EU law prohibits the grant by any State entity in an EU Member State of financial assistance to businesses if that financial assistance favours only certain businesses and could distort competition. The types of financial assistance covered range from simple grants or special tax breaks to more complex schemes such as loans or investments on favourable terms or State backed guarantees. Where financial assistance qualifies as State aid it is unlawful unless it falls within a European Commission exemption regulation or is approved by the Commission following notification by the Member State. Approval can be for a scheme involving multiple grants or for a single specific grant of aid.
At DWF we have in-depth experience of all aspects of State aid, from funding applications and projects, through to public-private collaborations and partnerships, including major regeneration and PFI projects.
We work across the many different strands of the public sector, acting on behalf of both public bodies and the many private partners that work with them.
Our public sector clients include over 100 local authorities, education and healthcare providers, Local Enterprise Partnerships and many central government agencies.
We also act for private businesses seeking public financial assistance and businesses concerned that competitors may have received illegal State aid. We have advised on numerous European Commission State aid investigations and actions in national courts involving State aid.