Mr Hoefner, Mr Elser, Please Welcome to Poland. Some Comments on the Polish Healthcare System Reform from the Perspective of State Aid Law
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The purpose of this paper is to verify the hypothesis that a debt write-off implemented recently by Polish authorities in favour of public hospitals constitutes State aid within the meaning of Article 107(1) of the Treaty of the Functioning of the European Union. The paper contains a detailed description of the nature of the measure – its historical background, regulatory context, as well as its construction. It presents an in-depth analysis of the fulfilment by the measure of the conditions stipulated in Article 107(1) TFEU. As a preliminary issue, the analysis addresses the problem whether Polish public hospitals can be considered as undertakings within the meaning of EU competition law, particularly, as to their activity financed by the sickness fund organized under the principle of social solidarity. The answer to this question seems to be affirmative and in line with the landmark Hoefner and Elser judgments where the ECJ held that the way in which an entity is financed is irrelevant for its classification as an undertaking. The paper argues in favour of the thesis that the debt write-off must be considered as affecting trade between Member States and competition. Consequently, and contrary to the official position of the Polish government, the measure in question is classified as State aid.
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