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State-aid Compliant Equity Risk Finance Measures under the GBER

A Witch’s Brew?

Florin Dascalescu


Keywords: GBER, risk finance measures, financial instruments, private equity

The current General Block Exemption Regulation 651/2014
(GBER) is of a crucial importance in the State aid architecture since Member States do not need to notify their aid measures to the European Commission if such measures satisfy the GBER conditions. The GBER has been amended several times, most recently in June 2023 via Regulation 1315/2023 under the generic name of the “Green Deal GBER amendment”, being extended until end-2026. This paper examines the GBER requirements in respect of equity risk finance measures and outlines the main modifications brought in via the last amendment, in particular as regards equity instruments under articles 21 (risk finance measures in favour of SMEs), new 21a (tax incentives for natural persons that may act as private investors) and 22 (aid for start-ups). The central analysis is focused on article 21 and the State aid requirements for equity instruments under the GBER. My analysis shows that in private equity-type aid measures there are several layers of complexity, which means the design of such GBER-compliant measures falls to sophisticated experts rather than the usual stakeholders (national authorities, fund managers, eligible undertakings). This article will examine the complexities in the structure of the GBER requirements (general and specific), the definition of the relevant notions, the intermediated finance model and the minimum participation of private independent investors. Finally, this paper proposes some solutions in order to facilitate the implementation of equity risk finance measures under the GBER, especially when funded from EU budget allocations to Member States.
Keywords: GBER, risk finance measures, financial instruments, private equity.

Florin Dascalescu is a Senior legal counsel at the European Investment Fund (EIF) in Luxembourg. The author would like to thank Professor Raúl Lafuente Sánchez and Professor Manuel Desantes Real, from the University of Alicante, for their continuous support and encouragements. The author is very grateful to his colleague, Vivi Papasouli, for her constructive comments on an earlier version of this article. The content of this article strictly reflects the personal views of the author based on the information examined. Comments on the topic are welcome at: <>.


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