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Annabelle Lepièce


CMS DeBacker
Chaussée de La Hulpe 178
1170 Brussels
Languages Dutch, English, French

Annabelle Lepièce is a European law specialist, particularly in relation to European competition law (State aid, merger control, anti-trust law). She also has expertise with the freedom of services, free movement of goods and freedom of establishment.

Her legal practice includes drafting and submitting public intervention notifications to the European Commission (rescue and restructuring aid) and representing the Belgian authorities in European investigations on illegal aids.

She advises public entities on the setting up aid schemes, including measures co-financed with European structural funds (RDI aid, de minimis aid, public guarantees, rescue and restrucuting aid scheme).

She files merger notifications, lodges complaints for abuses of dominant position and represents undertakings in investigations on cartels before national and European Competition authorities.

She also assists public authorities in relation to their compliance with applicable European law, for instance in the implementation of European directives.

She represents undertakings in litigations with the European Commission regarding European subsidies.

The firm has an extensive experience in EU litigation, representing both public authorities and private undertakings before the General Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union.

She has a recognized expertise in relation to air transportation and the aviation sector (financing of airport activities and infrastructure, contracts with airlines, handling, airport licenses, safety, etc.), the banking sector, the steel manufacturing industry, energy and government investments (capital financing, guarantees, loans). In the aviation sector, she has acted on behalf of Belgium in relation to the investigation conducted by the EU Commission in relation to the financing of the Charleroi and Ryanair airport since 2002. She has assisted French, Dutch, Romanian and Spanish regional authorities and airports in European Commission investigations and has advised them in relation to their compliance with financing and commercial commitments pursuant to contracts with airlines under European law and in relation to State aid provisions thereto. She also advices airlines on the public investments they may benefit from their public shareholders.

Annabelle is a recommended lawyer in the 2017 edition of the 100 Global Competition Review as well as in the Chambers 2016 and 2016 editions in Competition and State aid and in the 2016 edition of the Legal 500 EMEA.

She regularly lectures on State aid at the Université Paris I - Panthéon-Sorbonne [Panthéon-Sorbonne University], at the Ecole d’Administration publique commune à la Communauté française et à la Région wallone [Common Public School of Administration to the French Community and the Wallonia region],at the Ecole Nationale d’Aviation Civile [National School of Civil Aviation] and at the Assembly of European Regions, at Connect, etc.

She is regularly invited to hearings by the Committee of the Regions as an expert in State aid. Thus, as a specialist in the practice of these matters, on 19 September 2016 she participated, along with representatives of the European Commission, in a briefing to the members of the Committee of the Regions on the notion of State aid (see the programme: http://cor.europa.eu/en/events/Pages/notion-stateaid.aspx)

She is a member of the Scientific Committee of the Revue du droit des Industries de réseau [Network Industries Law Review] (“RDIR”), of the “Competition Women’s Network” and the Belgian Competition Law Association.

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“Department head Annabelle Lepiece is particularly strong in state aid mandates. She also advises at the Belgian domestic level. She acted for SOGEPA on a state aid investigation by the EC into 200 public investments. Sources note that she is "very pragmatic, commercially aware, precise and accurate.”

Chambers Global 2016

“Annabelle Lepièce successfully advised Swissport Belgium on the Belgian Competition Authority’s investigation into cargo-handling services offered to airlines at Brussels Airport.”

Legal 500 EMEA 2016

“Annabelle Lepièce of CMS is a recognised figure in the Belgian market. She has notable expertise in competition and state aid matters, particularly those involving the aviation industry.”

Chambers Europe - 2015

Relevant experience

  • Developing aid schemes (investment incentives, RDI aid, regional aid, de minimis aid, etc.) and drafting state aid notices to the European Commission (inter-modal transport, RDI) and individual government interventions (guarantees, capital contributions, restructuring aids);
  • Acting on behalf of state entities in the context of European Commission procedures relating to illegal aid, and before the Court of Justice of the EU (aviation sector, financing of hospitals, glass sector, steel manufacturing sector);
  • Acting on behalf of companies within the context of anti-trust investigations carried out by the Belgian Competition Authority (BSE testing, distribution sector, etc.);
  • Merger notices to the European Commission and to the Belgian Competition Authority (in the steel- manufacturing, banking and aviation sectors, etc.);
  • Drafting and filing anti-trust claims with the European Commission and to the Belgian Competition Authority (advertising, energy and postal service sectors).
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1996 - Université Libre de Bruxelles, ULB (Law Degree)
1996 - University of Aberdeen (Certificate in Legal Studies)
1997 - Université Libre de Bruxelles, ULB (Postgraduate in European Law)
1997 - University of Cambridge (Certificate of English Legal Methods)
1997 - Bar admission (Brussels, Belgium)
2001 - University of Edinburgh and British Council (European Young Lawyers Scheme)

