliance with the terms and conditions of state aid.
In the case of AS Metaprint vs Enterprise Estonia, the Administrative Law Chamber of the Supreme Court made a judgment on the merits of the case, and the details comments of Mart Blöndal on the case are available for reading in the Äripäev (in Estonian): https://www.aripaev.ee/arvamused/2020/01/29/mart-blondal-riigikohus-tegi-riigiabi-kohta-olulise-otsuse.