We are Stibbe State Aid specialists

We assist clients with analysis, adaptation, notification and litigation on State aid issues such as government subsidies, local authority support and exemption or reduction from taxes.

State Aid

As an increasingly important part of EU competition law, we assist companies and governments on a daily basis with practical State aid advice, notifications to the European Commission and complex litigation matters both at national and EU level.

Our team has a deep understanding of the principles and processes needed to ensure that the entire subsidy application and granting process is lawful under national rules and in particular with EU State aid rules.

Our intervention covers both the structuring of projects from a State aid perspective, preparing and defending notifications, recovery of illegal State aid, drafting of legislation and infringement procedures.

Matters include environmental subsidies for companies and power plants, national or local State support for small and large infrastructure projects, tax exemptions, and public transport subsidies. In these areas we handle litigation, transactional advice and hold informal contacts with the EU Commission.

Of particular note is our involvement with many landmark and high-profile State aid litigation cases before the European Commission, EU courts and various national courts. 

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02.01.2018 EU law
Court of Justice: Suppliers of luxury goods may prohibit their authorised distributors from selling on third party internet platforms

Short Reads - On 6 December 2017, the Court of Justice rendered its much anticipated judgment in a dispute between a supplier of luxury cosmetics (Coty) and one of its authorised resellers. The central question was whether Coty is allowed under the competition rules to forbid its resellers to sell Coty products over third party internet platforms with visible logos (like eBay or Amazon).

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01.12.2017 EU law
National courts may declare that a practice infringes competition law after it was the subject of a commitment decision

Short Reads - On 23 November 2017, the European Court of Justice delivered its judgment on a request for a preliminary ruling by the Spanish Supreme Court regarding the legal consequences of an European Commission commitment decision. The Spanish court sought guidance as to whether an EU commitment decision concerning long-term exclusive supply agreements between Spain's leading oil and gas company Repsol and its service station tenants, prevented the Spanish court from declaring that the agreements infringed competition law. 

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01.11.2017 EU law
Nike can restrict sales via online platforms within its selective distribution system

Short Reads - On 4 October 2017, the District Court of Amsterdam ruled* in favour of sports goods manufacturer Nike in an action against a distributor, Action Sport, which had not complied with Nike's selective distribution policy. The District Court found that Nike's selective distribution system, which included a ban on sales via non-authorised online platforms, was compatible with competition law as it sought to preserve the luxury image of Nike's products.

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02.01.2018 EU law
Court of Justice dismisses appeal by Telefónica on non-compete clause in telecoms transaction

Short Reads - On 13 December 2017, the Court of Justice dismissed the appeal brought by Telefónica against a judgment of the General Court (GC) regarding a non-compete agreement [see our July 2016 Newsletter]. The judgment confirms the finding of the GC that the non-compete clause agreed upon between Telefónica and Portugal Telecom (PT) amounted to a market sharing agreement with the object of restricting competition.

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06.12.2017 EU law
EU Court of Justice: Suppliers of luxury goods may prohibit their authorised distributors from selling on third party internet platforms

Short Reads - Today the ECJ rendered its much anticipated judgment in a dispute between a supplier of luxury cosmetics (Coty) and one of its authorised resellers. The central question was whether Coty is allowed under the competition rules to forbid its resellers to sell Coty products over third party internet platforms with visible logos (like eBay or Amazon).

Read more

01.12.2017 EU law
Court of Justice dismisses appeal of British Airways in Air Cargo case

Short Reads - On 14 November 2017, the Court of Justice dismissed the appeal by British Airways (BA) and upheld the fine for its participation in an infringement in the air cargo sector. It ruled that the General Court (GC) had been correct in not granting a full annulment of the infringement decision, as BA had only sought a partial annulment before the GC.

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02.01.2018 EU law
Court of The Hague confirms that the ACM can copy mobile phones during an inspection

Short Reads - On 22 November 2017, the District Court of The Hague dismissed a legal challenge that was brought against the Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in preliminary relief proceedings. In the course of an inspection, the ACM had made a copy of (virtually) all data on the business mobile phones of six employees who worked for the company subject to the inspection. The Court ruled that the ACM was permitted to do so.

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01.12.2017 EU law
General Court partially annuls the European Commission's ICAP decision (in the YIRD case)

Short Reads - On 10 November 2017, the General Court (GC) partially annulled the European Commission's 2015 decision to fine UK-based broker ICAP close to EUR 15 million for "facilitating" various infringements relating to Yen interest rate derivatives (YIRDs). The GC's judgment provides a useful overview of the current state of EU case law on (i) "by object" infringements; (ii) the role of facilitators in cartel cases; (iii) "complex single and continuous infringements"; (iv) the presumption of innocence; and (v) the Commission's duty to state reasons when setting the level of a fine.

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01.12.2017 EU law
Court of Justice rules on the application of competition law to agricultural producer organisations

Short Reads - On 14 November 2017, the European Court of Justice rendered its judgment on a request for a preliminary ruling from the French Supreme Court. The Court clarified the conditions under which competition rules must be applied to agricultural producer organisations (POs). POs are established to pursue the objectives of the common agricultural policy and may – if certain criteria are met – be exempted from the competition rules.

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