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State aid

We have market-leading experience in handling complex State aid cases, making us a “safe pair of hands”

State aid

We are witnessing an increased focus on State aid law in recent years. Many public policy objectives require some form of State support in order to be delivered successfully. The unprecedented effects of the Covid-19 crisis as well as the high energy prices have resulted in a growing number of companies having to navigate the State aid rules. At the same time, companies with no previous exposure to State aid issues find themselves on the radar for State aid probes into tax measures. And the investments needed to achieve the EU’s bold ambitions in the Green Deal, which will be a transformative business driver, may only be achieved with significant amounts of State support.

In this evolving legal environment, it is imperative for companies and governments to get strategic advice which is aligned with the requirements of both the relevant business sector and political realities. At Linklaters, we provide that expertise. Our State aid practice is among the most experienced in Europe, advising both governments and beneficiaries in a wide range of sectors.

We offer a first-class service, covering a broad range of services. This includes advisory work on the State aid aspects of new projects, advice to secure aid approvals quickly in crisis situations (including, most recently, to mitigate the impact of high energy prices), as well as assistance in State aid investigations before the European Commission and related litigation before the EU and national courts, including national recovery proceedings.

State aid at Linklaters: How can we help?

  • Provide insightful advice on law and strategy, taking into account both legal and political realities, based on our collective experience
  • Offer a full-service State aid team, with experts in our other practices, such as tax and energy and infrastructure, being fully familiar with State aid issues
  • Handle dealings with the European Commission and with governments granting State aid, both on behalf of complainants and beneficiaries of such aid

  • Advise clients in relation to the repayment of unlawful State aid and managing recovery proceedings
  • Support complainants and beneficiaries in complex court cases against European Commission recovery and approval decisions
  • Advise clients on State aid issues ensuing from privatisations and sale of State-owned assets

Our State aid experience

Our recent State aid experience includes advising on:

Aid in response to the Covid-19 pandemic

  • A number of European governments and companies: advising on a number of State aid notifications and process in relation to public support measures for sectors particularly affected by the pandemic (e.g. transport).
  • The Polish Development Fund: advising on the State aid aspects of establishing and administering support schemes aimed at helping companies to deal with the adverse effects of Covid-19.

Challenges to European Commission decisions

  • Real Madrid FC: advising on State aid investigations before the European Commission, concerning a real estate transaction with Madrid City Council and the tax regime applied to football clubs, and in relation to the appeal of the European Commission’s decision before the General Court.
  • BAE Systems Plc: advising on its application to the General Court for annulment of the European Commission’s decision concluding that the group financing exemption provided under the UK’s controlled foreign company rules partly contravened State aid rules.
  • Six corporate clients: advising in the framework of the State aid proceedings regarding the Belgian excess profit ruling system

Both sides of the coin: beneficiaries and governments

  • Various clients: on the risk that certain tax rulings they have obtained or intend to request or tax law provisions they intend to invoke result in a grant of State aid.
  • A number of energy companies: in relation to capacity mechanisms and their compliance with State aid rules, as well as advising on the impact of the annulment of the European Commission decision following the successful Tempus Energy appeal regarding the UK capacity mechanism.
  • A number of European governments: in relation to proposed State aid for the building of nuclear power plants and related investigations by the European Commission.
  • A number of EU financial institutions during the financial crisis: including regarding restructuring plans approved by the European Commission as well as the application of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive and amendments to those plans and subsequent rounds of aid.

Rescue and restructuring aid

  • Hypo Real Estate Group: advising on the provision of €50bn of emergency liquidity financing and related rescue and restructuring State aid. This is one of the largest and most complex State aid proceedings ever before the European Commission.
  • NORD/LB (Norddeutsche Landesbank): advising on strategic, State aid, and public law aspects of the approx. €3.6bn capital increase and certain state guarantees, as well as in relation to the State aid procedure in consultation with the relevant German ministries.
  • Jingye Group: advising leading Chinese steelmaker, Jingye Group, on State aid in the context of its agreement to acquire the business and certain assets of British Steel.

What we do

Foreign Investment & Merger Control

At Linklaters, we have world-leading experience thanks to our dedicated and truly integrated global network. We are continually monitoring developments in this rapidly evolving area in order to remain ahead of the curve. We offer clients a one stop shop for handling merger control and foreign investment review filings: a single, central point of contact, as well as a consistently high level of quality.


Merger control is critical to the success of any M&A transaction. Linklaters’ truly global team works with clients to devise their global merger control strategy. We combine commercial, legal, economic and often political considerations to maximise the chance of a successful outcome. We offer clients a one stop shop for handling merger control and foreign investment review filings: a single, central point of contact, as well as a consistently high level of quality.


Antitrust Investigations and Litigation

With our global footprint and on-the-ground experience in multiple jurisdictions our Antitrust & Foreign Investment team support clients through the broad spectrum of challenges that arise before, during and after an investigation into behavioural conduct issues.


Public procurement

Linklaters has extensive experience of advising on the application of the EU procurement Directives and the implementing regulations adopted in various Member States. We have been involved in many important projects for both private and public sector clients (including national governments), which have required a combination of detailed technical legal expertise, innovative thinking and commercial focus.


State Aid & Foreign Subsidies Regulation

In this evolving legal environment, companies with no previous (and often no foreseen) exposure to State aid issues are increasingly affected by the rules. Companies increasingly view State aid law as a powerful tool to challenge the legality of fiscal regimes and other State measures which favour their competitors. Our clients gain a competitive advantage from our wealth of experience in handling complex State aid cases.


The FSR builds on elements of State aid, merger control, foreign investment, public procurement, and trade defence. Our global team is one of the world’s leading practices across the spectrum of these matters and we have the skills, experience and bandwidth required to prepare your business. We advise on the most complex and strategic matters and have an award-winning reputation for innovation and excellence.


Economic & Utility Regulation

The team has advised on price controls, market access and liberalisation for utilities companies, as well as on the regulatory issues arising in the context of mergers and acquisitions and financing/restructuring transactions.


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