Via this page you can lodge a complaint against alleged unlawful State aid. This page is available in 23 languages. Please use the drop-down menu at the top right of the screen to switch to another language.
Why lodge a complaint?
Complaints are an essential source of information for detecting infringements of the Union rules on State aid. In this regard, the Procedural Regulation provides that the Commission shall examine any complaint submitted by an interested party.
What is the legal basis?
The"Procedural Regulation": Council Regulation (EU) 2015/1589 of 13 July 2015 laying down detailed rules for the application of Article 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (which replaces Council Regulation No 659/1999), OJ L 248, 24.9.2015, p. 9-29.
The 'Implementing Regulation': Commission Regulation (EC) No 794/2004, as modified inter alia by Commission Regulation (EU) No 372/2014 of 9 April 2014 amending Regulation (EC) No 794/2004 as regards the calculation of certain time limits, the handling of complaints, and the identification and protection of confidential information, OJ L 109, 12.4.2014, p. 14-22.
How can I determine whether a measure constitutes State aid?
Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union states that, unless otherwise provided in the Treaties, any aid granted by a Member State or through state resources in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods shall be incompatible with the internal market, in so far as it affects trade between Member States. Therefore, the following five conditions must be cumulatively met in order to classify a measure as State aid:
- Use of state resources
- Economic advantage
- Selectivity (i.e. the aid favours certain commercial undertakings or the production of certain goods)
- Effect on competition
- Effect on trade between Member States
For further details, you may also consult the Commission Notice on the notion of State aid as referred to in Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.
Who can validly lodge a complaint?
Pursuant to Article 24 of the Procedural Regulation, only interested parties may submit complaints to inform the Commission of any alleged unlawful aid or misuse of aid. To that end, natural and legal persons submitting a complaint pursuant to Articles 12(1) and 24(2) of the Procedural Regulation shall demonstrate that they are interested parties within the meaning of Article 1(h) of that Regulation. (See to that end also Article 11a (1) of the Implementing Regulation ).
Article 1(h) of the Procedural Regulation defines interested parties as "any Member State and any person, undertaking or association of undertakings whose interests might be affected by the granting of aid, in particular the beneficiary of the aid, competing undertakings and trade associations."
Why is it mandatory to use the complaint form?
The use of complaint form is mandatory pursuant to Article 24(2) of the Procedural Regulation. Pursuant to article 11a (2) of the Implementing Regulation, interested parties are required to duly complete the form set out in its Annex IV and provide all the mandatory information requested therein. Its main purpose is to facilitate the handling of complaints by ensuring that the Commission receives all relevant information regarding the alleged unlawful or misused aid.
Complaints shall be submitted in one of the official languages of the Union (Article 11a (3) of the Implementing Regulation).
The Commission will ask complainants that have submitted incomplete information to provide the missing information within a set deadline. In the absence of a timely reply, the complaint will be deemed withdrawn.
Upon a reasoned request by an interested party, the Commission may dispense with the obligation to provide some of the information required by the form (Article 11a (2) of the Implementing Regulation).
Where can I find the complaint form and how can I send my complaint?
You can find the complaint form to download here.
Please make sure that you complete all the compulsory fields marked with a star (*). Once you have completed the form, please send it in either by email or in print by post to:
Directorate General for Competition
State aid Registry
Fax (32-2) 296 12 42
The Commission strongly encourages the use of electronic communication in preference to paper.
NB: Recommendations for complaints sent by e-mail:
- Attachments should not exceed 3 MB.
- If your email exceeds this size we recommend that you send a second email with the same "subject" line and the reference "email 2".
- If you have a large amount of documents, you may also want to send them in a CD ROM by post to the addresses above.
If the complaint contains confidential information, please submit two versions: a confidential version and a non-confidential version without business secrets or other confidential information.
What happens after the complaint is submitted?
You will receive an acknowledgment of receipt of your complaint within 15 working days. The Commission will examine the information provided and inform you of the outcome as soon as possible (see section 9 on 'complaints' of the Code of Best Practice for the conduct of State aid control procedures).
Your non-confidential version of the complaint may be submitted to the relevant Member State for comments.
Can I bring a case before a national court?
The obligation of Member States to notify planned State aid to the Commission ('standstill obligation') has direct effect, which means that parties affected by State aid granted in disregard of the standstill obligation ('unlawful aid') can bring direct action before national courts. Therefore, natural or legal persons whose interests have been adversely affected by the alleged unlawful aid can pursue the matter before the national courts, which must assess the case regardless of the existence of any parallel procedure before the Commission. Actions before national courts can offer an important means of redress, which can bring immediate relief to the complainant affected by unlawful State aid. Remedies available before national courts include: preventing the payment of unlawful aid; recovery of unlawful aid (regardless of compatibility); recovery of illegality interest; damages for competitors and other third parties; and interim measures against unlawful aid.
Please note however that the Commission cannot offer advice about the national procedures available in individual cases. Further information on the application of State aid law by national courts can be found on this page.