State Aid

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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01.10.2018 EU law
Court of Justice refers case against Infineon in relation to smart card chips cartel back to the General Court

Short Reads - On 26 September 2018, the European Court of Justice partially set aside the judgment of the General Court in the smart card chips cartel case. Infineon had argued that the General Court wrongfully assessed only five out of eleven allegedly unlawful contacts. The Court agreed with Infineon insofar as its argument related to the amount of the fine imposed. Philips had also appealed the General Court judgment but that appeal was dismissed in its entirety meaning that the Court of Justice upheld the European Commission's decision and fine.

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01.10.2018 EU law
Dutch Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal annuls mail market analysis decision

Short Reads - On 3 September 2018, the Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal (CBb) annulled the market analysis decision regarding 24-hour business mail issued by the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) on 27 July 2017. In appeal proceedings filed by PostNL, the CBb ruled that the ACM had failed to demonstrate that digital mail was not part of the relevant market for 24-hour business mail.

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13.09.2018 NL law
FlixBus-uitspraak over de strijd van nieuwe spelers op de openbaar vervoermarkt tegen het bestaande concessiemodel met exclusieve rechten.

Short Reads - Het verrichten van openbaar vervoer geschiedt op basis van een concessie. Een concessie is het recht om met uitsluiting van anderen openbaar vervoer te verrichten in een bepaald gebied gedurende een bepaald tijdvak, aldus artikel 1 van de Wet personenvervoer 2000 (hierna: de 'Wp 2000'). 

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01.11.2018 NL law
A problem shared is a problem halved: fine reduction and fine liability are correlated

Short Reads - Companies should beware that when held jointly responsible for a cartel infringement, a fine reduction granted to one of them could affect the joint and several liability of fines allocated to the remaining companies. According to the General Court, in applying the principle of equal treatment, the remaining liability for fine payment should be distributed proportionately by the Commission.

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01.11.2018 NL law
European Court of Justice clarifies the application of choice of forum clauses in competition damages claims

Short Reads - On 24 October 2018, the European Court of Justice ruled that a choice of forum clause in a contract between Apple and eBizcuss, a former reseller of Apple products, may apply to abuse of dominance claims, even when the clause does not explicitly refer to disputes relating to liability resulting from a competition law infringement.

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01.10.2018 EU law
UK Court upholds fine against Ping for online sales ban

Short Reads - On 7 September 2018, the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT) upheld the UK Competition and Market Authority's (CMA) decision fining Ping Europe Limited, a manufacturer of golf clubs, for violating EU and UK competition law by prohibiting two UK retailers from selling Ping golf clubs online. While the CAT reduced the fine from £1.45 million to £1.25 million, it confirmed that outright online sales bans in the context of selective distribution agreements are restrictive of competition by object.

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01.08.2018 BE law
Belgian Court of Cassation annuls decision prohibiting pharmacists from using Google Adwords

Short Reads - On 7 June 2018, the Belgian Court of Cassation, ruled that a decision of the Pharmacists Association Appeals Council (Appeals Council) prohibiting pharmacists from using Google Adwords to offer over-the-counter (OTC) products violated Belgian competition law because the Appeals Council did not sufficiently justify why such a prohibition was necessary for health reasons. The Appeals Council must now issue a new decision.

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