Clients may be seeking to get approval for short-term rescue aid, defend structural support programs for their industry sector, benefit from regional investment incentives, or challenge aid granted to competitors that distorts competition within the internal market. Our State Aid practitioners have the broad knowledge and depth of experience, both with the European Commission’s enforcement practice and in often-ensuing follow-on litigation before the European Courts, to be able to assist. We also actively represent clients in State Aid-related litigation at national level, in Germany, Belgium and the UK.
We represent a wide range of clients in complex State Aid proceedings, including aid recipients trying to defend aid received in cooperation with their national governments, competitors challenging unlawful aid to others, and acquirers of privatized and other potentially subsidized companies seeking to exclude a transactional repayment risk. Our team is active at the forefront of some of the most topical issues of State Aid law, including restructuring during the financial crisis, privatization of State monopolies and State Aid in the context of transport infrastructure.
Our integrated European team includes highly regarded State Aid practitioners, including former senior Commission official Claus-Dieter Ehlermann, as well as a group of partners based in Brussels, Berlin, Frankfurt and London. Depending on the needs of the project, we work closely with other expert teams, including WilmerHale’s public policy and legal strategy team and sectoral regulatory experts within the firm. In addition, we regularly work with outside financial experts, for example from investment banks or economic consultancies, in order to provide integrated legal, economic and business support to clients.
In recent case highlights, we:
- Represented a German Bundesland in the context of an inquiry by the European Commission into state support for the restructuring of General Motor's European Opel operations.
- Represented several air rescue service providers before the European Commission in a complaint procedure against the Austrian federal states.
- Provided comprehensive support to a leading German retail group, and to its mail order subsidiary, in regard to restructuring support, including representation before the European Commission and in negotiations with the German government.
- Represented an intervener in proceedings before the European Court of First Instance concerning the European Commission’s decision prohibiting preferential landing charges for Ryanair at Charleroi airport as illegal state aid.
- Represented a major component supplier to the automotive industry in clearance proceedings before the European Commission concerning investment aid for a new production facility. Among others, we helped our clients navigate the complex requirements of the Multisectoral Framework for Large Investment Projects.
- Provided state aid advice to a leading German energy supplier in the context of the proposed acquisition of a major lignite producer and represented the company before the European Court of First Instance in connection with Germany’s emission trading scheme.
- Represented an Italian retail distribution association in a complaint against the preferential tax regime enjoyed by major Italian supermarket cooperatives.
- Provided expert advice to a leading French telecommunications operator during a Commission investigation into the French State’s interventions at the time of the operator's restructuring and provided litigation support before the Court of First Instance.
- Represented a leading German office products supplier before the European Commission with regard to alleged aid received in the context of successful restructuring.
- Represented a German Bundesland in the context of the notification of measures related to financing the expansion of the airport Kassel-Calden.
- Represented a German Bundesland in the context of the notification of restructuring measures for the benefit of Hessische Staatsweingüter, the biggest vineyard in Germany.
- Represented the European subsidiary of Nomura, the leading Japanese financial services group, in a series of (now settled) state aid complaints and litigations before the Court of First Instance against Czech aid granted to the banking sector.
- Represented a leading hardwood supplier in a complaint against State aid granted to a competitor before the European Commission, the European Court of First Instance and a German administrative court.