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  • “Airport charges and selectivity under State aid rules: The Lübeck Airport Case”, Competition Law Insight, March 2017 
  • “To be selective or not to be selective? That is the question for tax measures under State aid rules”, with Kim Gillade, Competition Law Insight, to be published in December 2016
  • Co-author «101 juridische vragen over concurrentie », Intersentia, 2016
  • « La protection des consommateurs dans la réglementation européenne applicable aux SIEG », RDIR, 2016/03, p. 229-237 ;
  • « Arrêt de la Cour de justice de l'UE du 17 mars 2016 : pouvoirs de l'organisme national prévu par le Règlement (CE) N°261/2004 prévoyant les droits des passagers aériens en cas de refus d'embarquement et d'annulation ou de retard important d'un vol » ; RDIR, 2016/03, pp. 297-299 ;
  • « No more safe harbor for the port sector under State aid rules », Competition Law Insight, 12 April 2016 ;
  • « Spanish Tax Lease scheme: tax advantages open to any investor carrying out a certain type of operation », Journal of European Competition Law & Practice, 26 February 2016 ;
  • « Les obligations de service public dans le secteur du transport aérien en droit européen », with Hanne Baeyens, RDIR, 2015/04, pp. 419 – 428 ;
  • « Arrêt Aéroport de Lübeck : les redevances aéroportuaires et le critère de sélectivité en matière d’aides d’Etat », RDIR, 2015/02, p. 225 ;
  • « Lufthansa’s new surcharging policy raises concerns », E-Commerce Law & Policy, Augustus 2015;
  • « Flying high – the first three French aviation aid schemes have been approved », Competition Law Insight, 9 June 2015, p. 12 ;
  • « Arrêté royal du 23 novembre 2014 modifiant l’arrêté royal du 6 novembre 2014 réglementant l’accès au marché de l’assistance en escale à l’aéroport de Bruxelles-National et arrêté ministériel du 19 novembre 2014 relatif à l’agrément des prestataires de services d’assistance en escale à l’aéroport de Bruxelles-National », RDIR, 2015/01 ;
  • « Les nouvelles lignes directrices de la Commission européenne sur les aides d’Etat aux aéroports et aux compagnies aériennes : sursis de dix ans pour les aéroports régionaux », RDIR, 2014/3, p.321-337 ;
  • « Access to facilities in the transport sector : an overview of EU and national case law », e- Competitions, July 2014 ;
  • « The new EU Guidelines on state aids to airports and airlines », the Journal of Airport Management, July 2014, p.226-243 ;
  • « Droit de la concurrence dans le secteur de la grande distribution : aperçu de quelques pratiques à risque », avec Sébastien Engelen , Aperçu juridique / Juridisch bekeken - Hommage André Lombart / Eerbetoon aan André Lombart, Larcier, 2014, p. 79 – 113 ;
  • « The European Commission’s consultation on its draft EU guidelines on State aid to airports and airlines », Journal of Airport Management, vol. 7, n° 4, Augustus 2013 ;
  • « EU Fines Microsoft € 561 M for breaching commitments », with Sébastien Engelen, Journal of E- commerce Law & Policy, April 2013, http://www.e-comlaw.com/e-commerce-law-and-policy/ ;
  • « EU competition law: price fixing in the e-book market », with Hanne Baeyens, Journal of E- commerce Law & Policy, January 2013, http://www.e-comlaw.com/e-commerce-law-and-policy/ ;
  • « Le paquet Post-Almark II : Réforme de la réglementation européenne sur le financement des missions de services public », Journal de Droit Européen, September 2012, p. 205 ;
  • « The Leipzig Airport judgment: The application of EU state aid rules to the financing of airport infrastructure », Journal of Airport Management, October 2011 ;
  • « Les aides d’Etat dans le secteur du transport aérien », paper presented in March 2011 as part of the Master 2 in International Transport at the Université Panthéon-Sorbonne, Paris ;
  • « Incentives and Aids for the development of routes under EU law : Practical guide for airports and airlines », Journal of Airport Management, January-March 2011, volume 5, n° 2, p. 160 
  • « Le financement des missions de service public : les contraintes européennes » in Les pouvoirs publics dans un monde en mutation, Kluwer, 2010, p. 133 ;
  • « Les aides d’Etat et les entreprises en difficulté » in Les pouvoirs publics dans un monde en mutation, Kluwer, 2010, p. 165 ;
  • « The new EC Directive on Airport charges », Journaal LuchtRecht, November 2009, p. 25 ;
  • « A Concorrência e a Tributaçao no direito europeu», with J-M. De Backer, Temas de Tributaçao e direito internacional, APED, 2008, p. 89 ;
  • « Financing of airport infrastructure under State aid rules : Guidelines an Practice of the European Commission », Journaal LuchtRecht, November 2008, p. 110 ;
  • « The Community Guidelines on financing of airports and start up aid to airlines departing from regional airports: promoting regional airports or creating more legal uncertainty? », Journaal LuchtRecht, February 2007, pp. 5 à 28 ;
  • « Nouvelles règles européennes relatives aux services d’intérêt économique général : Quel impact sur le financement public des hôpitaux ? », Newsletter CMS DeBacker, February 2006, special edition ;
  • « The new Community Guidelines on financing of airports and start up aid », paper presented in October 2005 to the European Regional Airports Forum.
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Lectures list

