Ryanair loses EU court appeal over file access in aid probes
Ryanair has lost a court appeal where it sought to overturn a decision by the European Union’s regulator not to provide information about probes of state aid to airports.
The European Commission was “entitled in law to conclude that there was no overriding public interest justifying disclosure of the documents,” the Luxembourg-based EU General Court, the region’s second-highest court, ruled today.
The European Commission, which checks whether subsidies distort competition in the 27-nation EU, in 2007 and 2008 opened formal probes into Finnish state subsidies for Tampere Pirkkala Airport and German aid for Frankfurt-Hahn that may have benefitted Ryanair.
The EU court two years ago canceled a 2004 decision by the Brussels-based commission that annulled an agreement between Ryanair and state-owned Charleroi airport in Belgium.
This was the most prominent in a series of disputes between the EU and Ryanair, alongside probes into eight other airports at issue in today’s case.
The other EU state aid probes Ryanair sought documents for related to Aarhus Airport in Denmark, Alghero airport in Italy, Pau airport in France, Bratislava airport in Slovakia and German airports Berlin Schoenefeld and Luebeck.
“We regret that the Court did not share our view” about document access, Ryanair said in an e-mailed statement following the ruling.
“This ruling highlights the urgent need for reform of the EU’s procedures in state aid investigations, where currently companies such as Ryanair are deprived of their right to fair procedure and a fair defense.”