This case stems from a Commission decision adopted in 2003 authorising a notified scheme under which the Belgian Government was granting aid to farms in the form of subsidised services to cover all the costs of removing, storing, processing and destroying fallen stock. For the decision to be adopted, the Belgian authorities agreed to make certain changes to the scheme. These changes were necessary to comply with the guidelines concerning TSEs (transmissible spongiform encephalopathies)1. The guidelines provided that Member States could grant State aid of up to 100% of the costs of removing fallen stock and up to 75% of the cost of destroying the carcasses. The Belgian scheme, as approved, was not in conformity with this provision as it provided that the aid could cover 100% of the costs of destroying the carcasses. The Belgian authorities had also undertaken to send the Commission evidence that the necessary changes had been made to the aid scheme.
Following a complaint lodged in 2007, the Commission opened a preliminary investigation which showed that the Belgian authorities had not amended the aid scheme and were continuing to grant aid of 100% for the destruction of carcasses.