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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05.09.2019 NL law
ECJ answers preliminary questions on jurisdiction in cartel damage case 

Short Reads - On 29 July 2019, the ECJ handed down a preliminary ruling concerning jurisdiction in follow-on damages proceedings in what is termed the trucks cartel. The court clarified that Article 7(2) Brussels I Regulation should be interpreted in such a way as to allow an indirect purchaser to sue an alleged infringer of Article 101 TFEU before the courts of the place where the market prices were distorted and where the indirect purchaser claims to have suffered damage. In practice, this often means that indirect purchasers will be able to sue for damages in their home jurisdictions.

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01.08.2019 NL law
Call of duty: Commission must state reasons when straying from its guidelines

Short Reads - The European Commission has lost a second battle concerning its EUR 15 million fine imposed upon interdealer broker ICAP, this time before the European Court of Justice. The Court upheld the previous judgment of the General Court on the basis of the Commission's failure to state reasons concerning its fining methodology of cartel facilitator ICAP. This may lead to more reasoned Commission decisions in the future - deterrence of cartel behaviour does not justify keeping the methodology for setting the fines as a 'black box'.

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04.07.2019 BE law
Higher fines ahead under Belgium's new competition act

Short Reads - Companies beware: on 3 June 2019, a new competition act entered into force in Belgium. The new act introduces a number of modifications to procedure and sanctions, aimed at improving enforcement of competition laws as well as the functioning of competition authorities.

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05.09.2019 NL law
Wanted: fast solutions for fast-growing platforms

Short Reads - Dominant digital companies be warned: calls for additional tools to deal with powerful platforms in online markets are increasing. Even though the need for speed is a given in these fast-moving markets, the question of which tool is best-suited for the job remains. Different countries are focusing on different areas; the Dutch ACM wants to pre-emptively strike down potential anti-competitive conduct with ex ante measures, while the UK CMA aims for greater regulation of digital markets and a quick fix through interim orders.

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01.08.2019 NL law
General court dismisses all five appeals in the optical disk drives cartel

Short Reads - The General Court recently upheld a Commission decision finding that suppliers of optical disk drives colluded in bids for sales to Dell and HP by engaging in a network of parallel bilateral contacts over a multi-year period. The General Court rejected applicants' arguments regarding the Commission's fining methodology, including that the Commission ought to have provided reasons for not departing from the general methodology set out in its 2006 Guidelines.

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05.09.2019 NL law
No fine means no reason to appeal? Think again!

Short Reads - Whistleblowers who have had their fine reduced to zero may still have an interest in challenging an antitrust decision. The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) held two de facto managers personally liable for a cartel infringement but, instead of imposing a EUR 170,000 fine, granted one of them immunity from fines in return for blowing the whistle. The Trade and Industry Appeals Tribunal found that, despite this fortuitous outcome, the whistleblower still had an interest in appealing the ACM's decision.

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01.08.2019 NL law
Brand owners beware: Commission tough on cross-border sales restrictions

Short Reads - The European Commission recently imposed a EUR 6.2 million fine on Hello Kitty owner Sanrio for preventing its licensees from selling licensed merchandising products across the entire EEA. Sanrio is the second licensor (after Nike) to be fined for imposing territorial sales restrictions on its non-exclusive licensees for licensed merchandise. A third investigation into allegedly similar practices by Universal Studios is ongoing. The case confirms the Commission's determination to tackle these practices, regardless of type or form.

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21.06.2019 NL law
Staatssteun: Real Madrid scoort tegen de Europese Commissie

Short Reads - Op 22 mei 2019 heeft het Gerecht van de Europese Unie ("GvEU" of "Gerecht") een besluit van de Europese Commissie over vermeende staatssteun van circa € 18,4 miljoen aan voetbalclub Real Madrid vernietigd. De staatssteun zou volgens de Europese Commissie zijn verleend in de context van een grondtransactie tussen Real Madrid en de gemeente Madrid.

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