17 nov. 2012
Greek protest culture saves farmers € 425 million (at least temporarily), Greece v Commisssion, T-52/12 R
There was a crops production decrease in 2008 and 2009 in Greece caused by drought, high temperatures and rainfall, and entomological and phytopathological diseases of the crops. The Greek Government paid € 425 million to 800 000 farmers as an insurance against damage due to natural risks (§ 2). The European Commission attacked this insurance as unlawful State aid giving Greeks an advantage in competition with other Europeans, and ordered the farmers to pay the insurance back with interest (§ 3).
The European Commission argued before the President of the EU General Court that the inability of the farmers to repay the aid does not constitute serious and irreparable harm to Greece itself. As a rule, only inhabitants of Athens and some cities protest, and the farmers will not cause any disturbance (§ 41).
Nonetheless, the President of the EU General Court dismissed the position of the Commission, and recognised that the danger of violent protests is serious and real (§§ 48-49). He also admitted that the Greek tax authorities do not have enough staff to treat the massive refusal of the farmers to pay back the money (§ 47). Therefore the Commission’s decision is suspended until the EU General Court will take a final judgment.