centralisation of administrative functions envisioned in most EU‐wide responses to the crisis, state aid control
has moved in an opposite direction.
The Commission's State Aid Modernisation (SAM) package has further
decentralised responsibilities connected to state aid control to national administrations.
The Commission's aim
is to focus its own enforcement on cases with the largest impact on the internal market while speeding up
less‐problematic provisions, in line with the “Doing Less More Efficiently”scenario of the White Paper on the
Future of Europe (EU)
–to focus Union's limited resources on delivering more and faster on big issues, while
doing less on small ones.
An inevitable yet less discussed dilemma of this transformed setup is managing the structural problems that could
result. Since an increasing number of administrative activities are being distributed across national authorities, state
aid control risks becoming vulnerable to typical challenges of decentralised implementation of EU law,
asymmetric national implementation capacities, diffuse application of complex rules and difficulty in keeping dis-
persed administrative powers under control. These challenges are particularly urgent if one considers that, being
made of rules of negative integration and impinging upon sovereign prerogative, state aid control may entail high
and the previously centralised system already suffered from the Commission's weak monitoring
and awareness‐raising on domestic compliance.
To tackle these structural problems, the Commission has supplemented the initial model of regulatory inte-
gration and power‐checking
with administrative integration and management strategies.
These range from
administrative rulemaking and networking to assist implementation activities and create consistent rule
application, to strengthened bilateral partnerships and conditionality arrangements to build up Member State
This article reflects on the potential effects of the Commission's SAM design. It does so by addressing the
research question: ‘to what extent are the administrative integration instruments created by SAM capable of
In general, scholarship has identified centralisation of control powers to the EU administration as a clear trend in EU post‐crisis reforms. See M. Scholten,
‘Mind the Trend! Enforcement of EU law has been moving to “Brussels”‘, (2017) 9 Journal of European Public Policy 1348–1366; H. Hofmann, ‘European
administration: Nature and developments of a legal and political space’, in C. Harlow, P.Leino and G. della Cananea (eds), Research Handbook on EU Admin-
istrative Law (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017), 33.
Commission of the European Union, ‘Communication on State Aid Modernisation’, COM (2012) 0209 final. For an analysis, see C. Micheau, ‘Evolution of
State Aid Rules: Conceptions, Challenges, and Outcomes’,in H. Hofmann and C. Micheau (eds) State Aid Law of the European Union (Oxford University Press,
2016); C. Quigley Q.C., ‘The European Commission's Programme for State Aid Modernization’, (2013) 1 Maastricht Journal of European and Comparative Law
Commission of the European Union (2017), ‘White Paper on the Future of Europe: Reflections and Scenarios for the EU27 by 2025’, COM (2017) 2025
final 1–33. For a reflection on it, see B. De Witte, ‘The Future of Variable Geometry in a post‐Brexit European Union’, (2017) 2 Maastricht Journal of Euro-
pean and Comparative Law 153.
E. Chiti, ‘Is EU Administrative Law Failing in some of its Crucial Tasks?’(2017) 5 European Law Journal 578 ff.; E. Versluis, ‘Even Rules, Uneven Practices:
Opening the “Black Box”of EU Law in Action’, (2007) 30 West European Politics 50–67.
M. Blauberger, ‘Compliance with Rules of Negative Integration: European State Aid Control in the New Member States’, (2009) 7 Journal of European Public
See European Court of Auditors, ‘Do the Commission's procedures ensure effective management of state aid control?’(Publications Office of the European
J. Weiler, M. Cappelletti and M. Seccombe, Integration through Law, Europe and the American Federal Experience (De Gruyter, 1985).
Administrative integration and management strategies are used in this study to emphasise the same issue, namely how national and EU administrations
work together to give effect to EU law. Yet, each notion focuses on different aspects of this issue. Administrative integration emphasises especially the
organisations and procedures through which EU and national administrations cooperate to implement EU provisions (on this see, among others, H. Hofmann
and A. Türk, ‘The Development of Integrated Administration in the EU and its Consequences’,(2007) 2 European Law Journal 253; S. Cassese, ‘European
Administrative Proceedings’,(2004) 68 Law and Contemporary Problems 21–36;E. Chiti, ‘The AdministrativeImplementation of European Union law: A Tax-
onomy and its Implications’, in H. Hofmann and A. Türk(eds) Legal Challenges in EU Administrative Law: Towards an Integrated Administration (Edward Elgar
Publishing, 2009), 9–33). Management strategies are analysed in compliance studies to understand how the strategies based on the problem‐solving
approach (as opposed to enforcement) may generate compliance with supranational norms (on this see J. Tallberg, ‘Paths to Compliance: Enforcement, Man-
agement, and the European Union’, (2002) 3 International Organization 609 ff; T. Börzel and E. Heidbreder, ‘Enforcement and Compliance’,in C. Harlow, P.
Leino and G. della Cananea (eds), Research Handbook on EU Administrative Law (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2017), 241).
See the speech of the Commissioner at the High‐Level Forum on State Aid Modernisation 2016, ‘The EU state aid rules: Working together for fair com-
petition’(Brussels, 3 June 2016), available at https://ec.europa.eu/commission/commissioners/2014‐2019/vestager/announcements/eu‐state‐aid‐rules‐