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 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, Covid-19), 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: in relation to their public support measures for sectors particularly affected by the pandemic (e.g. transport) and companies looking to apply for government support schemes.
  • 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.

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