What is most damaging is the reluctance to take into account the European market as a whole and its confrontations with global competitors (in almost 40% of cases, the Commission limits itself to assessing one or more national markets). Not to mention the absence of a real prospective analysis, not limited to the two or three next years, but well beyond, by trying to assess the respective strengths of the actors in the medium term.
The prohibition of state subsidies to companies is a genuine European specificity, without equivalent among its major global competitors. In other words, Europe has decided, on its own, to create a starting handicap by prohibiting any public intervention supporting companies when it is likely to create a distortion in intra-European trade. Such a restriction was perfectly justified when the common market was created: allowing national authorities, through their interventions, to give an advantage to their own companies would have resulted in the re-segmentation of markets. Today, while the single market is no longer contested, and the European economy is suffering from sluggishness, which particularly harms our industry in the face of global competition, one can really wonder if it is not time to review the application of these rules from top to bottom.
The first priority would be to strictly limit the European Commission's intervention to situations where trade between Member States is significantly affected. The Commission must cease to control aid granted to hollow oyster producers, professional freshwater eel fishermen, or the provision of land or buildings to SMEs. Instead of acting as a magistrate for the allocation of public funds, the Commission should conform to its role, limited to cases where the unity of the European market is in real danger of being put at risk, namely where aid mechanisms can effectively influence the location of important companies. The determining criterion must not be "is there distortion?" (there will always be a competitor to complain about it), but "is the single market really in danger?". Even in situations where the European market is likely to be significantly affected, an objective balancing of interests should be carried out: giving a temporary advantage to a company in difficulty may be preferable to its disappearance, if its prospects of recovery are serious; providing support to a sector facing global competition may be in the common European interest, as may supporting innovation and technological development efforts even if not all our States are willing to devote the same resources to it. It is time to reintroduce a little economic policy into the system.