Every world chess champion possessed his own unique playing style. Tigran Petrosian was dubbed “Iron Tigran” due to his impregnable defensive style. Anatoly Carpov’s positional style earned him the nickname “boa constrictor”. Jose Raul Capablana was known as the “human chess machine” because of the relentlessly accurate manner in which he bested his opponents.
Were Commissioner Vestager to play high-level chess, she would probably play like Mikhail Tal. The so-called “Magician from Riga” was a formidable world chess champion. Known for his creative attacking style, Tal was daring and unpredictable on the chess board. His dramatic combinational play allowed him to confuse and rattle his opponents, who would usually proceed to make errors and concede defeat.
The way the board is set these days, few areas of EU competition law are as topical as fiscal state aid. The household names involved in the tax ruling cases (e.g. Apple, Amazon, Starbucks), coupled with the transatlantic tensions to which they have occasionally given rise, have brought state aid policy to the forefront of Commissioner Vestager’s work.
Building on some noteworthy quotes by Mikhail Tal, this post will endeavour to make sense of the different moving pieces on the state aid chessboard, describe the current state of play and evaluate the Commissioner’s “checkmating” odds. Continue reading