The European Commission has developed a number of Horizontal and Sectoral State aid rules. Horizontal State aid rules apply to any industry, whilst Sectoral State aid rules apply to specific industries.

Public authorities should note that the information on this page is only applicable when the aid being provided is within the scope of Article 10 of the Windsor Framework. If you are providing support to service sector companies please refer to the information on the State aid and Subsidy control after EU Exit webpage.

Article 10 of the Windsor Framework

The EU and the UK formally adopted the Windsor Framework (previously known as the Northern Ireland Protocol) on 24 March 2023. 

The Windsor Framework, provides a new legal and UK constitutional framework.

Article 10 provides that the State aid rules will continue to apply to the UK in respect of measures which affect trade in goods between NI and the EU (including the production of and trade in agricultural products) and the production of wholesale electricity in NI (i.e. measures impacting on the Single Electricity Market).

The European Commission and the United Kingdom have recently published their respective guidance on the circumstances in which Article 10 of the Windsor Framework will apply.

Using the Horizontal and Sectoral State aid rules

If you want to use the Horizontal or Sectoral rules for State aid cover, you have to formally tell the European Commission about your plans and wait for a formal decision before you provide any aid. This can be a lengthy process, and it can take around 12 to 18 months to get a decision from the European Commission.

To save time, you should think about whether you can get State aid cover through one of the Block Exemption Regulations or one of the de minimis regulations

Horizontal State aid rules

Horizontal State aid rules apply to all sectors. The categories are aimed at solving problems that may arise in any industry and country:

Sectoral State aid rules

As their name suggests, the Sectoral State aid rules apply to specific sectors/industries:

Agriculture, food and fisheries legislation

Energy and environment

Electronic communications


Rail and road

How to find out more

If you work for a Public Authority and have any questions about how to apply the Horizontal or Sectoral State aid rules, please speak to one of the State aid and subsidy control contacts.

You can find out more about State aid in State aid: A Beginner's Guide for Public Bodies in Northern Ireland.

You can read more about the rules after EU Exit on the department's webpage State aid and subsidy control after EU exit.



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