Since 2011, Annabelle Lepièce has been giving yearly a seminar on state aid in the aviation transport sector at the national school of civil aviation (ENAC – Toulouse) as part of the Masters degree programme in airport management and the management of aviation transport. She also gives this seminar at the University of Panthéon – Sorbonne, Paris, as part of Master II – International Transport

  • « The development of new routes under EU State aid rules », presenting at the CONNECT Conference in Corsica from 22 to 24 February 2017 ; 
  • « State aids and Regional Development », the second Annual Tampere Aviation Forum, 1 December 2016 ;
  • « The notion of State aid: a practitioner’s point-of-view », presentation for the “Lunchtime briefing - Notice on the Notion of State aid: implications for investments at regional and local level”,  Committee of the Regions (programme: http://cor.europa.eu/en/events/Pages/notion-stateaid.aspx), 19 September 2016 ;
  • « State Aid and Airports session », Competition Law Challenges in the Transport Sector conference, London, January 2016 ;
  • « New EU Aviation Guidelines: their impact on airports and airlines », paper presented as part of the Connect conference in Ireland from 3 to 5 June 2015 ;
  • « Aides d’Etat et panorama des aides régionales (Wallonie-Bruxelles) disponibles », Kluwer training, actualités comptables et fiscales, 23 October 2014 ;
  • « State aids to airports and airlines: old rules versus the new Guidelines », paper presented as part of the conference organised by Airneth in Utrecht on 16 June 2014 ;
  • « State aids to airports and airlines : how to develop your activities under the new European Guidelines » paper presented as part of the French Connect conference in Marrakech from 3 to 6 June 2014 ;
  • « L’influence du droit européen sur les politiques des entités fédérées », training provided by Ms Lepièce, Attorney, as part of the Masters in Public Management organised by the EMMAP in association with the École d’Administration publique commune à la Communauté française et à la Région wallonne, September 2013 ;
  • « La réforme des lignes directrices européennes : quel impact sur le financement des aéroports régionaux », paper presented as part of the French Connect conference in Bordeaux on 2 July 2013 ;
  • « Les aides d’Etat dans le secteur du transport aérien », paper presented to the Round Table organised by the German Aviation Research Society, in association with the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne as part of the Master 2 in International Transport, on 5 February 2013 ;
  • « European news : better airports package (capacity, groundhandling and slots) », paper presented as part of the French Connect conference in Paris on 20 March 2012 ;
  • « Les aides et mesures incitatives aux compagnies aériennes et le financement public des aéroports: quelle est la marge de manœuvre dans le cadre européen actuel ? », paper presented as part of the French Connect conference in Lille on 24 March 2011 ;
  • « Le financement public des infrastructures aéroportuaires : une approche pratique pour les gestionnaires d’aéroports et leurs actionnaires publics », presentation during a conference organised in October 2010 as part of the Belgian presidency of the EU in relation to sustainable development in the aviation sector in Wallonia ;
  • « Les aides d’Etat », présentations au Cabinet du Ministre-Président de la Wallonie, Rudy Demotte, September and October 2010 ;
  • « Soutien à l’innovation : quels aides et incitants fiscaux ? », paper presented as part of the seminar
  • « Wallifornie – préparer les développements de demain » organised by the CMS DeBacker law firm in June 2010 ;
  • « Les réglementations européennes : contraintes ou nécessités ? Exemple concret de la crise volcanique. Comment l’industrie va-t-elle s’adapter à ces changements dans une période de déclin économique ? » en « Développement des routes dans le cadre légal de l’Union européenne », paper presented as part of the French Connect conference in Lourdes in June 2010 ;
  • « Le financement des missions de service public : les contraintes européennes », paper presented as part of the Winds of Change conference cycle organised by the CMS DeBacker law firm in February 2010 ;
  • « The notification of State aids for film production », presentation to Ciné-Regio in February 2010 in Berlin ;
  • « The 2005 Guidelines on the financing of airports and start-up aids : practical experiences », presentation to the European Assembly of Regions in September 2009 ;
  • « Les interventions publiques en faveur des entreprises en difficulté », paper presented as part of the Winds of Change conference cycle organised by the CMS DeBacker law firm in November 2008 ;
  • « EU Regulation concerning regional airports », presentation to the European Assembly of Regions in September 2007 ;
  • « The Community Guidelines on financing of airports : recent practice of the European Commission », paper presented in May 2006 to the European Regional Airports Forum ;
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CMS E-Guide to Mer­ger Con­trol


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Novem­ber 2017 News­let­ter
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Oc­to­ber 2017 News­let­ter
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Septem­ber 2017 News­let­ter
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June 2017 News­let­ter
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May 2017 News­let­ter
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On 13 Novem­ber 2017, the European Com­mis­sion launched a pub­lic con­sulta­tion on sus­tain­able fin­ance to as­sess how as­set man­agers and in­sti­tu­tion­al in­vestors could take in­to con­sid­er­a­tion en­vir­on­ment­al, so­cial and gov­ernance factors when mak­ing their de­cisions.