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Wasteful spending of public funds, leading to the creation of “ghost airports”, is often described as a regulatory failure and a major deficiency in European State aid control. It is pointed out that decisions to build or upgrade an airport are often ill-conceived, poorly implemented, and without economic justification. This raises the question whether European law, namely its State aid control system, contains inherent flaws or whether the European Commission’s decision-making process can be improved by increasing reliance on objective economic reasoning under the existing legal framework. This article provides an analysis of the decision-making problems leading to failed aid efforts; of the role of the economic approach in State aids; and of the standard of economic assessment required in State aid cases. The article concludes with de lege ferenda postulates.
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