The European Union’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, has hit Spain with a €30 million fine for failing to recover unlawful aid.
The court in Luxembourg found on Tuesday that Spain had not correctly complied with a 2006 judgement in which it had been ordered to recover illegal state aid given to the Basque Country.
The money had been granted to businesses in the northern region.
Justifying the size of the fine the Luxembourg-based court said that the aid had been “particularly harmful to competition by reason of the size of the amount … and the high number of recipients.”
The EC (European Commission), which is the EU’s executive arm, is demanding the repayment of a lump sum of around €65 million Euros, which it believes is still owing on the recovery of the aid.
Authorities in the three provinces of Alava, Vizcaya and Guipuzcoa granted the aid in the 1990s in the form of tax cuts.
Back in 2001 the Commission found the aid to be incompatible with EU internal market rules and ordered Spain to end the scheme. It also stipulated that Spain recover the money granted.
After the Commission determined that the Basque provinces had not fully repaid the funds it took legal action in the Court of Justice.
In 2006 the court ruled that Spain had failed to fulfil its undertakings with the Commission.