EU State Aid

EU State aid rules can profoundly affect the operation of businesses active in the EU, and Baker Botts Brussels has extensive experience advising beneficiaries, complainants and governments on the impact of these complex rules.

The EU has a unique regime of State aid control to maintain a level playing field within the Single Market. A comprehensive set of State aid rules applies across all industries and markets and the European Commission is ever more assertive in enforcing them. It regularly initiates high profile investigations in the area of energy, financial services and transport, and has increasingly sought to use the State aid rules as an instrument to challenge emerging market distortions, particularly in the area of taxation. The EU's goal of becoming a low carbon economy by 2030 is expected to lead to considerable State aid intervention across a swathe of industries and result in the need for additional State aid oversight.

This is a challenging and complex area of EU law. In 2019, one of the principal judges at the Court of Justice of the EU, Miro Prek is on record as saying that State aid is the most uncertain area of litigation he has seen before the General Court, as the demarcation lines “change often and significantly.”

Our State aid team, represents clients in major State aid proceedings before the European Commission, the General Court and Court of Justice of the EU and the national courts. Our team has represented clients as complainants in major State aid cases before the Commission and UK courts, and have advised on State aid issues such as the IPO of a State-owned energy company. In addition, our lawyers have been instrumental in developing State aid law over the last 20 years and have represented clients in some of the leading State aid cases.

EXPERIENCE

  • Assisting alleged aid beneficiaries involved in State aid proceedings before the European Commission and before the General Court and Court of Justice in the EU as well as in recovery proceedings before the national courts
  • Assisting complainants to challenge the grant of unlawful aid by bringing court proceedings or drafting and lodging complaints with the European Commission
  • Advising to ensure that a proposed transaction is ‘State aid proof,’ including analyzing State aid risk during due diligence and advising on measures to avoid or minimize State aid
  • Longstanding assistance to airlines and the airport sector in high profile State aid proceedings, including numerous appeals before the General Court and Court of Justice of the EU
  • Advising companies and trade associations on the application of the State aid rules in the energy and environmental field, including compensation linked to the operation of the EU emissions trading scheme
  • Advising companies on the application of the State aid rules applicable to the roll-out of next generation telecoms networks
  • Assisting public authorities to put in place appropriate frameworks to meet their commitments under the State aid rules, including advice on implementing ongoing updates of the rules
  • The team is also used to coordinating the work carried out by economic consultancies and public affairs consultants during State aid investigations

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