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Evaluating Restructuring Aid: a Case Study Approach

Caroline Buts, Jean-François Romainville, Valentijn Bilsen


When a firm in difficulty has no remaining market options to attempt restructuring and regaining viability, there is the possibility that a government chooses to intervene by means of a rescue and/or a restructuring aid. While this is clearly considered to constitute one of the most distortive types of State aid, rescue and restructuring aid can be allowed in very specific circumstances. At EU level, those circumstances are set out in guidelines on State aid for rescuing and restructuring non-financial undertakings in difficulty. Building upon, among others, insights and results gained throughout the conduct of a study for the European Commission (DG Competition), this article evaluates restructuring aid decisions (excluding the financial sector) from 2003 until 2012 by means of a case study approach. The contribution of this study is twofold. First, the results of the article shed light on the effectiveness and efficiency of restructuring aid procedures and outcomes. Second, we report on the advantages and limitations of the qualitative methodology used, which constitutes a crucial complement to econometric analyses and forms an essential part of any proper ex-post aid evaluation.
Keywords: Restructuring Aid; Ex-post Evaluation; Case Studies.

Jean-François Romainville is researcher in competitiveness and innovation. Dr Valentijn Bilsen is senior expert in competitiveness, environment and innovation. Both are at Idea Consult. Caroline Buts is assistant professor at the Department of Applied Economics of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. Corresponding author: Jean-François Romainville ( Suggestions made by participants of the second conference on State aid control –where law and economics meet- are gratefully acknowledged. This article draws upon results that were produced within a framework contract with the European Commission. The opinions expressed are those of the authors only and do not represent the contracting authority’s official position. The full study can be consulted online: European Commission, DG COMP (2016), Ex-post evaluation of the impact of restructuring aid decisions on the viability of aided (non-financial) firms, study conducted by WIFO, SPI, ECORYS NL, IDEA Consult, ZEW and Caroline Buts, online available at: <> Last accessed on 19 August 2016.


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