22 Jun, 2020

Commission adopts White Paper on foreign subsidies

On 17 June, the European Commission adopted a White Paper on foreign subsidies in the Single Market that aims to protect European companies from potential foreign buyouts and unfair competition, as both of these actions could also harm the Single Market. Moreover, the White Paper intends to define the EU’s strategic autonomy when it comes to the current geopolitical context.

During the launch of the paper last week, Executive Vice-President for Europe Fit for the Digital Age, Margrethe Vestager, stressed the complexity of the current geopolitical landscape, saying it is one of the most difficult ones in recent history, as the multilateral order as well as openness to trade and investment are being challenged:

“Europe's economy is open and closely interlinked to the rest of the world. If this is to remain a strength, we must stay vigilant. That is why we need the right tools to ensure that foreign subsidies do not distort our market, just as we do with national subsidies.”

Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton stated: “Everyone is welcome here, to take advantage of the internal market, to do business there, to invest.

We welcome everyone, we compete, but the rules of the game must be the same for everyone,” he highlighted.

The White Paper calls for new tools to address the issue and proposes a series of solutions on:

  • the general market operation of economic operators active in the EU;
  • acquisitions of EU undertakings;
  • public procurement procedures.

Moreover, under the proposed mechanism, the European Commission will intervene as a last resort since the national governments will have to carry out systematic checks to identify potential distortion of competition.  

A public consultation on the issue was opened on the same day until 23 September 2020.

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