In an online panel discussion organised by H+K and law firm White & Case’s Brussels offices, H+K’s Alain Berger, White & Case’s James Killick and ArcelorMittal’s Ana Escobedo discussed the potential impact of the European Commission’s new white paper on levelling the playing field as regards foreign subsidies.

On 08 July H+K Strategies Brussels and White & Case LLP held an online webinar discussion on the European Commission’s recent white paper proposing to level the playing field for foreign subsidies in the Single Market through a series of measures at both the EU and member-state level.

Panellists James Killick (White & Case), Ana Escobedo (ArcelorMittal) and Alain Berger (H+K Strategies) provided key insights on the potential impact of the white paper from a legal, industry and public affairs perspective. The discussion was moderated by White & Case’s Mark Powell.

“A level of discrimination exists in the current global context. When you are a foreign subsidiary in the EU you know that everybody is treated equally within European subsidy rules”, said H+K Strategies’ Alain Berger. “The difference is that in certain other countries in the world you do not get the same level of market access if your organisation is not from that country. This unfair situation leads to discrimination, a lack of reciprocity and calls for some sort of regulation. The mere fact that the European Commission is launching this regulatory exercise on foreign subsidies is already generating attention in Beijing, Washington and New Delhi, which is good.”

James Killick from White & Case added: “This new form of merger control could be very significant, as it comes on top of normal merger control and FDI. We need to be very clear on what the rules are, and to ensure that the system is workable.”

“From a global steel production perspective, we see these proposed measures as a useful tool in closing loopholes in the existing EU-level regulations. We must take action through domestic regulations to tackle these issues”, said Ana Escobedo from ArcelorMittal.

The panellists concluded by emphasising that this is the beginning of a long process where the devil is in the details and clearly-defined rules constructed on broad stakeholder consultation will be key to success.