The market as norm

The governmentality of state aid regulation

Authored by: Linda Nyberg

The Routledge Handbook of Critical European Studies

Print publication date:  December  2020
Online publication date:  December  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138589919
eBook ISBN: 9780429491306
Adobe ISBN:


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The EU rules on state aid prevent member state governments from distorting competition in the market by granting economic support to individual market actors. The legal definition of state aid includes both direct and indirect forms of aid, thus encompassing both direct transfers of money, such as state subsidies and grants, as well as measures that reduce the economic burdens of companies, such as tax exemptions or loans and guarantees on preferential terms, offered only to certain competitors. Furthermore, the prohibition of state aid covers not only aid given to private businesses. Aid given to publicly owned or non-profit organisations can also be defined as state aid, if the recipient is found to be acting in competition in a market. As a result, EU state aid regulation impacts on a wide range of policy areas – not only industrial policy, but also regional, environmental and social policies where states might want to support certain actors or activities in order to steer economic and societal developments in certain directions. National governments, at regional and local levels as well, must take state aid regulation into consideration when deciding what policy options to pursue.

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