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Following an 11-month investigation into UK support for the Hinkley Point C nuclear project, the Commission approved a modified UK support package on 8 October 2014.
Austria announced yesterday that it will launch its appeal on Monday 29 June challenging the Commission’s clearance decision before the General Court of the European Union. Luxembourg has stated that it will join Austria’s appeal. Germany has announced that, following a thorough analysis of the Commission’s State aid decision, it will not join the appeal.
State aid appeals can last six years or more. During this period the Commission’s decision would be presumed to be lawful. At this stage the appeal appears unlikely to succeed. Even if the appeal is successful, the Commission could conduct another investigation (lasting at least six months) and reach a substantively identical decision. In the unlikely event that the Commission, after an appeal and second investigation, concludes that the aid is illegal, the relevant aid would need to be returned to the UK Government with significant ramifications for investors and financiers of Hinkley Point C.