State aid has become an increasingly important part of EU competition law. State aid seeks to provide an equal level playing field for all companies in the internal European market.
Governments may support economic sectors, partnerships of cooperation and individual companies in various ways, such as granting them subsidies or loans.
Not all forms of state aid are permitted. Numerous rules apply when assessing whether a particular form of aid is permissible or not. In addition to European state aid rules, governments are also bound by the Market and Government Act. Under European Union (EU) rules, it is unlawful for EU Member States to provide financial or other assistance to selected companies, without the specific approval of the European Commission (EC). Reporting is not necessary if a so-called block exemption can be invoked. The European Commission has set out the conditions under which these exemptions are permissible for certain groups of measures.
Acting in violation of the prohibition of state aid can have major (financial) consequences for both the provider and the recipient. It is therefore important that the rules are carefully considered when granting or receiving state aid.
Our role in this field is wide-ranging and includes:
- Assessing whether certain measures are compatible with the applicable state aid rules and regulations;
- Advising on and making notifications of (group) exemptions;
- Drawing up contracts and other agreements for both governments and potential beneficiaries that are compatible with the applicable rules and regulations;
- Assist and provide guidance in the decision-making process and financing of services of general economic interest in the field of state aid and the Market and Government Act;
- Litigation, including challenging the provision of state aid, and infringement procedures;
My profession makes it possible for me to get acquainted with many companies and branches. I believe that many issues, although they may seem completely different, still have a lot in common. My tax and corporate law background makes it easy to understand the business-economic consequences and find a legal solution. As a professional group, we are always looking for issues that are not obvious. Many difficulties can be avoided by thinking ahead and planning strategically.
Paul Kostwinder - lawyer since 2005 - studied law in Groningen and Kingston, Canada. In 1999, he started his professional career as a tax specialist at one of the big four accounting firms. In 2010, Paul completed the insolvency law course at the University of Groningen. His practice focuses particularly on tax and corporate law procedures and advice, such as acquisitions, mergers, and relaunches. He also assists companies that are in dire straits. Paul is a partner at Yspeert.