Squire Patton Boggs Wins Long-Running State Aid Case in the European Court of Justice

Squire Patton Boggs has won another major victory for Frucona Košice in the European Court of Justice (ECJ), the highest court in the European Union. The Court has overturned an appeal brought by the European Commission regarding its decision to block Slovak Republic aid to alcoholic spirits company Frucona Košice.
The EU General Court found in favor of Frucona Košice in March 2016 but the European Commission appealed the decision up to the ECJ. Dating back more than a decade regarding a tax settlement between Frucona Košice and the local tax office in October 2004, the European Commission had previously found a write-off of tax debt to be incompatible with EU state-aid rules. A complaint was lodged with the Commission alleging unlawful state aid. While the Court had previously ruled in Frucona Košice’s favor, it sent the decision back to the General Court for a further assessment. The Commission then adopted a new decision that sought to correct the errors identified by the Court. After a victory for Frucona Košice in the General Court in March 2016, the Commission again appealed to the European Court of Justice. The Commission was previously ordered to cover its own costs, as well as those of Frucona Košice, including any costs incurred in connection with the proceedings for interim measures, which has been upheld along with the appeal’s dismissal.

Tatiana Prokopová, managing partner of the Bratislava office, said: “This has been a long journey to finally put this matter to rest for Frucona Košice. After a decade of work on this case, we are delighted to have been successful in protecting the interests of our client. This complex case, with many of its twists and turns, demonstrates our ability to combine our local legal expertise with that of our colleagues in Brussels to ensure a truly winning formula. We look forward to continuing to represent the interests of our clients in Slovakia and across the EU.” The Squire Patton Boggs legal team on the case was led by partners Brian Hartnett, global co-chair of the Competition – Antitrust Practice, and Oliver Geiss, both in Brussels, supported by Will Sparks and Anthony Bochon. In the firm’s Bratislava office, overseeing the work in the Slovak Republic, the team was led with Tatiana Prokopová, with support from Jakub Kamenicky.  
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