Government subsidies to industry – whether in cash or in kind – are controlled by EU rules. They are designed to ensure a ‘level playing field’ for competition across the EU so that, except for the smallest subsidies, government money has to be awarded in a way which satisfies EU regulations on State aids. Otherwise an individual approval decision
from the European Commission will be needed. If you believe your competitors have been unfairly and unlawfully subsidised, you may be able to require repayment to the government: if you receive aid from public sources, you will need to ensure that the grant complies with the law.
We can advise on compliance with the State aids regime and approach national awarding authorities or the European Commission on your behalf if needed.
In April 2011 the UK exemption in relation to land agreements was repealed leaving many restrictions over land subject to competition law for the first time. Restrictive covenants, such as those contained routinely in commercial developments for shopping malls and in outdoor advertising agreements are all likely to be affected. The review of land agreements to determine the enforceability of such restrictions (and their ability to attract fines) will be important exercise in understanding any risks posed by them for many businesses.