EU State Aid Law

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The range of my services in EU State aid law includes:

  • Advice on the structuring of projects and transactions involving the public sector
  • Assessment of State aid risks in corporate transactions (due diligence)
  • Legal opinions on State aid for financial institutions
  • Establishment of the legal prerequisites for the financing of services of general economic interest (SGEI)
  • Assistance in State aid procedures of the European Commission (notifications and complaints) and subsequent proceedings before the EU Courts
  • Competitor claims against illegal State aid, with a particular emphasis on the exemption requirements of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER)
  • Recovery of unlawful State aid and State aid law objections against the enforcement of contracts involving State aid

EU State aid law has been one of my key areas of expertise since I began to practice 2007. I have assisted companies to obtain clearance for State aid from the European Commission, conducted State aid proceedings before the General Court of the EU, defended competitor complaints, accompanied various transactions involving public authorities (privatisations, public investments, access to public infrastructure) and am currently litigating a private enforcement action against illegal State aid before the administrative courts in Germany. I have enforced and defended State aid objections against the validity of contracts in different settings, and published articles and reviews on State aid law topics in renowned journals.

In EU State aid law, I have assisted manufacturers, financial institutions, local authorities and public utility companies, the latter especially in the public transport sector.

EU State aid law protects competition in the internal market from distortions as a result of public authorities granting an economic advantage to companies from public resources. The public sector's own economic activity invariably raises questions under State aid law, e.g. cross-subsidisation within a public sector company. Any economic transaction between the public sector and companies must meet the so-called market economy operator test, i.e. comply with market conditions. An infringement of EU State aid law may occur, for example, when the public sector sells land, assets or shares below market price, provides capital to companies without sufficient return, provides infrastructure for the benefit of certain companies, offers loans at preferential interest rates, or when it guarantees companies' liabilities without sufficient return. Tax concessions and the deferral of claims can also constitute State aid.